What Is Fruiting Quince and How Do I Plant It?

It's an apple! It's a pear! It's a...quince?

Quince is the name given to the fruit of the Cydonia oblonga tree as well as the common name of the tree itself. It's a small tree that can grow to 15-20 feet tall and wide. Quince is a hardy, low-maintenance plant that's great for beginners because it thrives with little effort and is relatively hard to kill. The ornamental tree can take up to five years to produce its first fruits, and ten years to reach its full fruit production potential—however, its sweet yellow fruits are well worth the wait. Quince grows best with full sun and moderate water, and it produces autumn fruits that make a compelling case for planting a quince or two in your garden today.

About Quince

Native to West Asia, quince is a member of the rose family, and according to The New Southern Living Garden Book, "White or blush pink flowers bloom in midspring; these are followed in autumn by fragrant, yellow, round to pear-shaped or oblong fruit traditionally used in the South for jelly and preserves. Fruit reaches 34 inches long and remains as hard as a golf ball even after ripening." The fruit of the quince is hard and has bright yellow or gold flesh. When the fruits appear in fall, they resemble apples or pears, and their profile falls somewhere in between the two. Quince fruits are edible and used in a variety of cuisines. This quince species is sometimes mistaken for flowering quince (Chaenomeles speciosa), a relative with beautiful blooms.

How To Grow Quince

The New Southern Living Garden Book advises, "Quince is easy to grow in a sunny spot with slightly acid, well-drained soil; once established, it is incredibly tenacious and nearly impossible to kill, deliberately or otherwise." Below is all you need to know about growing your own quince tree.

Light

Quince does well in full sun—so make sure to plant yours in a sunshiny area! It can handle a little bit of shade, but the tree needs to be in the sun for the majority of the day to have the yummiest fruit and stay in good health.

Soil

The soil for your quince plant needs to be well-drained, and continually moist—never allowing the area around your tree to completely dry out. The soil should be slightly acidic, and it is important to mix the soil with some organic matter.

Water

Your quince tree should be deep-soaked once every two weeks when first establishing the tree. After then, the tree will need water about once a month, as it is not a very drought-tolerant tree. Just make sure to keep the soil moist, and never let the soil become completely dry. Underwatered quince trees will start dropping their fruit. However, make sure not to overwater either, as this can cause disease.

Cross-pollination, Fertilizing, Pruning

The New Southern Living Garden Book states that "some selections need a pollinizer; planting at least two different ones ensures cross-pollination and larger crops." Your tree should be fertilized only once a year during winter. Make sure not to over-fertilize, as this can cause disease. Pruning should happen after the last frost of the year—cut back branches that are dead, damaged, or on the lower end of the tree. It is also important to remove all sucker growth, as it can create thickets if left uncut.

Most Common Issue: Fire Blight

Fire blight is the most common and destructive disease for quince trees, and many other plants in the rose family, such as pears, apples, and mountain ash. One sign your tree has fire blight is if an ooze, usually light tan in color, seeps from the cankers that will develop on the plant. Parts of your quince, like the leaves and branches, could also turn black if the plant has fire blight. This disease is known to be very destructive, and it may be your best bet to hire a professional if you think your quince is infected with it.

Quince Selections

What Is Quince and How Do I Plant It?
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'Aromatnaya,' 'Pineapple,' and 'Crimea' produce fruit with a yellow flesh and a pineapple-like flavor that is delicious when eaten fresh off the tree. 'Cooke's Jumbo' and 'Smyrna' have white flesh and good flavor, while fruits from 'Portugal' ripen before the rest and have pink flesh that changes to red when cooked.

Have you ever eaten a quince or seen a Cydonia oblonga tree? What edible fruits are growing in your garden?

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