Figuring out the best type of plant for your garden can be tricky. For example, do you want to grow quince but can't tell if it's a tree or shrub? Is there any difference between the two, or does it depend on how you grow a quince? We've researched these topics and have answers for you below!
A quince tree differs from a quince shrub in a few ways. Flowering quince shrubs don't grow in a tree-like pattern or produce as much fruit as a quince tree. A quince tree will produce higher fruit volumes and can grow 12 to 15 feet tall and wide.
Quince shrubs typically only grow between three and 10 feet tall and wide. Cydonia oblonga, or the common quince, is typically sold as a grafted tree, while flowering quince shrubs are mainly sold by seed.
As we start this article, we will cover all things quince and go over the differences between the shrub and tree varieties. Whether you need something large for your yard, prefer a manageable shrub, or need other care tips and tricks, we're here to help. With that said, let's dive right in!
Are Quince Trees And Shrubs The Same Thing?
Even though quince trees and shrubs have similar foliage and both produce fruit, they have notable differences. Generally, quince trees are larger, producing bountiful harvests around years three to five.
In contrast, quince shrubs stay small, often producing fewer pome fruits yearly. The average quince shrub will grow to be three to 10 feet tall and wide, while a tree has a central trunk and can become 12-15 feet tall and wide.
Additionally, quince trees can grow much larger than 15 feet in ideal conditions, while a shrub won't typically exceed 10 feet.
A quince shrub will have multiple stems feeding into the central section of its ground space. A quince tree usually features one sturdy trunk/stem and then branches out.
These two plant types produce fruit, although a tree will always have higher volume yields than a shrub. Besides their size, structure, and fruiting capacity, a quince tree and a shrub are similar.
It's also worth noting that the flowering quince shrub falls under the name Chaenomeles, while the tree varieties of this species fall under the name Cydonia oblonga.
Quince Tree Or Shrub: Which Is Better For A Garden?
This comes down to your landscape. Since the quince tree becomes much larger and broader than a typical shrub/bush, you'll need around 20 feet of space.
That might be perfect for anyone with plenty of space. However, quince shrubs are more commonly used in landscaping, as they are easy to maintain and grow well in most conditions.
On top of that, quince trees and shrubs will produce fruit. Many people collect the fruit from their smaller quince shrubs and use it for various jams, preserves, and processing.
The flowers on a quince shrub are also one of the reasons gardeners love them. Yes, a quince tree also blooms before fruiting, but it won't fill with flowers as nicely as a shrub will.
In the early spring, your quince shrub should produce flowers for several days, making this a great entryway option. You could line both sides of the sidewalk with quince shrubs to add a pop of spring color.
Of course, a beautiful quince tree never fails, either, so if you have the space and can handle regular pruning and fruit collecting, then that's certainly fine.
What Does A Quince Shrub Look Like?
A quince shrub has gray-brown twigs with flowers. The flowers on your quince shrub should be around two inches in diameter, filling the entire plant during the spring.
According to some garden pros, quince shrub flowers may even take on a rose or camellia appearance, so regardless, they will be beautiful. Color-wise, quince shrubs will stay green throughout the year, and their blooms will be red, orange, coral, pink, and white.
You can expect more flowers on your shrub than a quince tree, as it stays smaller and centrally growing. Furthermore, your quince shrub should be able to make small quince fruits in the fall, so keep an eye out for them around that period.
What Does A Quince Tree Look Like?
Generally, a quince tree will be on the smaller side for its first decade. As we said, your tree will have a central trunk or branch where the rest of the branches sprawl.
However, many quince trees in warm, moderate-growing locations can exceed 15-20 feet tall and wide, so that's not to say every tree will stay small.
Like quince shrubs, a tree will share similar foliage color. The leaves on your quince tree are ovate or elliptical and about four inches long. They'll also be grayish in tone, similar to the shrub varieties.
For their flowers, quince trees mainly produce pink and white blooms similar to those of the pear or apple. Once the fruit begins to form, you can expect it to resemble a pear, much bigger than the ones on a shrub.
Quince trees are often ornamental because their fruit doesn't taste good raw. Many landscapers will use them as feature plants in a garden because of their unique foliage and flowering.
These trees also need space away from other plants, although if you want to promote faster, better fruiting, you could grow multiple quinces together.
What Is The Care Routine Like For A Quince Tree?
For those with a quince tree, the care routine will be pretty straightforward. Most importantly, you want to ensure a quince tree has well-drained, slightly moist soil.
It's also good to have a mix of organic matter around the base of your tree, which will help keep the soil nutrient-rich and draining.
Quince trees also prefer acidic soil, although they can handle low alkalinity. These trees also love water, so keeping them on a good watering routine is crucial.
Quince trees don't mind moist ground conditions, especially in their younger years, so that is something to remember in your garden. Many experts will also suggest using a nitrogen-rich fertilizer for quince trees in the spring, which should help boost flowering and fruiting into the fall.
The pruning for your quince tree is another thing to think about. Since these plants can become 15-20 feet large, you may need to shape them to fit your landscape.
Not every person can manage a 20+ foot tree that produces fruit each year, so don't be nervous about giving your quince some shaping.
What Is The Care Routine Like For A Quince Shrub?
Luckily, the ground conditions for a quince shrub will be similar to those of a tree. Your quince will need slightly acidic soil with a pH of 7.0 or less.
Therefore, you don't want the ground around your shrub to be too alkaline, or your shrub could become stunted. Drainage is also super important, even for a quince shrub, so try and keep yours from sitting in water for long periods.
Unlike a quince tree, it can be difficult for your shrub to absorb excess moisture, so you want to water it less than a full-size tree.
Fertilizing a shrub can also be helpful, especially if you wait until its flowers fade in the late spring/early summer. You can also use a nitrogen-based fertilizer for quince shrubs, so this is similar to tree care.
Pruning isn't necessary for quince shrubs unless yours becomes leggy or overgrown. Generally, flowering quince won't exceed three feet upon full maturity, but it is possible to have one become 10 feet tall.
How Fast Do Quince Trees Grow?
Quince trees generally grow at a moderate pace. Since it takes a few years for your tree to become strong enough to bear fruit, you can expect one to two feet of growth per year for the first decade.
Around year five, your quince tree should be able to produce fruit, ramping up production until the 10-year mark. Your quince tree will be in its prime fruit-producing age at 10, meaning you can expect the most harvest during that time.
Of course, every quince tree is different, so some may grow faster than others. Warmer, moderate weather tends to help quince growth, so USDA zones 6-9 are best for this tree species.
How Fast Do Quince Shrubs Grow?
When it comes to quince shrubs' growth rate, this will be a bit slower than tree varieties. It may take a quince shrub several years to reach its full size.
As we said, these shrubs don't typically exceed three or so feet. Therefore, it could be about a decade of growing before your flowering quince bush is done growing and maturing.
Whether you want to grow a quince tree or shrub, knowing their differences is always good. We found that quince trees are much larger than shrub varieties, often exceeding 12-15 feet in height and spread.
Furthermore, a quince tree will produce more fruit and more pear-like pomes than a shrub. However, a quince shrub will have better flowering, so each has its advantages.
Regardless, both quince varieties love nutrient-rich soil that drains well and thrive in warmer, more moderate USDA zones.
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