Flowering quince are one of the first shrubs to bloom in early spring, branches loaded with blooms before they leaf out. They’re also hardy, tough, long-lasting and super easy to grow. We love using quince in mixed borders because the flowers can be appreciated when little else is happening and then it just becomes a useful dark evergreen background. Butterflies and hummingbirds will also savor the early flowers.
There are many varieties of quince and choosing the right one is based on what you want. Older varieties such as Super Red, Toyo-Noshiki, and Texas Scarlet produce fruits adored by birds in fall and have some pretty meaningful thorns (like a living barbed wire fence, but prettier) which makes them ideal for hedges or espalier.
Newer varieties including the Double Take series are smaller overall, do not produce fruits, and are largely thornless. They are idea for a lower hedge along a walkway, up against a fence, or in a mixed border or even container.
If your garden feels colorless as winter drones on, consider adding a few of this lovely flowering shrub. Next year, late winter, you will be so glad you did!
The Art of Gentle Persuasion
Quince are one of the easiest of the spring bloomers to bring inside to force into flower. Cut branches with fat buds beginning to swell, and place in a vase of water near a sunny window. Buds will often begin to unfold in days. Be patient; a week or more can pass before buds open.