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Growing a Quince Tree in Australia

Quince not only provides delicious annual fruit but can also be used as a landscaping tree in the garden for its attractive spring blossom.

Quince has a long history of cultivation, but many potential growers are apprehensive about starting their quince growing journey due to perceptions of it being a tree with demanding care needs.

However, with a little attention and the right variety, Quince will provide an abundance of fruit and an attractive addition to your outdoor space.

Key takeaways

  • The most common variety of fruiting Quince in Australia is Smyrna
  • Other popular cultivars are Champion and de Vranja
  • Other varieties may be harder to find, but often offer tastier fruits
  • Treat Quince with Bordeaux mixture in autumn and spring to prevent Leaf Fleck

Quince tree varieties in Australia

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Quince can refer to the genus Cydonia which bears fruit or the genus Chaenomeles which bears flowers but no fruit.

The fruiting Cydonia is also referred to as “true” or “common” Quince and flowering Chaenomeles as “Flowering Quince”, ‘Japanese Quince’ or “Chinese Quince”.

Both types are of the rose plant family Rosacea.

Most fruiting Quince trees found at nurseries in Australia are either the variety Smyrna or Champion, as these are the varieties used by commercial growers. However, there are around 15 varieties in Australia today.

Smyrna became a common variety worldwide because it fruits just a few years after planting. It also has resistance to Fleck, the most common disease of Quince in Australia.

Champion is a more prolific fruit producer, but the fruits are less shapely.

Specialist nurseries may supply other less common Quince varieties.

For example, you may find de Vranjya. The fruits are particularly large weighing up to 1.5 kg. The sweetness of the fruits makes them good for baking but the lower pectin content make them less suited to jams.

Fullers Quince is also popular in Australia. It matures early in the season and has fragrant fruit.

Pineapple Quince may also be a good choice if you can find it. It offers abundant pink blossom in the spring and particularly fragrant fruit.

If you are looking to grow a fruiting Quince in a container, use Lescovatza. This variety grows to just 1.5-3m in height.

Some Quince varieties are known for their large fruits. In Australia, these include Rea’s Mammoth and Missouri Mammoth. However, the fruits tend to be less visually appealing.

The fruit of the Van Deman variety is known for its spicy flavours. The fruit of French varieties De Bourgeaut and Angers are particularly good for cooking and the trees both smaller. These varieties are available in Australia but may be harder to find.

When choosing a variety of Quince for growing in Australia, it is best to choose one available locally to you and suits your growing conditions. 

How to plant a quince tree

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Consider using Quince as part of landscaping in the garden for its attractive spring blossom.

Quince is self-fertile so does not need a second tree to achieve flowering and fruiting. However, overall growth is better when several trees are planted together.

The site will need direct sunlight for at least half of the day to ensure the tree flowers and fruits.

Quince tolerates and thrives in moist, heavy soils. If the soil is light, add plenty of compost up to six weeks before planting.

Planting a nursery tree

Planting a nursery Quince tree is the same as that of any deciduous fruit tree provided the above guidelines regarding sunlight and soil type are followed.

The tree is best planted at the beginning of winter when it is dormant.

Propagating from cuttings

Quince propagated from cuttings will generally grow well, and the fruit is likely to be of good quality.

To propagate from cuttings, remove lengths of twigs 15-30cm long and 5mm thick using a sharp grafting knife.  Ensure that the twig has a leaf bud close to its base. Take a handful from different stems.

Remove 5 mm of bark from the base of each cutting and dip them in rooting hormone. Place the cuttings in a container filled with a mix of moist sand and compost with one-third of the cutting below the surface. Add about 15cm of water.

After a year, the cuttings should be ready for potting up or planting in the ground.

Caring for a quince tree

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Pruning

Unattended, Quince can grow wiry and may also grow suckers beneath the main trunk. Remove any twigs which have formed into congested areas and suckers in winter when the tree is dormant.

You can also remove any stems with no leaves, flowers or fruit.

It is generally advised that the main trunk of a quince tree is cut after the second year of growth. This opens up the centre of the tree and helps to reduce growth in the centre.

Once your quince tree is established, you’ll want to focus on completely removing any vertically growing branches in the centre of the tree.

Watering and fertilization

Soak the roots of the Quince tree twice a week throughout the summer. This is particularly important during its first year. The tree needs 2-3 cm a week on average during its annual growth.

As a rule, fertilize with a balanced NPK which has a higher proportion of nitrogen. Leave a gap of about 10 cm between the fertilizer and the trunk itself.

Quince will respond well to compound fertilizer containing trace elements such as iron, zinc and copper.

Quince tree pests and diseases

You may find Pear and Cherry Slugworm feeding on the leaves of your quince. These are the larvae of sawflies that overwinter in the tree and feed on the top layer of the leaf. They do not pose a serious threat, and can be removed by hand.

The other threat to Quince is fruit bat. This can be attracted if the fruit is left on the tree after ripening.

If your Quince encounters a fungal disease, it will most likely be Leaf fleck. This is most common in humid coastal areas in Australia.

Several of the popular Quince varieties in Australia have resistance to fleck, but you can help prevent it by removing fallen leaves and fruit.

You can also spray your Quince with Bordeaux mixture to prevent fungal problems. This can be done in autumn and again in the spring.

How and when to pick quinces

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The right time for picking quince depends on how you plan to use the fruit.

If making jams, pick the fruit before it ripens to retain the pectin. Cut the fruit from the tree at its stalk using a clean sharp knife at a slight angle.

If picking Quinces when they are ripe, push the fruit up slightly and twist it gently. If the fruit is ripe, the twig should snap.

Quince generally becomes ripe in Autumn, when the colour of the fruit changes from light green to golden yellow.

FAQ

How do you know when quinces are ripe?

Quinces are ripe when the colour turns from pale to golden at the end of autumn. The longer the fruits stay on the tree, the more flavour they develop.

Will quince ripen off the tree?

Yes, Quince fruit will ripen off the tree. If you pick them before they have ripened, put them on trays and leave them in a cool, dark spot. Make sure the fruits aren’t touching whilst they ripen.

When do quince trees flower?

Both Rosacea Quince tree genera feature eye-catching, five-petal flowers which bloom in late winter to early spring. Flowering Quince blooms in mid-spring.

Do quince trees have invasive roots?

Quince has a spreading growth habit. If you find it to be invasive, cut away the bottom parts of the tree to inhibit its spread.

Photo of author

James Bartlett

James is an agriculture and sustainability author with over ten years of experience. His specialties are in the management of pests and diseases through biological or chemical means, as well as plant nutrition. He has authored articles on topics including plant care and how to maintain biodiversity in gardens. He has previously worked in nurseries, and today strives to keep an urban garden alive, healthy and thriving.

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