Quinces are long-lived, ornamental, medium-sized, flowering trees with pretty blossom in mid-May and good autumn colour, but they are mainly grown for their fruit. These cannot be eaten raw but make excellent jelly or preserve. Quinces are often confused with the shrub Chaenomeles (Japanese quince), the fruit of which is also edible.


Quick facts

Common name Quince
Botanical name Cydonia oblonga
Group Fruit, tree
Flowering time Late spring
Planting time Late autumn to early spring
Height and spread 3.5-4.5m (11-15ft) on Quince A rootstock grown as a half-standard. On Quince C rootstock 3-3.5m (10-11ft), grown as a bush
Aspect warm, sunny, sheltered situation
Difficulty Easy

Cultivation notes

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.

Pruning and training

Quinces fruit mostly on the tips of the shoots made the previous year. They do not form many fruiting spurs. Prune and train in the dormant season between late autumn and early spring. The branch framework is developed along the same lines as for an apple. After the fourth year, only light pruning is necessary, apart from the occasional removal of crowding or low-lying branches.

Pruning established trees

  • For good cropping, prune every winter, when growth can be thinned to improve light penetration and air circulation
  • Remove no more than a quarter of the oldest branches, by cutting back to the point of origin or to a shoot that is one-third of the diameter of the branch being removed
  • Remove crowded branches, very vigorous shoots and branches showing little growth. Remove any suckers around the base, and clean off unwanted shoots on the main stem


There are several methods of propagating quince including budding (chip and T-budding), grafting, hardwood cuttings and by removing suckers.

Cultivar Selection

There are a number of edible quinces to choose from;

  • ‘Portugal’ (syn: ‘Lusitanica’) – best flavoured fruit, pear-shaped, 13-18cm (5-7in) long, deep yellow covered with grey down. The tree is more vigorous than other cultivars, but less hardy
  • ‘Vranja Nenadovic’ AGM – golden pear-shaped, aromatic fruit, 13-18cm (5-7in) long. Very good flavour. Precocious cropper
  • ‘Meech’s Prolific’ – pear-shaped, bright golden yellow fruits of very good flavour, 13-18cm (5-7in) long. Flowers very large, growth vigorous


RHS Find a Plant


Many of the insect pests – codling moth or winter moth caterpillars for instance – which attack apples or pears will also attack quinces, but are seldom significant.

Quince leaf blight is usually the only disease that can be troublesome but others may occur such as powdery mildew, brown rot and fireblight.

Shop Fruit Tress

Browse our range of fruit trees from the RHS Plant Shop


Did you find the advice you needed?

RHS members can get exclusive individual advice from the RHS Gardening Advice team.

Join the RHS now

Get involved

The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.