Peach blossom - Chaenomeles japonica

Peach blossoms

The chaenomeles, commonly called "Japanese quince, flower quince" or "peach blossom", is a shrub, or small tree, with deciduous leaves, very appreciated for its early and colorful flowering as well as for its fruits. It is an extremely easy to grow essence that can be inserted in all gardens, both as an isolated specimen and in mixed hedges, even with defensive functions.
The common name peach blossom indicates a medium-sized shrub, of Asian origin, widespread in gardens, closely related to apples and quince, whose botanical name is Chaenomeles japonica, to remember its eastern origins; in fact in the gardens chaenomeles hybrids are now widespread.
It is a shrub that generally remains below two meters in height, with erect stems, poorly branched, often covered by sharp thorns, with deciduous leaves. The foliage is dark green, oval or lanceolate, and occurs after flowering. The flowers of chaenomeles japonica they are very reminiscent of the flowers of apple trees, although in general the species cultivated in the garden are much more floriferous than a fruit plant, and have very colorful flowers, in shades of pink, and for this reason they are commonly called peach blossom. THE peach blossom they bloom in small clusters, well scattered along the branches without leaves, towards the end of winter, giving the shrub an unusual grace. Towards the end of the flowering the leaves also appear, but surely these shrubs are much more showy when without leaves, because the flowers stand out very much on the dark and bare branches, which seem dry.
In late spring, the flowers follow small fruits, similar to small quinces, with a sharp and mild taste; they are edible fruits, although they can be eaten only after cooking, they are sometimes used in compotes or jams, or added to jams of other fruits, to make them more dense, given the richness of pectin of these small apples.

How to grow peach blossom

The success of these plants in the garden is due in particular to their rusticity: they adapt to any soil and also to a very rigid or dry climate.
They find a place in a sunny place, near other shrubs or as single specimens; with peach blossoms often small thorny hedges are created, bare in winter, but thick and dense in summer.
Before planting ours chaenomeles let's work the soil thoroughly, enriching it with fresh soil and a little manure; then place the shrub and compress the soil on the sides of the plant stems with the heel; we water the plant at the time of planting, and then only in good weather and in case of drought, since i chaenomeles japonica well endure drought; an adult plant, well exposed to the elements, generally does not need watering.
In autumn the plant completely loses its foliage, and is prepared for the cold entering a complete vegetative rest, therefore we can completely avoid watering it during the cold period; it bears very harsh temperatures, even close to -15 ° C, so it does not need to be covered, even during the coldest and harshest winter.
When the flowers have withered it is good to prune the shrub every year, otherwise it tends to have an excessively intricate and dense development, depriving the more internal branches of insolation and tending over the years to bloom less and less; the branches ruined by the winter, the thinner or old ones are removed, and all the vegetation is summed up to make it more compact.
The cultivation of flowering quince does not involve great difficulties. It is a very tolerant plant both in terms of climate and the soil.
Here are some tips to always get the most out of them.


Common name

Flowering quince, Japanese quince, peach blossom
Family, genus, species Rosaceae, Chaenomeles, 4 species
Foliage frail
Height From 0.60 to 4.5 meters
Width Up to 2 meters
Maintenance low
Water needs Medium-low
Growth normal
Rusticitа Very rustic, avoid cold winds
Exposure Sun-shade
Soil Normal. Avoid poorly draining or too calcareous soils

Characteristics of chaenomeles japonica

The genus chaenomeles (which derives from the Greek and means "fruit that splits, splits") belongs to the Rosaceae family and includes four species and many hybrids, all rustic. They must absolutely not be confused with the quince, belonging instead to the genus Cydonia.
The most known species are the japonica (found in Japan, but probably native to China), the speciosa (always endemic to all of Southeast Asia), the cathayensis and the thibetica, only discovered in the mid-1900s.
These shrubs, generally of rather small dimensions, rarely exceeding 2 meters, are composed of old branches, with an arched and flexible appearance, and by new, erect and vigorous shoots, both with thorns.
The flowers are formed by simple or double corollas, with a maximum diameter of 5 cm. The simple ones are formed by 5 rounded petals with an abundant tuft of yellow stamens in the center. The colors are very many: they go from bright red to white, contemplating also the soft pink or fuchsia and also the salmon and the orange.

The "uses" of the chaenomeles

This plant belongs to the innumerable plants used for decades in the gardens, in the past years it had been partially forgotten, due to the fashion of having exotic and strange plants in the garden, to the detriment of the vigorous and rustic shrubs of tradition. Lately it seems that he is experiencing a second youth, thanks to his salient features: early flowers, when the garden is still bare, rustic, thorns.
In fact it is a very easy plant to cultivate, also suitable for the beginner gardener, who often fails to dedicate as much time to the garden as he would like; the flowers are very beautiful and, since after flowering it would be good to prune the shrub, nothing prevents us from pruning some branch just flowered to enjoy the flowering even at home, in a beautiful large vase.
This plant then goes well with other spring-flowering shrubs, such as chymonanthus, deutzie or forsizie.
The small fruits can then be used over the months, as happens for the apples, if picked still unripe and placed in a cool and dark place they are kept for months, without withering; we can then use a couple for every kilo of berries to prepare a thick jam, or we can store them in the cupboards, like our great-grandmothers did, to give the laundry a delicate aroma of fresh apple.
If we are concerned about the presence of fruits in the garden, which we do not wish to consume and which would therefore remain attached to the plant, in a slow degradation, in the nursery we can find varieties of sterile peach blossoms, which do not produce fruit.

Flowers and leaves

The flowers appear, among the first, at the end of winter and for this reason they are, together with forsythia, one of the symbols of the arrival of summer. They bloom directly from the branch, like in the peach tree, before the appearance of the leaves. They are an irresistible attraction for bees and other pollinating insects.
The leaves are narrow and with a finely serrated edge, a beautiful bright green. They are also decorative in autumn as, especially in some cultivars, the colors turn towards the golden and the purple.

The fruits of the peach blossom

The fruits ripen in autumn taking on a beautiful yellow color with hints of red. They cannot be eaten raw, since they are very hard and with a taste between acid and bitter. With cooking, however, they become sweet and can be used for the preparation of jams and jellies. Especially popular are those derived from the japonica species: their flavor is reminiscent of guava.
From raw they have the advantage of being extremely fragrant. They can be used to perfume linen (just insert one in the closet) or the rooms (a single fruit will be sufficient even for large rooms).

History and origins

The chaenomeles are all native to central and southeastern Asia. The first species, the japonica, was found by Thumberg in Japan in the late 1700s. Later, by Sir Joseph Banks, the speciosa was also discovered. Both were introduced in a short time to Europe, to the point that at the end of the 1800s it was already possible to draw on a catalog of more than 40 varieties. The first hybrids were obtained by G. Frahm in 1900.


The is suitable for many different types of terrain. Only those characterized by a large presence of calcium should be avoided: it could cause the appearance of leaf chlorosis, with consequent little overall vitality of the specimen.
Soils that are too compact and are not guaranteed to drain well must also be avoided or improved. In that case it will be good to intervene before the implant by setting up a thick draining layer on the bottom of the hole and possibly incorporating abundant compost, organic soil conditioner and a little sand.

Exposure and rusticity

To obtain an abundant growth and flowering it is good to always place the peach blossom in an area in full sun or at most half shade (possibly though in the East, where the light arrives early in the morning, especially in winter).
Cold is rarely a problem for this essence since it tolerates very well up to -20 ° C. If we live in alpine areas above 800 meters it may be a good idea to place it near a wall, so that it is protected from the winds.
It also reveals a shrub very suitable for urban spaces: it tolerates pollution very well indeed.


Generally it is necessary to irrigate only during the first year of planting. Initially it will intervene every 15 days, to then delay in one intervention per month. However, we monitor the sample in the event of intense heat and drought.

The calendar of the flowering quince

Mass dwelling

September to November / March-June
Flowering From February to May, depending on the variety
Fruit harvest September-November
Pruning After flowering or after harvesting
Sowing Spring (after winter stratification)
Talea The end of August


Pruning is carried out immediately after the end of flowering or after the harvest of the fruits: all the branches that cross, the weak or the sick must be eliminated. It is important to ventilate the center of the plant well and give it a neat appearance.
After flowering, we can cut the branches of the year to leave the plant, leaving only two or three buds from below.


The propagation of the chaenomeles is simple. You can proceed by seed or by cutting. Only the second, however, guarantees the maintenance of the peculiar characteristics of hybrids.
The seeds must be taken from the ripe and stratified fruits in wet sand throughout the winter, outside or in the refrigerator (if we live in the Center-South). Germination is slow, but is easily achieved and flowering plants can be obtained within the first two years.
Semi-woody, agostate branches, about 10 cm long, are taken from lateral jets. The cut is dusted with rooting hormones and inserted into a very light and draining compost. We maintain high humidity, helping us also with a plastic cover. To obtain a fast rooting, the temperature must always be kept above 16 ° C. The seedlings can generally be put in individual jars already from October and then put them in permanent shelter the following spring


The chaenomeles can find different uses. It is excellent for creating rustic hedges mixed with other shrubs, also with thorns. In this way it will also have a defensive function. It goes very well with hawthorn, blackthorn and sea buckthorn. Also the combination with forsythia is excellent, given the concomitance of the blooms.
It is possible to breed it even as a climber, as its branches are long and very flexible.
It is conceivable in any case to use it also as an isolated specimen or to create points of interest with other shrubs. Originally, in England, sapling was very common.
It is an essence very suitable for the creation of bonsai, spectacular for flowering and fruiting.


The flowering quince is generally sold in pots and can therefore be planted at any time of the year, except when the ground is frozen or the temperatures are extremely high.
The best time to proceed is certainly the autumn, so that in spring it is already at least partially liberated and can devote itself to vegetative growth.
In the open ground
We dig a deep and wide hole at least twice the ground bread. On the bottom we create a thick draining layer, then insert a good quantity of flour manure and finally the plant, filling and compacting it with the extracted soil (possibly made more draining and aerated with soil improver).
In pot
We must opt ​​for a cultivar with limited development. The container must have a diameter of at least 30 cm and a depth of 40. On the bottom we create the drainage layer and then we use a compost obtained by mixing universal soil with field soil in equal measure.

Pests and adversities

Frequent cryptogams are scab and monilia. They lead to the dessication of flowers and leaves, as well as the formation of rameal cancers. Copper is excellent for prevention.
Even the powdery mildew is felt, especially when hot and other humid days alternate: it must be prevented by using wettable sulfur.
The flowering quince is, like all Rosaceae, subject to the fire blight. We pay particular attention in the event of ramosa dessication.

Peach blossom - Chaenomeles japonica: Variety of Chaenomeles

Chaenomeles japonica: it is a shrub with a maximum height of 120 cm, which blooms between March and April. It expands mainly in width. It blooms and fruits profusely. The alpine variety has orange flowers, very small fruits and is semi-prostrated.
Chaenomeles speciosa large flowers, from red to scarlet. Up to 3 meters high. It is available in many cultivars.
Chaenomeles cathayensis white flowers with pink edges. Up to 4.5 meters high. Great yellow fruits
Chaenomeles x speciosa hybrid. Up to 2 meters. Numerous cultivars: Nivalis, Falconnet Charlet, Eximia, Kinshiden.
Chaenomeles x superb hybrid, generally with limited development. Cultivars: Cameo, Crimson and Gold, Elly Mossel, Etna, Issai White
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