One of the largest fruiting quinces with incredible drought tolerance. The fruit is used for candy and makes a thick jelly. The fruit is a dense hard fruit with a mild flavor much like the Chinese quince. It can be boiled in syrup to make a quince spread. It is not edible in its raw state as it is incredibly dense and has little flavor. The pectin levels are very high. Fruits are produced on the thick spurs of the branches making it one of the thorniest shrubs at the farm. The white and pink blossoms are beautiful in the spring. After the leaves fall, the colorful fruits remain up in the bush into December.
Cathay quince is normally listed as a zone 7 plant. Initially my plantings lost a lot of plants due to winter damage. However, four plants produced fruit consistently until one year a minus 25 F landed at the farm. This was a great benefit as now only the strongest plants live and fruit. From previous winters experience, this seed source is now producing an almost zone 5 Cathay quince as new plants in the plantings have showed no winter die back. There is no insect issues with the fruits and no foliar diseases. The foliage is very clean and glossy with new growth emerging a reddish color. New plants are now growing nicely and a second generation will have more fruit soon. From seed it takes roughly eight years to fruit once the trees get to 8 to 10 feet tall. Plants continue to produce more and more spurs which brings on even greater yields. This seed selection is one zone cold hardier than the species normally is. It has been totally resistant to fire blight so far and retains foliage late in the season.
Cathay quince is a strong upright plant with a narrow growth habit. It is said to hybridize with other quince if it is near. I have not seen that yet. New plants that I started four years ago and put on a bluff are strong took the -25F winter once. They are now beginning to produce spurs which in a couple of years will yield fruit. This species is rarely found in North America. The seeds are very hard to come by and it might be I have the only planting to any extent.
To germinate the seed: Put in a plastic zip lock bag with moist media and store for 60-90 days in the refrigerator. The seeds will begin to sprout in the fridge after 60 days. Take the bag out and put at room temperature after dormancy. Seeds will sprout slowly but surely over the course of two weeks. Some seeds that do not sprout can be put back in the fridge for a couple of weeks and taken out again. This will speed dormancy and then sprouting. Treat like you would an apple seedling. The seeds may contain some residual gel. You may have to wash once in the middle of dormancy to prevent too much moisture from rotting the seeds. They do better in slightly drier media in dormancy.
|Genus & Species||Chaenomeles cathayensis|
|Pollination Requirements||Self fertile.|
|Soil||Tolerant to a wide range of soil types including alkaline and hot dry soils of rock and sand.|
|Climate||Zone 6 hardiness and colder to zone 9|
|Ease of Cultivation||An easy plant to grow from seed. The seeds sprout quickly after dormancy. You can direct seed them as well as put them in pots. The fruit is immense but what to do with it is a challenge as it needs to be processed to be used and enjoyed. This seed strain is one zone colder than others by making it to -15F-20F a few times and even below.|