Name bush with red flowers

Question: name bush with red flowers

There is a beautiful flowering bush of small red flowers in a square in Milan - I saw on the internet that the flower is called alleluia, but what is its real name? Is it a shrub that I could grow on a balcony facing north, mostly in the shade?

Answer: name bush with red flowers

Dear Silvia,
the shrub that you saw in the square in Milan is a chaenomeles japonica, the botanical name is strange and in fact the plant in Italian is called in various ways, including alleluia, but more often flowery quince, Japanese peach, Japanese quince. It is a rosacea (hence the name quince of Japan) of Asian origin, present for centuries in European gardens; in the nursery, in fact, you will find many hybrids, with flowers of various colors, from the pure white to the bright rose, passing through all the shades of pink. The particularity of this shrub, and its success in gardens, derives from the fact that the flowers bloom towards the end of winter, before the leaves begin to be seen: therefore they have thin and dark stems, covered only by small flowers, which seem to sometimes almost fake, due to the contrast they create with bare vegetation. Unfortunately, in recent years the chaenomeles have been somewhat set aside, and they are not seen as often in gardens as they were a few decades ago; they are considered "grandmother's flowers", as is the case with kerrie and forsythias, which have been supplanted by more "fashionable" shrubs, such as the plants originating in Australia. But surely in a good nursery you can find one without difficulty, and in fact for those who want a low maintenance garden or terrace they are definitely a good choice, as they do not require special care, they bear frost and summer heat very well and even short periods of drought; not for nothing they are still used in road beds, those where gardeners arrive only once a year. That said, I have a little comforting news to give you: the most interesting particularity of these shrubs are the flowers, and to bloom the chaenomeles need direct sun, for at least a few hours a day. So, you can only grow them on your terrace if you can find an area where it can receive direct sunlight, or you will get a completely flower-free shrub, which over the years will also become sad and dull; however, consider that it is not an expensive shrub, and therefore you can think of buying one to see if it blooms with the little brightness on your terrace. Chaenomeles, like all Rosaceae, also produce fruits; these are small apples, very similar in appearance to apples, and in flavor and texture to quinces; they are edible, but only after being cooked, and therefore they are usually used as a thickener for jams of other fruit. It is not easy to see these shrubs with fruits, because immediately after flowering they are usually pruned, to contain their exuberance and their predisposition to a disordered development, and therefore the great part of future fruits is also removed in this way.