Chaenomeles japonica
Common Name: Japanese quince
Type: Deciduous shrub
Family: Rosaceae
Native Range: Japan
Zone: 5 to 9
Height: 2.00 to 3.00 feet
Spread: 3.00 to 6.00 feet
Bloom Time: April
Bloom Description: Orange-scarlet
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Hedge
Flower: Showy
Fruit: Showy, Edible
Other: Thorns
Tolerate: Drought, Erosion, Clay Soil

Culture

Easily grown in average, medium moisture, well-drained soil in full sun to part shade. Best flowering occurs in full sun. Adapts to a wide range of soil conditions, but prefers well-drained loams. Established plants tolerate some dry soils. Plants bloom on old growth. Avoid heavy pruning. Prune to shape as needed in spring after flowering to stimulate growth of flowering spurs which will improve bloom for the following year (although such pruning will reduce fruit production for the current year). Promptly remove root suckers to control possible spread.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Chaenomeles japonica, commonly called Japanese quince, is a low-growing, densely-branched, deciduous shrub with spiny, often-tangled, gray-brown twigs. It typically grows to 3’ tall but spreads to 6' wide. Five-petaled, orange-scarlet flowers (to 1.5” across) with creamy white stamens bloom before the leaves unfold in an often showy early spring floral display. Flowers are followed by hard, greenish-yellow fruits (1.5” pomes that are commonly called quinces) which ripen in early autumn. Ripe quinces are fragrant. Quinces are edible, but usually are considered too bitter to be eaten directly from the shrub. Quinces are sometimes used to make preserves and jellies. Coarsely-toothed, broad-oval, green leaves (to 2” long). No appreciable fall color.

Genus name comes from the Greek words chaino meaning to gape and melon meaning an apple in the incorrect belief that the fruits split open.

Specific epithet means Japanese.

Problems

Susceptible to fungal leaf spot (particularly in years with heavy spring rainfall) which can cause considerable leaf defoliation. Fireblight and scab can be problems in some areas. Aphids can cause significant damage to new growth. Lesser pests include scale and mites. Chlorosis (yellowing of foliage) will occur in high pH soils. Flower buds are susceptible to significant damage from early spring frosts.

Garden Uses

Low hedge. Specimen or group in shrub border or cottage garden. Shrubs may also be trained against a wall. Branches may be clipped and forced for winter bloom.