I felt as though I had to write a post about this wonderful plant. Every year it starts flowering before Christmas and continues to flower for months until Spring is well and truly with us. Usually chaenomeles flowers in the spring, so why does mine start before Christmas, I thought the time had come to do a bit of research.
The flowers of Chaenomeles are usually orange/red but can be white or pink, according to the websites I have looked at, flowering in late winter or early spring. Mine flowers at the beginning of winter, so no help there.
A lot of varieties are 3 ft tall but some grow to 2 metres, mine is 2 metres at least, so this points it to be Chaenomeles speciosa, which also suckers and spreads, which mine has!
It also grows very well in heavy clay soil, I can agree with this as I have never improved the soil by the back door, it is just as the last people left it. Lots of leaves get trapped in there each winter so I suppose it has its own leaf mould mulch.
It is used a lot in Chinese medicine to treat arthritis, I must find out more about this as I have arthritis in most of my joints by now. Who knows, maybe I could use part of the plant as pain relief.
I have read that more flowers are produced if the plant is grown trained to a wall, mine is! Also by pruning to flowering spurs, the plant can often flower earlier!!
I have also read that by wall taining them, the plant can flower throughout the year.
It would seem that unknowingly, I have caused the plant to flower earlier than usual by training it up the wall outside the back door. The framework is in place, but I prune the side shoots back a couple of times a year, simply to make it easier to walk along the path.
I have pruned it the same as you would an apple tree, cutting back to a couple of buds to form flowering spurs. I generally just cut away anything that sticks out from the wall.
It seems that ignorance was bliss when I first started tying it into some wires on the wall and then keeping it pruned tight back so that I had plenty of room for the path.
This is a different shrub which is by the garage. Up until this year it has only flowered in springtime. Last summer though, I felt it was becoming a bit of a tangled mess, so gave it a good prune. This is the result, flowering before New Year. Once again I had unwittingly given the plant a haircut, which has obviously made it flower earlier for the first time. This plant is 30 yrs old, the same as the one by the back door, but only a fraction of the size. I can see that I will have to start training this one as well so that I will have a lovely display in the future.
We are now having freezing temperatures at night time and still pretty cold during the day so I think this will stop more flower buds opening for a while. I just hope all my lovely flowers aren’t turned to brown when I look out this morning, it is still dark at the moment!