Flowering quince trees provide gardens with ornamental interest, due to their spring blossoms but also provide practical use in the form of privacy hedges and boundary shrubs. Gardeners growing quince for foliage rather than flowers prune their trees during any season without causing harm to the plants. Those interested in flowers prune their flowering quince plants immediately after flowers fade but before the first shoot flush develops.
Flowering quince (Chaenomeles speciosa) produce blooms on the previous year's growth -- also called old wood. Prune your flowering quince once flowers fall. New growth flourishes after pruning and the buds set for next year. Avoid cutting back new shoot growth, as this results in limited, if any, flowers the following year.
Wear gloves when pruning your flowering quince because its branches are thorny. Cut back any diseased or dead branches. Assess the plant and remove unshapely growth. Gardeners remove old wood first, cutting it back to ground level. Only remove up to one-third of the plant's growth. Cutting back more than one-third places next year's flowering quince blossoms at risk.
Flowering quince grows to heights up to 3 metres and frequently takes the form of a twiggy medium-sized bush. Prune flowering quince into a tree-like shape by selecting a straight, upward growing leader to encourage lateral branch growth. Trim back low-lying branches. Hedges and shrubs benefit from thinning out old growth. This practice encourages new growth within the bush's centre. New growth in a hedge's centre results in a healthy, light look rather than a dense appearance.
Save neglected shrubs with renewal pruning, a technique in which the plant is severely cut back over a period of time. Severely prune flowering quince before spring growth begins. Once flowers have faded, cut stems back to 15 to 30 cm from ground level. New shoots appear and grow throughout midsummer during which time gardeners shape their hedges. Cut back lateral branches until you achieve a compact appearance. Timing is important. Plants experience stress when they undergo winter and autumn pruning.
Flowering quince produces apricot, cream, white and red flowers. Choose a variety suited to your landscape. Gardeners interested in small, compact specimens plant Japanese quince (Chaenomeles japonica), which is similar in appearance but reaches only about 1 metre in height.