Fruiting quince can be pruned now

Though quince flesh is rock-hard and sour initially, when boiled in sugar water it is quite tasty. CONTRIBUTED BY WALTER REEVES
Though quince flesh is rock-hard and sour initially, when boiled in sugar water it is quite tasty. CONTRIBUTED BY WALTER REEVES

Q: I have become interested in growing fruiting quince and have several plants ('Le Page', 'Aromatnaya', 'Cookes Jumbo', 'Van Deamon'). Do they fruit on current year's growth or last years? I need to prune them a bit. They are delicious if properly prepared. Philip Wood, email

A: I commonly see two different kinds of quince. "Flowering" quince, Chaenomeles speciosa, flowers in late February with red, white or pink blooms. Fruit is small and inconsequential. The blossoms come from buds originating on last year's growth. These shrubs can be pruned after flowering is finished.

"Fruiting" quince, Cydonia oblonga , is a small tree that blooms on new wood. For best results, prune in winter to stimulate new growth in early spring, which will then produce large quince fruit from which you can make your quince preserves.

Q: My mother has big pecan and oak trees. This year I dumped the fallen leaves in a low part of her back yard in an effort to build it up. How can I speed their deterioration? Undine Gore-Luncheon, email

A: If you have some old lumpy fertilizer in your garage, hastening the decomposition of tree leaves is a perfect use. Shatter the lumps with a hammer and scatter them on the pile. I would start with a pint of fertilizer on a 10' x 10' area and evaluate in a couple of months.

Q: Is there a alternative to leaving plants like tropical hibiscus outside instead of bringing them inside? I recently moved and do not have the room I once had in the garage. Walt Goddard, Clermont

A: Trying to get a tropical hibiscus to survive winter outdoors in Atlanta means you're fighting Mother Nature. My colleague Theresa Schrum notes: "Mother Nature always bats last."

Tropical hibiscus simply does not have the physical capacity to tolerate freezing temperatures. If you can keep it in a place where the temperature does not go lower than 50 degrees, it will drop many leaves but it will survive. At temperatures slightly lower than that, cell damage becomes too great. If you have a sheltered corner outdoors where two stone or brick walls come together, you could put the hibiscus there and hope the dense materials radiate enough heat at night to keep your plant alive. It might work in a mild winter.

Q: We are transplants from southern California. I want to landscape my grandson's new home with a hedge in between his yard and his neighbor's. He is 21 with no interest in gardening and I will not be around forever to help him. Kathleen Wasik, Paulding County

A: Welcome to Georgia! You are astute to realize that our plant palette is very different from California. Much depends on how big your screen needs to be. Fortunately, I have lots of options at

Listen to Walter Reeves’ segments at 6:35 AM on “Green and Growing” with Ashley Frasca Saturday mornings on 95.5 WSB. Visit his website,, follow him on Twitter @walterreeves, on Pinterest, or join his Facebook Fan Page at for more garden tips.