RHS Growing Guides

How to grow quinces

Our detailed growing guide will help you with each step in successfully growing Quince.

  1. Getting Started
  2. Choosing
  3. Planting
  4. Plant Care
  5. Pruning and Training
  6. Harvesting
  7. Problems

Getting Started

Getting Started
Section 1 of 7
Easy to grow, hardy and generally trouble-free, quince trees are attractive and productive. They produce large, highly fragrant fruits, usually golden yellow in colour. These aren’t edible raw, but can be cooked to make aromatic quince jelly, desserts and a quince paste called membrillo. As these unusual fruits are rarely available in shops, the best way to enjoy their deliciously aromatic flavour is to grow your own.  

The attractive golden fruits of quince trees can be made into aromatic preserves and cooked desserts
Quince trees (Cydonia oblonga) look fairly similar to apple trees and produce pretty spring blossom as well as fruit. They can range from large spreading trees that make an attractive focal point in a lawn, especially in warmer locations, to more compact forms suitable for smaller gardens or even large pots. They usually start cropping when five or six years old. Quince trees are self-fertile, so you’ll get a good crop with just one tree, without any need for a pollination partner.

The Cydonia quince is sometimes confused with the Japanese quince or Chaenomeles, a thorny shrub grown for its spring blossom. This also produces aromatic fruits, but they’re much smaller and, although edible, aren’t worth eating. There is also a Chinese quince (Pseudocydonia sinensis), which is less widely available but forms an attractive, compact tree with aromatic fruits that can be cooked in the same way as Cydonia quinces.

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For growing in a small garden or container, choose a quince tree grafted onto dwarfing or semi-dwarfing roots
There are several varieties of quince to choose from, offering different ripening times, fruit sizes, shapes and flavours. Quince trees can be bought as grafted plants, on roots that will limit their eventual size – usually ‘Quince A’ (semi-dwarfing), and ‘Quince C’ and ‘Quince Eline’ (dwarfing), which make them suitable for smaller gardens and even containers. Ungrafted plants may also be available, but will form large trees, so are only suitable if you have plenty of space. 

When choosing any fruit trees, look for varieties with an RHS Award of Garden Merit (AGM), which shows they performed well in trials, so should grow and crop reliably. You can also see many productive fruit trees, including quinces, in the fruit and veg areas of RHS gardens, so do visit to see how they are grown, compare the varieties and pick up useful growing tips. 

What and where to buy 

Quince trees may be available in larger garden centres, but for the widest choice visit specialist fruit nurseries and online fruit tree suppliers. Quinces are best bought as two-year-old trees with the first branches already formed. They are sold ready for planting in two forms:  

  • Bare-root trees – only available while dormant, from late autumn to early spring, for immediate planting, and generally cheaper than trees in pots
  • Containerised trees – available all year round for planting at any time, but winter is preferable

When buying, check the roots and avoid pot-bound plants, as tightly packed roots may be stunted and not grow well once in the ground.

Recommended Varieties



Plant new quince trees between November and March, while they are dormant. Choose a warm, sunny, sheltered spot, as the flowers open early so are susceptible to frost damage, and sun is needed for the fruit to ripen. Avoid planting in a spot prone to late frosts. In southern England or milder urban or coastal locations, quinces usually crop well in open ground, but further north or in colder or exposed sites, they are best planted against a south- or south-west-facing wall, for extra warmth and shelter. Allow space for the tree’s eventual size – free-standing quinces can eventually reach a height and spread of 4–5m (13–16ft), depending on the rootstock, position and soil type.

Quinces tolerate a range of soils, but ideally it should be deep, fertile and moisture-retentive. They like some dampness in summer, but avoid planting in locations prone to waterlogging in winter. In light or shallow chalky soil, add plenty of organic matter before planting and mulch well afterwards, to help hold moisture in the soil.

Prepare your tree for planting by giving it a thorough watering if it’s in a pot or by standing it in a bucket of water for half an hour if it’s a bare-root tree. Quince trees are easy to plant and should settle in quickly – you’ll find lots of advice in our easy planting guides below.

Planting in containers 

Compact varieties of quince on a dwarfing rootstock can be grown in large containers filled with peat-free soil-based compost. A pot 45cm (18in) wide is the smallest feasible option, and 60cm (2ft) would be ideal. See our video guide below for full planting instructions.


Plant Care

Once established, quince trees need little maintenance – simply protect the blossom from late frost if necessary, make sure they don’t go short of water, and consider feeding to boost fruiting.


Water newly planted quince trees particularly well throughout their first growing season. Quinces prefer relatively moist soil and even established trees will benefit from extra water during hot, dry spells, especially when the fruits are swelling. Trees in containers dry out much more quickly than those in the ground, so need generous watering from spring through to autumn – aim to keep the compost moist but not waterlogged. Over winter, raise the container on pot feet or bricks to keep the drainage holes clear, so excessive moisture can drain away.


After feeding in early spring (see below), spread a mulch of garden compost or well-rotted manure around the tree, in a layer about 7.5cm (3in) deep, to keep the roots cool and moist. Leave a gap around the base of the trunk.


To boost fruiting, feed quinces in early spring with a high potassium general fertiliser, such as Vitax Q4 – scatter one handful per square metre/yard around trees growing in bare soil, and one-and-a-half handfuls around those in grass. You can also apply sulphate of ammonia (35g/12oz per square metre/yard) every few years, especially on light, sandy soil.

Feed quinces growing in containers fortnightly in spring and summer with a high potassium liquid fertiliser. Also, repot them every few years in spring, into a slightly larger container, once their roots fill the current container. Use peat-free loam-based potting compost.

Protecting flowers from frost 

Quinces flower very early in the year, so if frost is forecast, protect the blossom on smaller trees with fleece or hessian, removing it during the day to allow pollinating insects access to the flowers.


There are several methods to grow new plants from an existing quince tree, including: 

It is also possible to grow new plants from the seeds of quince fruits, but germination and growth can be slow, and the resulting trees may produce lower-quality fruit than the parent plant.


Pruning and Training

Prune newly planted quinces in the same way as apple trees. Aim to create an open-centred, goblet shape. If you get your quince into good shape early on, then only minimal pruning should be needed in future years. See our guide to initial pruning – although this is about apples, it applies equally to quinces.

Once established, quinces only need light pruning, which should be done in winter, while dormant, if necessary. This usually just consists of removing any dead, damaged or diseased wood, and thinning out any congested, unproductive or wayward stems. Aim to maintain a framework of well-spaced branches on a clear trunk. Quinces are tip-bearers, meaning the fruits mainly form on the tips of shoots formed the previous year, so take care not to remove these. As quince trees are usually grafted, also remove any suckers that sprout around the base.

With overgrown or congested quince trees, you can remove up to a quarter of the oldest branches if necessary, to open up the centre and create a balanced shape. 



Harvest just before the first frost, to give the fruits time to develop their aromatic flavour
Quince fruits should be harvested in October or November, when they’ve turned from a light yellow to a golden colour and are extremely aromatic. They won’t usually ripen fully in UK summers, but leave them on the tree for as long as possible to enhance their flavour, then harvest before any frost. 

The fruit should be stored for at least six to eight weeks, to allow it to ‘mellow’ before use. Only pick and store undamaged fruits, placing them in a cool, dark place in slatted wooden or cardboard trays – ensure the fruits don’t touch, and don’t wrap them. Quinces are strongly aromatic, so avoid storing with other fruits. They will keep for two or three months, so have the benefit of a long season of use. Quinces can’t be eaten raw, but can be turned into deliciously aromatic jams, jellies, sweet pies and tarts, and a traditional Spanish quince paste called membrillo.

Related RHS Guides
Fruit: storing



Guide Start
Section 7 of 7

Quince trees are usually robust and healthy, with few issues. Although many of the diseases and insects that affect apples and pears can also affect quinces, they are seldom significant problems. See below for details.

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