Quince shrubs start easily from seed, though extra care is needed to get the seedlings through the first winter. Quince plants started indoors in February could be large enough for bud grafting by fall. Fruit quality of seed-grown quince trees will be a gamble, but most quince produce fruit at least good enough for pies and jellies. Seedling quince accept scions from pear cultivars as well as select quince trees, giving growers choices of many fruit varieties on the same species of hardy rootstock.
Gather quince fruit in fall and separate seeds from flesh. Wash the seeds in clean water and let them air dry on a paper towel for a day or two. Keep the seeds out of the sun in a cool place indoors while they dry.
Fill a quart zip top plastic bag three-quarters full with clean, moist sand. Place the quince seeds in the bag and seal the top. Massage the bag carefully to mix the seeds into the sand.
Place the bag of seeds and sand in the refrigerator. Quince seeds require a period of chill--also called stratification--in order to sprout. Ideally, keep the bag just above freezing while in storage.
Fill starting pots with potting mix. Plant one or two seeds per pot, 1/2 inch deep, in late January. Water the pots thoroughly. Place the pots near a south window but not in direct sunlight.
Place pots on a sunny windowsill after most seeds sprout. Pinch off or pull out the weakest plant from each pot after one plant shows its second set of leaves.
Harden off quince seedlings by taking the potted plants outdoors for a few hours a day after weather warms and all danger of frost is past. Increase the time outside daily. In a week the quince should be fully acclimated to the outdoors.
Plant quince still in their peat pots in a garden row for the summer. Space the plants 1 1/2 feet apart in the row and transplant to permanent orchard locations in late fall when dormancy begins.
Things You Will Need
- Quince seed
- Zip top plastic bag
- Potting soil mix
- 4-inch-tall peat pots
- Avoid the stratification process by ordering quince seed from nurseries. Plant the seed in late February or March and nurture the plants indoors until after the last spring frost.
- After planting, keep the pots moist but not wet. Over-watering encourages fungal growth which could injure or kill the seedlings.