Flowering quinces are charming shrubs that are often found planted near old homesteads. There are two types of flowering quince. One is chaenomeles japonica, which is a compact shrub reaching 3 feet high with bright reddish orange flowers. The other is chaenomeles speciosa or common flowering quince, which can reach 10 feet high with a spread of 10 to 15 feet. The flowers of the common flowering quince will vary with cultivar and can be red, white, pink or apricot. Both quinces flower in late winter to early spring on old wood. Flowering on old wood means the plant develops the buds that turn into flowers in mid to late summer. These plants need to be pruned after they have flowered.
Prune both chaenomeles japonica and chaenomeles speciosa in mid to late spring after they have finished flowering and the flowers have faded.
Remove the flower clusters, cutting back to a strong outward-facing bud.
Prune off broken, diseased or dead branches at ground level or back to live wood. Make cuts in live woods a half to 1 inch above an outward facing (facing away from the interior of the shrub) bud or branch. Pruning to an outward facing bud opens the interior of the shrub to light and air, which can increase the amount of flower buds produced while decreasing the chances of insect or disease pests.
Cut back older branches (branches 5 years old or older or more than 4 inches in diameter) back to the ground. Make the cut as close to the soil line as you can to prevent unattractive stubs. You don't have to cut back all of the older branches in one year because removing more than a third of the shrub in a year may harm the plant.
Trim back 2-year-old stems to outward facing buds or branches.
Prune off lanky stems with few branches and awkwardly positioned branches.
Walk around your flowering quince. Look at the shape and the position of the branches. If you like how it looks, stop. If there are branches at odd angles prune those off until the shrub takes the desired shape.
Things You Will Need
- Heavy gloves
- Thick coat or shirt
- Pruning shears
- Pruning saw
- Disinfect your pruning shears and saws between plants and after removing a diseased or pest-infested branch. Dilute bleach with water until you have a 10-percent bleach solution.
- Always sharpen your pruning tools before making cuts. The sharper the tool, the less chance of damaging wood while pruning.
- Compact flowering quinces may not need to prune as they are bred specifically to maintain their shape. All you would have to do is remove broken or dead branches.
- If you are worried about harming your flowering quince do the pruning over several days taking multiple breaks while pruning to walk around the shrub to examine its shape.
- Do not remove more than a third of the live growth in a year. Doing so can result in the shrub dying over the winter or succumbing to disease.
- Pruning in late summer, autumn, or winter will remove flower buds, resulting in no flowers the following spring.
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