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Growing Quince: Cydonia oblonga

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A member of the Rose family, the Cydonia genus now contains only one species, Cydonia oblonga: Quince.


Form: Tree.
Lifespan: 30-50 productive years.
Leaf retention: Deciduous.
Growth rate: Slow to moderate.
Mature Size: 15-25' high and 12-18' wide.
Flowers: Five narrow, white to pink petals from pink buds, 2" wide.
Bloom: Start of spring, after leaves develop.
Self-fruitful: Yes, but yield increases with cross pollination from another quince tree within 30'.
Years before fruiting: 3-5, depending on rootstock, 5-10 for maximum fruit bearing.
Fruit: Bright yellow, shaped like a large apple or pear, similar to an apple on the inside. The green fruit are covered with fine gray-white hairs which fall off as the fruit become ripe.
Months for fruit to ripen: 5-6 on the tree, with a strong fragrance when ripe. Mature fruit snap easily from the branch. If they are difficult to remove, they are not ripe.
Storage after harvest: Quince last up to 2 weeks in a refrigerator when ripe. They will continue to ripen, soften and become more fragrant after harvest.
Leaves: Green, oval to broadly lance shaped, smooth edges, turn yellow in the fall.
Stems: No thorns. The trunk has scaly bark that flakes off thin patches, displaying irregular bare areas on a smooth surface.
Roots: Quince are often grafted onto special rootstock.
Cultivars of note: 'Smyrna', 'Orange' and 'Pineapple' are low chill. 'Pineapple' can be eaten raw. The others, like most quince cultivars, need to be cooked to remove astringency.
Wildlife: Attracts bees.
Toxic / Danger: Leaves and seeds are mildly poisonous. A large quantity of seeds would have to be consumed to become dangerous.
Origin: Turkey and Iran. Quince have been cultivated for more than 4000 years.

Cultivation and Uses

USDA hardiness zones: 6-9.
Chill hours: 100-500 hours.
Heat tolerant: Usually up to USDA zone 9.
Sun: Full sun to prevent diseases. Quince dislike high humidity.
Drought tolerant: Moderate.
Water after becoming established: Deeply, using basin irrigation, once a week during the growing and fruiting season. Once a month at other times. Insufficient water results in fruit drop.
Soil: Well drained, deep, slightly moist, moderate organic content, pH 6.1-7.5 (slightly acidic to neutral). Alkaline soil causes nutritional deficiencies.
Fertilize: One a year, mid-winter, apply an organic fertilizer with micronutrients under the canopy but one foot away from the trunk. Water immediately. Applying too much nitrogen results in flower drop and increases fire blight susceptibility.
Mulch: Spread 2-3" aged compost under the canopy in late winter to reduce moisture loss. Keep mulch one foot away from the trunk.
Planting: Avoid locations with rapid temperature fluctuations and cold winter winds.
First Year Care: Deep water using basin irrigation twice a week.
Prune: Mid-winter, remove dead and damaged branches and remove any branches too low to the ground. Prune to shape but never remove more than one-third of the canopy. The fruit develop on tips of the previous year's growth, so be careful what you cut. Quince trees need less pruning with age. Remove root suckers immediately unless growing a hedge with an ungrafted plant.
Propagation: Cuttings and cuttings grafted onto special quince rootstock. Seed do not grow true and the resulting fruit are likely to be inferior.
Pests: Susceptible to fire blight, especially when overwatered.
Uses: Ornamental, edible fruit for pies, jams, jellies, wine or cider. A small bowl of ripe quince can be used as an air freshener because of their fragrance. Ungrafted trees can be allowed to sucker and be grown as a hedge. In North America, quince are mainly grown to be used as dwarfing rootstock for pears.


Do not confuse this plant with flowering ornamentals like Chinese Quince: Pseudocydonia sinensis (formerly Cydonia sinensis, then Chaenomeles sinensis). Flowering ornamentals do not fruit well.

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Quince: Cydonia oblonga - flower

Quince: Cydonia oblonga - young fruit

Quince: Cydonia oblonga - mature fruit

Quince: Cydonia oblonga

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Latest update: December, 2018