Plant Taxonomy of Flowering Quince:
Bushes in the Double Take™ series reach a maximum of about 4 feet tall by 4 feet wide, meaning they're more compact than some older varieties of flowering quince shrubs. As their cultivar names indicate, they bear red flowers, pink flowers, or orange flowers. The shades change as the blossoms age (e.g., scarlet ages to a maroon). The bushes in this series are thornless and fruitless. Plants bloom in April in my zone 5 garden.
The series name is indicative not only of the notion that you'll "do a double take" when you witness the beauty of these bushes' blooms, but also of the fact that they have double flowers.
Planting Zones for Flowering Quince Shrubs:
Sun and Soil Requirements:
Wildlife Attracted by Flowering Quince Shrubs:
Prune just after blooming is over, since the bush blooms on old wood.
What is the best feature of these plants? That's a no-brainer: the gorgeous red, pink and orange colors of the flowers. Other types of flowering quince shrubs can produce white flowers (there's a cultivar called 'Jet Trail'), although I rarely see this color in people's yards. I think most people share my view that the value of these plants lies almost exclusively in the exquisite color of the pink, red and orange varieties. For more on my opinion (and the opinions of others) of this bush, see below.
Micheal Dirr is one of this bush's famous detractors. In the Chaenomeles speciosa entry in Dirr's Encyclopedia of Trees & Shrubs, we find the following descriptions of flowering quince shrubs (p.180):
- The habit is "oafish"
- It produces a "tangled mass of stems"
- It can become a "hummocky mass"
All of which leads to his suggestion that the bush be pruned frequently.
Dirr is not alone in his negative estimate of flowering quince shrubs. My wife, Maria doesn't care for the bushes we encounter when we're out on our drives, regarding them as messy-looking.
So why do I defend the honor of flowering quince shrubs? Quite simply, the ones with the pinkish-red flowers bowl me over every time I see them. There's nothing else that blooms in this color here in New England in early spring. Those spring blossoms atone for whatever sins the plants may be guilty of during the other three seasons of the year. I also admire the shiny, dark-green foliage.
Having wanted to grow flowering quince shrubs for a long time, I was excited to begin testing the Double Take™ series. I started off with the very small plants that were shipped to me from the nursery in June, 2010. Knowing that bushes can sometimes take a while to become sufficiently established and mature to bloom, I didn't allow my hopes to become too high that I would have flowers in the spring of 2011.
And it's a good thing I didn't! Not that it was necessarily the plants' fault, though. No, I found out the hard way that part of growing flowering quince shrubs is practicing wild rabbit control. Due to rabbit damage to my plants during the winter of 2010-2011, my bushes were chopped down to ground level.
So in 2011, up went the chicken wire to protect my plants from rabbits. The result? I was the proud father of my first Chaenomeles speciosa flowers in April, 2012! True, the flowers were too close to the ground for optimal viewing. Thanks to the rabbits, my flowering quince shrubs were still short. But because those blooms were long-awaited, I was determined to appreciate them to the fullest, even if it meant getting down on my hands and knees to do so!