Are you patiently waiting for spring, and all the flowers that come with the season? I’ll show you how easy it is to force flowering branches to bloom early so you can enjoy them indoors.
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Have you heard the term “forcing branches” before? Well let me tell you… if you are a flower girl like me, you’ll be so happy to know that this process allows you to have the color and beauty of spring blooms in your home during the winter months. And we all know that this is the time of year when a little pick-me-up is needed to cure those wintertime blues!
You’re basically cutting branches from trees or shrubs that usually flower in the springtime, and bringing them indoors to flower much more quickly.
Flowering Branches to Force Bloom
- Witch Hazel
- Flowering Quince
- Eastern Redbud
- Flowering Cherry/Plum
- Pussy Willow
When To Force Bloom
After at least 6 weeks of cold weather, the buds on many flowering trees and shrubs have already formed from the previous year. At that point, they’re waiting for a few more weeks of warm weather to break dormancy.
January through early March are great months for force blooming flowering branches. However, you can also bring in the branches just before they’re ready to bloom outdoors, when the buds are already starting to swell.
How to Prune Branches
Pick a day when the outdoor temperature is above freezing when pruning any branches. This will help them transition from outdoors to the inside of your home.
Select branches that aren’t essential to the form of your shrub or tree. I always choose branches that are located in the back of a tree, or an area where it wouldn’t hurt to thin out to prevent overcrowding.
Be sure to use pruners that are both sharp and clean to ensure that your cuts are clean and smooth. Cut stems that are 6-18 inches in length, although it’s really a personal preference. It’s important to prune the branch properly in order not to damage the rest of the tree or shrub you are cutting from, right above a branch or side bud so there is no stub.
Trim off any parts of the branch that isn’t aesthetically pleasing, and any branches that would be touching the water once placed in the vessel. Cut the base of the stem at an angle. and crush the ends of the branch with a hammer to allow the water to absorb quicker. According to The Spruce, there’s another alternative to crushing the ends with a hammer. You can cut another inch off the bottoms of the stems when they’re submerged in water. This second cut, performed underwater where air cannot act as a drying agent, will promote water intake.
How to Force Branches
Place the branches in lukewarm water overnight. The next day, switch them to a vessel or vase, filled with warm water and floral preservative.
SHOP VASES & VESSELS FOR YOUR FLOWERING BRANCHES
Move the vessel of branches into a partially shaded room until the buds start showing color. Then move them to an area with bright indirect light for more quality blooms.
Re-cut and crush the ends of the branch every few days for longer lasting blooms. To prevent bacteria from forming, change the water every few days. It will also help speed up the flowering process if the air is relatively humid. If it’s not, mist the branches every few days to provide some moisture.
Flowering blooms should appear in a few weeks depending on the variety. Forsythias seem to take the last amount of time. Mine bloomed in just over a week.
That’s it! I told you it was easy. And you can experiment with just about any flowering tree or shrub you have in your yard. I’ve never forced lilac blooms, but I’m definitely going to try it, as well as rhododendrons, azaleas and magnolias. I will keep you posted on my progress.
If you have any other information or ideas from personal experience that I haven’t touched on, leave my a comment. I’d love to hear from you.