In early spring, when most of the garden is still dormant, a flowering quince is a welcome sight, and caring for this plant can be easy with a few tips. Its profusion of pink, red, or white flowers is not the only reason to grow this bush, however. Come fall, many varieties will produce fragrant fruit that can be used in cooking or to make preserves, or can be tucked into drawers and chests as a natural sachet.
Choose a site that gets full sun and isn’t close to any juniper; junipers are host to pests that spread quince-rust disease. Quince thrives in a wide variety of soil types. Dig a hole as deep as the root ball but twice as wide. Gently loosen roots and amend soil with compost or other organic matter. Fill in the hole, tamping down as you go, and water well when you’re finished. Because quince has a shallow root system, mulch well around the base of the plant to prevent weeds and to retain moisture.
Quince produces flowers (and therefore fruit) on new growth, so prune the oldest canes to the ground in early spring to encourage more vigor in young branches and to promote good air circulation at the center of the shrub. Dead or diseased wood can be removed at any time. Also in early spring, fertilize with a slow-release fertilizer that is high in phosphorus but low in nitrogen to stimulate flower production. For the best fruit production, shortly after flowering pinch off malformed blossoms or any that are crowding others.
Quince branches are excellent candidates for forcing (using artificial warmth to encourage early bloom) and will bring a much-needed breath of spring indoors. In February, use sharp pruners to remove a section at least twelve inches long that has lots of flower buds. Slit the cut end of the branch with a sharp knife to form a cross. Place branches in a container of water somewhere cool and bright but out of direct sunlight. Mist regularly. Once buds start to open, use them in arrangements.
Use these tips and you'll love watching your quince bush flourish.