Quinces tolerate a range of soil but grow best in a deep, fertile, moisture-retentive soil. They grow particularly well when planted near a pond or stream.
Although they are hardy, they need a warm, sunny, sheltered spot, as the flowers are susceptible to frost, and sun is needed for the fruit to ripen. In southern England they can be grown in the open, but farther north it is best planted in a sheltered position, for example against a wall with a south or south-west aspect.
Quinces are grown as half-standard or bush trees. They are often grown on the rootstocks Quince A and C, or sometimes on their own roots and are best bought as a two-year-old tree with the first branches already formed.
Plant new quinces between November and March. Bush trees should be about 3.5m (12ft) apart, and half-standards about 4.5m (15ft) apart. Stake trees for the first three or four years. Quinces are self-fertile and usually start cropping when five- or six-years-old.
As with any fruiting tree, feeding and mulching is important. In February apply a general fertiliser, such as Growmore for example, at 100g per sq m (3oz per sq yd). In late March, apply sulphate of ammonia at 35g per sq m (1oz per sq yd). Mulch in early spring with well-rotted farmyard manure or compost, keeping the material clear of the tree trunk.
Water well in dry during dry spells in spring and summer.
The fruits should be left on the tree as long as possible to develop their flavour, provided there is no danger of frost. They usually ripen in late October or early November when they will be golden-coloured and aromatic.
Only undamaged fruits should be picked and then stored in a cool, dark place on shallow trays. Ensure the fruits do not touch, and do not wrap them. Allow them to ‘mellow’ for six and eight weeks before use. Quinces are strongly aromatic so avoid storing with other fruits. They will keep for two or three months.