Growing Quince (Cydonia) from Seed

The following question was forwarded to me by Dr. Marisa Thompson, New Mexico State University (NMSU) Extension Horticulture Specialist (see, who hosted a quince harvest day at the NMSU Los Lunas Agriculture Science Center in December, 2021. Many volunteers who had helped Dr. Thompson through the summer and some other people participated in the harvest. We talked a while about growing quince (Cydonia) from seed taken from the fruit harvested:

From Debbie, one of Dr. Thompson’s volunteers:

How are you doing? Do you remember when we harvested quince last fall?  Well, I saved the seeds in the refrigerator and now they are sprouting, Yay.  My problem is that I do not remember what Curtis Smith said on how to plant them. Can you get that information for me or send me a link on what to do next?  

Thank you


The seeds should be “stratified’, that is treated to cold (approximately 40 degree F), moist storage for 6 to 8 weeks before planting. This may be accomplished in a refrigerator, or the seeds may be planted outdoors and kept moist. Outdoors will it will take longer to fulfill the seeds’ “chilling requirement” (needed length of exposure to cold temperatures required to sprout). I place my seeds on moist paper towels in resealable plastic bags in the refrigerator. Other people put them in moist sand in the refrigerator. Debbie’s seeds had begun sprouting in the refrigerator and she was asking what to do next.

My “trick”, what I have done in the past, with quince (apricot, rose, apple, and other) seeds after they have begun sprouting in the refrigerator is to carefully transplant them to moist potting soil in a large clean, reused styrofoam cup, or 4 to 6 inch flower pot. I cover the seed with moist soil so that the root points downward. If leaves have developed I leave those leaves above the potting soil. I keep the potting soil moist and put the new plant in a sunny window or under led lamps until the chance of freezing has past. I can then transplant the container grown seedlings outdoors at my convenience. The longer I leave it in the pot, the better the root development, but also the greater the chance of circling roots if I leave it too long. My first quince stayed in a large styrofoam cup for 5 years (way too long), but it exploded with growth when I planted it outdoors. Plants grown in this manner are quite forgiving if their basic needs are met (adequate water and light).

 In October, 2020, I planted seed from flowering quince (Chanomeles – not the edible quince), “stratifying” them (cold moist storage in the refrigerator in resealable plastic bags on moist paper towels) for several months until roots began to appear. By February, 2021, they had begun to sprout and I did what I described above, putting them in 6 inch pots. Then in the summer I planted most of them outside. They are now (March, 2022) showing signs of resuming growth. Two of them (the smallest ones) I kept in the pots in the garage over the winter, watering as needed, until mid-February. I then moved them to a bright, warm, sunroom and within two weeks they had begun growing. I will plant them outside this spring. 

I recently planted an apricot seed (pit not removed) that I stratified last summer. It had developed numerous roots and a shoot with blanched leaves (no chlorophyll developed in the refrigerator where I had kept it too long), but it was healthy. The resealable plastic bag had kept the paper towel and roots moist. After potting into a 6 inch pot, I placed it under an led lamp on the sun porch. It has greened up and is beginning to grow. I’ll be planting it outside in late April or early May.

Growing many temperate zone plants from seed is quite easy if you understand their need for the cold, moist pretreatment to simulate their exposure to winter conditions. They will not sprout without this because this is a mechanism to prevent them from sprouting too early and then being killed by cold winter temperatures. It is also important to understand that some of these will not be “true to type”. Due to cross pollination, the seedling will usually not produce fruit exactly like the parent fruit from which you took the seeds. Some will produce very poor quality fruit; however others will be of good quality. There is even the chance that you will have a superior fruit, better than the parent. Some, like the quince, will be of good quality. I hope you have fun producing your own new plants from seed you save from temperate zone fruits. Oh yes, it may take from 3 to 7 years, or longer, for some seedlings to begin bearing fruit.

Garden Phenology 2021

It has been a while since I posted about Garden Phenology. I have noticed that the differences from year to year are usually only a few days in the flowering and beginning of growth of plants in my garden. The Phenology I post today will include the 2021 records and records back to 2017. Like the 2018 Phenology page I include some activities in the garden so that this is also a garden calendar.

Garden Phenology 2021

Jan. 31 daffodil leaves first appear

Feb. 2 wood hyacinth leaves appearing

Feb. 8 Santa Rosa plums buds swelling, showing green color, both east side and west side trees

Feb. 9 Spring Satin Plumcot buds swelling, showing green color

Feb. 20 Grape hyacinth flowers appearing in the leaves

Feb. 24 Balaton cherry (east side wall) buds swelling

Feb. 24 Black currant buds swelling

Feb. 26 Red Heart plum buds swelling

Feb. 27 Quince (west side) buds swelling

March 3 Apricot buds swelling

March 4 Grape hyacinth blooming, purple-leaf plum (east side) buds swelling

March 5 Oriental pears buds swelling (west side)

March 6 ‘Carmine Jewel’ bush cherry, persimmon, plums (Carol’s house) buds swelling

March 7 ‘Aromatnaya’ quince (east side) buds swelling

March 8 Lilac buds swelling, showing green

March 9 Red peonies sprouting, ‘Santa Rosa’ plum (east side) first bloom open

March 11 Apricot first bloom open; ‘Pineapple’ quince buds swelling

March 13 Old apple tree buds swelling

March 14 ‘Spring Satin’ plumcot first flower open

March 15 Bartlett (semi-dwrf) pear buds swelling

March 22 Littleleaf mockorange buds swelling; Red heart plum flowers open

March 29 Wood hyacinth first blossom spike visible deep in foliage

March 30 20th century Asian Pear, Pyrus ‘Nijisseki” first blossom open; Golden current blossoms open

April 1 Concord grape (front yard) buds swelling; Hosui Asian Pear flowers open

April 2 Mockorange buds swelling; Fragrant ash buds swelling

April 3 ‘Honey Crips’ apple buds swelling

April 5 Quince (west side) blossoms open; apple blossoms open

April 7 ‘Bianca’ grape buds swelling

April 8 Lilac blossoms opening; ‘Catawba’ grape buds swelling; Dwarf False Indigo buds swelling; Desert                 Willow buds swelling; New Mexico Olive buds swelling for real!, Wood hyacinth blooming in                 entryway.

April 10 ‘Balaton’ sour cherry blossoms open

April 13 Chinese Pistache buds swelling; ‘Regant’ grape and ‘Flame’ grape buds swelling; blackberry        leaves out; iris bloom stalks coming up

April 23 Iris beginning to bloom

Garden Phenology 2020

Feb. 13 – daffodil leaves up (2”)

Feb. 24 – (after my return from Moldova) – ‘Santa Rosa’ plum buds swelling;

                Plumcot buds swelling;

                Golden currant buds swelling

Feb. 27 – Purple leaf plum and Redheart buds just beginning to swell;

                quince (NW corner) buds swelling

Mar. 3 – Oriental Pear buds swelling;

                ‘Redheart’ plum buds swelling;

                Lilac buds swelling;

                ‘Santa Rosa’ plum (east) blossoms beginning to open

Mar. 4 – Apricot buds swelling;

                Purple leaf plum buds swelling;

                ‘Aromatnaya’ and ‘Pineapple’ quince buds swelling;

                daffodil blossom opening;

                red peony sprouts appearing

Mar. 10 – Littleleaf Mockorange buds swelling;

                grape hyacinth blooming;

                aspen catkins coming out

Mar. 11 – ‘Balaton’ pie cherry buds swelling

Mar. 12 – Apple buds swelling;

                ‘Carmine Jewel’ bush cherry at Carol’s house buds swelling

Mar. 14 – white peony sprouts appearing

Mar. 21 – Golden currants blooming

Mar. 22 – Hops sprouting from ground

Mar. 23 – Red oak catkins coming out

                New Mexico olive buds swelling

                Golden Rain tree (Carol’s yard) leaves appearing

Mar. 27 – Fragrant ash buds swelling

Mar. 29 – Chinese pistache buds swelling

                Zoysia grass showing some green growth

Mar. 30 – Blue sage sprouting from the ground

                Quince (‘Crimea’),  west side, blooms opening

                Wood hyacinth first bloom

Mar. 31 – Bartlet pear blossoms opening

April 1 – Asparagus shoots appearing

                ‘Bianca’ grape buds swelling

April 2 – Apple blossoms opening (original unknown tree)

                ‘Honey Crisp’ apple buds starting to open

April 4 – ‘Catawba’ grape buds swelling

                Desert willow buds swelling

                Lilac blossoms opening

April 5 – ‘Regant’ grape buds swelling

                ‘Concord’ grape (back yard) buds swelling

                ‘Flame’ grape buds swelling

                ‘Balaton’ tart cherry blossoms opening

                Iris bloom stalks coming up

April 11 – Dwarf false indigo buds swelling

April 14 – hard freeze last night (23F).  Grapes in back yard burned badly, ‘Catawba’ least damaged.  Concord in front slight damage.

April 15 – hard freeze last night (20F).  Now watching to see if I lost most of my plums, apples, pears, quince, maybe even golden currants

April 17 – Iris beginning to bloom

April 25 – Mustang grape buds swelling; ‘Bianca’ grape buds redeveloping up the stem; ‘Regent’ grape bud growing at base of plant; North garden ‘Concord’ grapes growing from base and some from up the stem; ‘Muscat’ grapes budding out again up the vines; ‘Flame’ grape some sprouting from the base, some up the vines a little

Garden Phenology 2019

Feb. 1 – daffodil leaves have appeared

Feb. 4 – Santa Rosa plum buds swelling, showing a little green;

                wood hyacinth leaves have appeared

Feb. 28 – Apricot flower buds swelling

                Purple leaf plum buds swelling

                Quince (west) buds swelling

March 5 – Spring satin plumcot buds beginning to swell

March 7 – Grape hyacinth blossoms beginning to open

                Santa Rosa plums (west) beginning to open

                Lilac buds green and swelling

                Bartlet pear (semi-dwarf) buds swelling

March 8 – Quince ‘Aromatnaya’ buds swelling

                Quince ‘Pineapple’ buds swelling

                Cherry ‘Balaton’ buds swelling

                Plum ‘Redheart’ buds swelling

March 9 – Apricot blossoms opening

                Hops sprouting

                Lilac buds open to show panicles

March 18 – Red peony sprouting

March 20 – Red oak and Shumard oak buds swelling

March 22 – Littleleaf mockorange buds swelling

March 25 – Asparagus growing

                Black currant flowers open

                Zoysia grass turning green under the brown

March 27 – Red oak catkins out

                Blue sage (front yard) sprouting

March 29 – Fragrant ash buds showing green

March 30 – Concord grapes (front yard) buds breaking

                ‘Honey Crisp’ buds opening

                Oriental ‘Nijisseki’  pear flowers opening

                White peony sprouting

March 31 – Wood hyacinth (front porch) blooming

                ‘Bartlett pear’ (semi-dwarf – blossoms opening

April 1 – Quince (west side) flowers opening

April 2 – ‘Bianca’ grape buds swelling

                ‘Catawba’ grape buds swelling

April 3 – Apple blossoms opening (large tree suckers)

                Chinese pistache buds swelling

April 5 – desert willow buds swelling

April 6 – lilac blossoms opening

                ‘Balaton’ sour cherry flowers opening

April 8 – ‘Regant’ grape buds swelling

                ‘Flame’ grape buds swelling

April 18 – ‘Mustang’ grape buds swelling

                ‘Aromatnaya’ quince flower open

April 19 – first iris blossom open

                Mustang grape buds swelling

                Anisacanthos buds swelling

April 23 – pecan (rootstock?) buds swelling

Garden Phenology 2018

Jan. 30  – wood hyacinth leaves appeared in entryway garden

Feb. 5 – Santa Rosa plum buds swelling, showing some green

Feb. 6 – Daffodil leaves appearing in front yard under the oak tree

Feb. 10 – Quince buds swelling, scales opening at the tip of some buds

Feb. 12 – Golden currant buds swelling

Feb. 26 – Apricot buds beginning to swell.  Quince buds expanding in spite of low temperatures as low as 12 F.  Santa Rosa plum flower buds do not appear to be injured by the 12 F last night.

Feb. 28 – Lilac buds swelling. Quince buds “exploding”! Santa Rosa plum buds beginning to show white (petals).

March 1 – Purple-leaf plum buds beginning to swell – a bright purple bud obvious near the base of the small plant (1 ft. high).

March 3 – Daffodils begin opening flowers

March 5 – Pear buds swelling (opening at the tip); Santa Rosa plum blossoms beginning to open

March 8 – Apricot blossoms beginning to open.  Santa Rosa plums show no injury from the cold weather.

March 10 – Grape hyacinths blooming

March 12 – Asparagus coming up

March 14 – Lilac buds opening to show panicles

March 16 – Redheart plum (planted Feb. 28) buds swelling; pear flower buds revealed in opening buds; quince flower buds revealed above new leaves in opening buds; golden currant flower buds revealed.

March 19 – Balaton pie cherry buds beginning to swell.  It was 26F in the garden last night, but the buds are still swelling. Red peony shoots appearing above ground.

March 20 – Hops are sprouting.

March 21 – Texas red oak and Shumard oak buds swelling.

March 23 – Littleleaf mockorange (Philadelphus microphyllus) and fragrant ash (Fraxinus cuspidate) buds are swelling; apple buds (one of the varieties on the big backyard tree) has buds opening – other apples not yet opening; dwarf North Star pie cherry buds beginning to expand; first golden currant flowers opened.

March 24 – White peony shoots appearing.

March 25 – Blue sage (Salvia azurea) starting to appear in front yard.

March 26 – First quince blossoms opened, black centers may indicate cold damage; first Oriental pear blossoms opened, they look good, but low temperatures coming.

March 30 – Texas red oak catkins formed

March 31 – Concord grape buds swelling; Desert willow buds beginning to swell; Zoysia grass sprouting. Dwarf Bartlett pear buds swelling.

April 1 – Lakota pecan buds swelling.

April 2 – Honeycrisp apple buds swelling,  Anisacanthus quadrifidus var wrightii buds swelling.

April 3 – Dwarf bearded iris blossom scapes developing; Texas red oak and “Shumard’ oak leaves appearing; Leucophyllum leaves developing; first chocolate flower blossom opened.

April 4 – New Mexico olive (Forestiera neomexicana) buds swelling.

April 5 – ‘Regent’ grape buds swelling.

April 6 – Chinese pistache buds swelling; Mexican evening primrose (Oenothera Berlandieri) blossom open.

April 7 – ‘Flame’ and ‘Catawba’ grape buds swelling.

April 9 – ‘Balaton’ tart cherry flowers open.

April 11 – ‘Aromatnaya’ quince flower open.

April 12 – ‘North Star’ tart cherry flowers open; Star of Bethlehem (Ornithogalum) blooming; Mimosa (Albissia julibrisin) leaves forming.

April 16 – Crape Myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica) leaf buds opening.

April 18 – Fragrant ash (Fraxinus cuspidata) flowers open.  Frost (26F) damaged ‘Lakota’ pecan, ‘Flame’ grape, ‘Bianca’ grape, ‘Regent’ grape – all had new tender shoots.  All tender shoots on the pecan were damaged, maybe it will be able to resprout; only some of the tender shoots on the grapes were damaged, so they should regrow and produce a crop this year.

April 26 – One codling moth in pheromone trap in apple tree; ‘Lakota’ pecan auxiliary buds below freeze killed shoots and dormant buds that had not begun growing are swelling and showing green – the pecan may survive!

Garden Phenology 2017

Feb. 6    – daffodils sprouting in front yard

Feb. 7    – Santa Rosa plum buds swelling, showing white

Feb. 16 – Quince flower buds swelling

–  Black current buds swelling

Feb. 17 – Apricot buds showing pink

Feb. 19 – daffodil flower buds show in center of foliage

Feb. 22 – Black current leaves beginning to expand

March 1 – Santa Rosa plum blossoms beginning to open

March 4 – Lilac blossoms beginning to expand, showing panicle

March 5 – Apricot blooms opening

March 8 – Daffodils under oak tree in front blooming

                – Grape hyacinth next to planter box blooming

                – Concord grape layers in pots show buds swelling, no swelling on other Concords or other grapes

March 9 – Hops coming up, still under mulch

                – onion transplants arrived from Dixondale Farms

March 12 – Sour cherry buds swelling, showing green

                – large apple tree buds swelling, showing green

                – wood hyacinth inflorescence visible deep in foliage

                – plum leaves forming

                – apricot leaves beginning to form

March 13 – red peonies coming up

                – black currant flower buds evident

                – quince flower bud visible at tip of new growths

March 14 – Bartlett pear buds swelling

                – grape buds swelling

March 16 – Black currant flowers opening

                – Oriental pear flowers opening

March 17 – planted onions

March 18 – Flowering ash buds beginning to show green

                – Quince flowers pink, not yet open

                – finished planting onions

March 19 – Lilac first florets open

                – Quince flowers open

March 20 – Philadelphus microphyllus leaves appearing

                – Desert willow leaves appearing

                – Blackberry ‘Chester’ leaves appearing

March 21 – Bartlett pear blossoms opening

March 22 – Apple blossoms opening

                – Chocolate flower open

March 27 – Balaton sour cherry blossom open

March 29 – Star of Bethlehem first flower opened

                – Blue salvia coming up

March 21 – White peony coming up

April 4 – North Star sour cherry blossoms opened

April 5 – hard freeze – 20F; apple blossoms, pear blossoms, some cherry, lilac blossoms turned brown!

April 10 – New Mexico olive (Foresteria neomexicana) transplanted from backyard to side yard a month ago is showing green in the buds.

April 11 – Fragrant ash (Fraxinus cuspidata) flowers turning white

April 12 – blue salvia sprouting (again after being frozen down)

April 18 – Crepe Myrtle buds breaking

April 21 – sprayed spinosad – apples, pears, currants

April 26 – Joy died

May 1 – sprayed spinosad – apples, pears, currants


How to tell if seed are good

I often have seed left from previous years and wonder if they are viable.  Sometimes my plants will surprise me with seeds, but these seed often are not viable and do not grow.  Testing the ability of these seeds to germinate saves time and space in my garden.  Recently my gerbera daisy made seeds, so I tested them.  I also found some one-year old liatris seeds that I decided to test.

I put the seeds into sealable plastic bags on moistened paper towels, each type in separate bags:

Gerbera seed test

Liatris seed test


After a couple of weeks the liatris seed were sprouting, but there was no sign of growth in the gerbera seeds:

Liatris seedings closeup

I carefully removed the sprouted liatris seedlings from the moist paper towel and placed them into pots of potting soil:

Liatris seedlings and forceps ready for planting

Liatris seedling planted in potting soil

They are growing well and I will transplant them to the garden later in the spring, or give some to friends.

Southwest GardenSmith!

Welcome to Southwest GardenSmith.

The Southwestern U.S. is beautiful, full of history, and a challenging place to garden.  However, some things are best grown here; others are challenging, but worth growing.

New Mexico sunset

From the beautiful sunsets, to the beautiful flowers and hazardous spines of the cacti, to the delicious, fiery chile peppers this is a wonderful place to live.  To learn more about me visit my Welcome Page.