Hardly any fruit tree is less complicated than a quince tree. Diseases rarely occur, only occasionally do individual fruits rot. Many a quince tree bears more fruit than is needed. But because the quince is back in fashion, it is certainly easy to find buyers for the golden-yellow harvest with the aromatic, wonderfully fragrant fruits.
A portrait of the quince tree
Pear or apple? Quinces are classified according to the shape of the fruit. However, this is only a rough guide. Sometimes completely different fruits hang on the same quince tree. The much smaller Japanese false quinces are not true quinces, but are processed in the same way. The fruits of the true quince are very rich in vitamins and are often used for homemade treats. The beautiful flowers that appear in spring are popular with bees.
If you are guided by the botanical names when selecting plants, you will find the shrub-like growing false or ornamental quinces under their Latin name Chaenomeles. The quince trees, on the other hand, belong to the genus Cydonia.
In general, they are relatively small trees or even shrubs, so that a large garden is not necessary for this fruit tree. In the past, a quince tree could be found in many farm gardens. However, this fruit tree species has almost fallen into oblivion in Central Europe. One reason for the current boom in quince may be the somewhat milder and less hardy Turkish varieties such as ‘Limon Ayvasi’, which one knows from holidays or from the greengrocer. Quince expert Monika Schirmer observes a whole series of these varieties that have been doing well in her home town of Regensburg for years and bear just as regularly as old familiar varieties. Short but beautiful: Around May and June, the flowers on the quince tree open.
Site conditions: How to get the quince tree right
Whether of Turkish origin, apple-shaped ‘Cydopom’ or pear-type ‘Beretzky’ – the quinces all have similar demands on the location. The soil can be loamy, as long as it does not tend towards waterlogging or is too calcareous.
The rule of thumb: If the soil pH is above 7, there is a risk of iron deficiency and chlorotic, i.e. yellowed leaves. A quince tree accepts poor soil without complaint. However, it occasionally needs an extra drink of water from the garden hose, especially in the first few years.
With quinces, it is important to recognise the right time to harvest. Flesh browning can occur with quinces that are picked late. However, brown discolouration can also be caused by incorrect care – it is important for the trees to receive regular and continuous water as well as nutrients.
When the fruits turn yellow, it is time to harvest. The latest time for harvesting is when the first quince falls from the tree without any intervention. At this time, the inside of the fruit is still bright white.
Self-fertile and high-yielding
Quince trees are also frost-hardy. However, very low winter temperatures can lead to wood frost. If you want to plant a quince tree, it is therefore better to choose a sheltered, sunny site that is at least 3×3 metres in size.
Another plus of this self-fertile fruit species: after planting pruning, which your nursery will be happy to do for you, the crown only needs to be thinned out a little every few years. However, a quince tree will bear abundantly and regularly even without pruning.
If space is very limited, a quince tree can also be grown on a trellis. This is also a good way of concealing unsightly walls and using garden areas that are too small for a fruit tree with a pronounced crown.
Variety tips: Which quince tree is the best?
Three questions for Monika Schirmer. She has been privately involved with quince for over 40 years:
Why Turkish varieties?
Turkey is the main growing country for this type of fruit. Interesting varieties are cultivated there.
Are they at all hardy here?
Any quince tree – regardless of the variety – can be damaged by frost. But at several locations in Bavaria, some Turkish varieties are being cultivated in trials. So far, there have been no major problems, so that cultivation in the garden could definitely be ventured.
What is the difference to known varieties?
I don’t want to make that general statement, because the Turkish cultivars also differ greatly from each other, and not all of the tested cultivars are available. But the pear-shaped fruits of ‘Limon Ayvasi’, for example, captivate with their fine lemon aroma and fine-cell flesh. Ekmak Ayvasi’ means “loaf” or “bread”. This indicates that the fruits are suitable for fresh consumption under optimal conditions.
You have already harvested and now need ideas on how to process the many fruits in a tasty way? Then take a look at our quince recipes.