Chaenomeles japonica

cath923December 3, 2013

Does anyone know if and how I can train a japanese quince into a standard? It is about 10 years old and very untidy. Also, most of the flowers bloom almost out of sight low in the bush. It is now December and it is covered in buds already so I brought some in and am enjoying the flowers now as they pop open!

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Sara Malone Zone 9b

These plant sucker so aggressively that I can't imagine that a standard form would be successful. To increase the flowering (and its visibility) you can spur-prune it by pruning the side shoots to 2-3 buds. Best to do this in spring/summer, after flowering. You can shorten new growth as well as prune the spurs. Both should help flowering and overall appearance of the shrub, which is fairly messy at best.

Good luck!

Sara

    Bookmark   December 3, 2013 at 1:25PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

If this is, in fact the quite low- and dense-growing, usually some shade of orange-flowered C. japonica - and not one of the taller kinds (the old fashioned, usually red-flowered shrub which is called by the common name "japonica" in Britain, is C. speciosa; it is also represented in cultivation by named cultivars producing flowers of various colors; some forms on the market belong to the hybrid between the two called C. x superba) - it won't have the right type of growth for training up into a tree shape. (It might be possible to graft one onto a fruiting quince stem to produce a lollipop tree, although I haven't seen this done myself).

What has been done with the tall ones is to train them against walls, cutting them back right after flowering to maintain the flat shape. The flowers can show quite well under such circumstances.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2013 at 4:46PM
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Sara Malone Zone 9b

Yes, I just looked it up in the American Hort Pruning guide and espalier is one of their suggestions. Be careful, though, may have nasty thorns!

    Bookmark   December 3, 2013 at 5:23PM
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cath923

Thank you both of you. I can't believe the speed with which you replied! I think I'll follow most of your suggestions with the shrub - I'll spur prune the main plant and then try digging up some of the suckers and rooting them to make an espalier to go against the wall. One of them, I'll experiment with and try turning it into a standard although I agree it probably won't work! Lots to do in the spring!
And yes - those thorns do hurt!

    Bookmark   December 3, 2013 at 9:08PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

first off .... its your plant.. presumably.. you have pruning shears.. go for it ... who cares what the rules are ... what do you have to lose???

but... secondly ... you might be about 10 years too late to be successful ... but again .. what do you have to lose ... get rid of it now.. or get rid of it later ...

and finally.. option C .... most standard plants are grafted ... either once or twice... perhaps choosing a better root stock .. and this MIGHT limit your options ... who knows ...

regardless.. refer to option IV above... what do you have to lose????

ken

    Bookmark   December 4, 2013 at 6:57AM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

We're not talking about rules, as in human conventions or customs, we're talking about what is feasible based on the physical structure and growth modes of specific shrubs.

Commercial growers use pruning and training to produce clear trunks and elevated crowns rather often, I'm not sure top grafting for that particular outcome is the dominant approach.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2013 at 2:31PM
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mikebotann(8a SE of Seattle)

The suckering would drive me nuts!
Mike

    Bookmark   December 7, 2013 at 4:53AM
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floral_uk z.8/9 SW UK

I have found one vague reference to Chaenomelese being grown as standards by Victorian gardeners but there is no mention of how they did it. I would imagine it would be best to start with a single stem rooted cutting, just as in making any 'lollipop' tree, and work from there rather than trying to prune an established shrub into a standard.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2013 at 5:58AM
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Campanula UK Z8

Oh yes, this is very feasible with some cultivars (Cameo, Crimson and Gold and Rowallane) - I think these are all Xsuperba and have a less exuberant basal growth than the old speciosa. Easier to be done when young. but you can train, prune and lop an older specimen - they are very forgiving of being cut back as long as it is a planned operation done in a couple of stages and you will need a support system of a stout post and possibly a canopy, sometimes used in growing weeping standards (a bicycle wheel, attached to a pole might work). A bit like any pruning operation to lop off lower lateral branches, keeping the main stem as clean as possible. I have seen an old and very gnarly shrub treated in just such a manner (although I am not a fan of standards myself) - a bit like raising a standard wisteria, the key is in the pruning.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2013 at 5:07PM
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cath923

Thanks so much, everyone! I'm looking forward to lots of experimenting in the spring - though I just might try digging up a sucker while it is frozen and tuck it in somewhere to await surgery.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2013 at 6:40PM
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Sara Malone Zone 9b

Mike I just removed about a half a dozen due to the suckering and the needed pruning to keep them looking tidy. Too rangy for me. And in this climate, many other things look attractive in late winter/early spring.

Sara

    Bookmark   December 8, 2013 at 12:53PM
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mikebotann(8a SE of Seattle)

Quince is one of those plants that only looks good when it's flowering. Very welcome in early spring paired with forsythia. That's when I enjoy them...in other people's gardens.
No fall color to speak of, and the winter branching pattern looks like a poorly stacked pile of brush. Even in summer the leaves look bad here.
Constant pruning seems to be the answer.... if you can handle the thorns. My garden is rather large and I just don't have the time nor the desire to bleed.
I removed a really old one in sandy ground on a landscape job I was doing a few years ago. The extensive root system gave the bulldozer I was running a hard time!

Mike

    Bookmark   December 8, 2013 at 1:34PM
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floral_uk z.8/9 SW UK

Mine is espaliered against a stone wall. In the summer it is behind all the other stuff in the flowerbed.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2013 at 12:55PM
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Sara Malone Zone 9b

What a good way to use this plant, flora(l)!

Sara

    Bookmark   December 10, 2013 at 1:08PM
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Campanula UK Z8

mmm, I have a Crimson and Gold cultivar espaliered against a black timber structure (which also supports climbing roses and clems). In spring, the vivid new leaves and startling scarlet blooms look absolutely fantastic (and very Japanese/Oriental) against black stained wood - one of my (few) design successes in my (mish-mash of a) garden.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2013 at 6:33PM
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floral_uk z.8/9 SW UK

Mine's Crimson and Gold, too, Campanula. It's against pale stone.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2013 at 1:17PM
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Sara Malone Zone 9b

I say that this is definitely a plant that the Brits have figured out how to use! Good show.

Sara

    Bookmark   December 11, 2013 at 9:25PM
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cath923

I guess the reason I planted the Chaenomeles in the first place is that we had some beautiful ones in the UK where I was brought up and it reminded me of happy days. I must admit I had forgotten the thorns!
The branch I brought in to enjoy has now flowered and is done so time to cut another one! Looks so much better on the window sill than between a rose, a hibiscus moscheutos and an orange daylily! All vying for the same space!

    Bookmark   December 11, 2013 at 10:38PM
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