Garden Guy: Colorful Storm Brewing in the Spring Garden

By Norman Winter, Horticulturist, Author and Garden Speaker; Hamilton, GA 


There has been a storm brewing in North Carolina and it is one that will prove to beautify North Texas landscapes for years to come. The Mountain Horticultural Crops Research Station in Mills River NC already horticultural heroes of sorts with their incredible white flowered Sweet Tea Mountain Gordlinia are now bringing the landscape the Double Take™ Storm flowering quinces with the most shocking blooms you ever imagined.

The three selections are Scarlet Storm, Pink Storm and Orange Storm. They are all double flowered and will cause you to first think camellia. With a group of three they now fall under a series called Double Take™, hence you will most likely find Double Take™ Scarlet Storm.

Botanically speaking they are all selections of Chaenomeles speciosa which is native to China. It is the breeding at North Carolina State however that is bringing us these shrubs that will reach approximately 6 feet tall and 4 feet wide at maturity, boasting dazzling double flowers with huge petal counts.

The old fashioned flowering quince always seems to be bare of flowers on the tips or tops of the plant but these blooms that reach up to 2 ½ inches in diameter stretch outward to the tip of the stem. That means the blossoms are almost as large as a tennis ball. They are cold hardy from zones 5-9 and deer resistant.

When you get yours select a site in full to part sun. These great flowering quinces deserve to be planted in a well prepared shrub bed. Incorporate 3 to 4 inches organic matter along with about two pounds of a 5-10-5 fertilizer per 100 square feet of planting area.

Till your soil deeply and dig your hole about three times as wide as the rootball but no deeper. Place the flowering quince in the hole and backfill to two-thirds. Tamp the soil and water to settle. Add the remaining backfill and repeating the process which is getting all of the air pockets out and providing a great start for acclimatization of your new shrub.

These plants bloom on old wood so remember to not get pruning happy when they are in their deciduous or dormant state of winter. If any pruning is needed make these cuts after the spring bloom. Of course these make breathtaking cut flowers, so-select as needed.

These blooms sequence nicely with spring blooming bulbs like Dutch iris, daffodils, and the iridescent blue of the Peruvian lily, Scilla peruviana which is cold hardy to around zero. Try clustering three in front of evergreen hollies.

To read the full story, pick up the March/April issue of LiveIt.