My forsythia are blooming...

clumsygrdnerJanuary 23, 2009


Since a lot of us Wintersow to help satisfy our spring fever, I'll share a way to help further dispel the doldrums: Forcing branches!

Unlike bulb forcing, forcing the branches of flowering trees and shrubs is relatively quick and easy.

1) On a day that's above freezing, find your favorite spring flowering shrub and pluck off some branches. Be sure to cut them at a 45 degree angle. Pick ones that are full of flower buds, which are fatter than leaf buds. Find some that are at least a foot and a half long (You can cut them shorter if need be. I like them tall.) Pick a dozen or more because fewer than that tends to make a puny display.

2) Bring them home and submerge them completely warm (100 degrees) water for about 12-24 hours. I cut mine in the morning and let them soak overnight in the bathtub.

3) Cut the ends with your pruners and place them in a large vase or bucket. Cover them with a plastic garbage bag to keep up the humidity. Place them in a cool (65 degrees max) area away from direct sun until the buds begin to fatten and break. Then, cut them again, arrange them as desired. Make sure that there are no submerged twigs.

4) Every other day, cut the branches a little to keep the water flowing into them. Add some bleach and lemon-lime soda to keep bacteria away or some floral preservative. The display last 10 to 14 days!

If you cut them every two weeks until spring, you'll never lack flowers! Plus, if you make pruning cuts you can also improve the structure of the tree as a bonus.

Forsythia are the easiest to force so try them first if you need encouragement. Here are a list of other shrubs and trees to try.









Magnolia (Tulip Tree)


Pussy willow



Service Berry



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Another easy one is Sand Cherry. I always cut a few twigs and bring them in.

close up shot

    Bookmark   February 1, 2009 at 8:52PM
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Oh how pretty! I think I might try crab apple next.

The ice storm felled a lot of bradford pears as usual, and I've been capitalizing on the loss. I've never forced those before mostly because I fear the smell. But I decided to try them out just cause they were lying around. They take the longest to force I've found. It takes about 10 days for the buds to swell, but I cut them just in time as my forsythia blossoms are fading.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2009 at 8:57AM
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mnwsgal 4 MN(4)

I have apple, lilac and pussy willows that I force inside. Have also used them in my early spring pots.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2009 at 12:59PM
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