Flowering Quince Without Thorns

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Common flowering quince (Chaenomeles speciosa), hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 4 through 8 or 9, is a deciduous shrub belonging to the rose family. It has long been grown for its white, pink, red or apricot spring flowers. Traditional flowering quince's main drawback is the long thorns, which make it difficult to maintain the shrubs or cut branches for indoor arrangements. New, thornless varieties make the plants easier to handle.

Breeding

  • Some older varieties of flowering quince, like "Dragon's Blood" (Chaenomeles spesiosa "Dragon's Blood") feature stems with few or no thorns. Breeder Dr. Thomas Ranney at the North Carolina State University Extension Center crossed these varieties to create the Double Take Series of flowering quince with thornless branches and double, camellia-like flowers. Storm Series quinces include "Orange Storm" (Chaenomeles spesiosa "Orange Storm"), "Scarlet Storm" (Chaenomeles spesiosa "Scarlet Storm") and "Pink Storm" (Chaenomeles spesiosa "Pink Storm"). All are now available commercially.

Description

  • Hardy in the same USDA zones 5 through 9 as the parent quince species, the new Double Take quinces are fairly compact in habit, reaching only 6 feet tall and wide. The growth habit is rounded. The fully double flowers are about 2 inches wide and depending on variety, bloom in red, pink or orange. The flowers appear in mid-spring. Oval-shaped, glossy green leaves follow. Older flowering quince varieties produce small to moderate quantities of fragrant, apple-like fruit. The Double Take varieties do not produce any fruit.

Culture

  • Plant the potted nursery-grown specimens in well-drained soil. The Double Take quinces will grow in part shade, but they flower best in full sun. Water regularly during the first year and during dry spells thereafter. Like old-fashioned flowering quince, the Double Take plants bloom on the previous year's growth. Pruning should take place right after the blooms have faded. Old and new varieties of quince tend to sprout root suckers, which can create an unwieldy thicket if the suckers are not removed at ground level when they occur.

Uses

  • The combination of relatively manageable size and thornless branches adds up to a versatile plant. The Double Take quinces can be planted at the edge of dedicated cutting gardens or included in sunny mixed beds and borders. Budded branches can be brought indoors in early spring, placed in water and "forced" into bloom. The shrubs can also be used as specimen plantings or massed as informal flowering hedges. On sunny slopes, the Double Take quinces can also be used in groups for erosion control.

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