Plant of the month: March

chaenomeles_jpg

Botanical name: Chaenomeles × superba ‘Crimson and Gold’ AGM

Common name: Japanese quince

Meaning of name: gaping apple

Size: 1m high x 2m spread

This is a great hardy shrub for spring colour. Gorgeous crimson cup-shaped flowers with yellow centres appear on bare stems from March to May, followed by glossy oval leaves. It’s a member of the rose family (Rosaceae), so do beware of the thorns. Greenish-yellow, aromatic fruit follow the flowers later in the year which can be used to make quince jelly.

The Japanese quince has been used in Chinese medicine for thousands of years to treat arthritis.

Where to plant
You can plant Chaenomeles within a mixed border but it is happiest and most floriferous grown against a wall, in sun or partial shade. It would look great planted with climbing roses where the roses would continue the display after the quince had finished flowering. A fertile neutral soil is preferable, but it can cope with lime.

How to grow
Best propagated by softwood cuttings during the summer. It flowers on the previous year’s growth so heavy pruning should be avoided. After flowering remove any shoots which are dead, diseased or heading in the wrong direction. Also remove any shoots appearing at the base, as this shrubs is prone to suckering just like roses.

Problems to look out for include Fireblight, brown scale and aphids.

 

 

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