Forcing branches indoors for winter color.
Flowering Shrubs and trees are beautiful to look at when they bloom in the spring, but who wants to wait. Gardeners are looking for any excuse to get outside, why not help mother nature along by bringing the outdoors in and forcing a few cut branches indoors.
Here are some tips on forcing branches indoors.
Choose branches that are young and have many swollen buds along the stem. Make sure you choose wisely, cut branches that are crossed or protruding outward detracting from the natural habit of the plant. With a sharp pair of pruners cut branch a 1/4” above the bud. Make sure to cut branches 18” or longer and in multiples of 3’s. This makes arranging in a vase easier. Recut stems on an angle and place in container with warm water. To preserve freshness of the water add 2 tablespoon of lemon juice, 1 tablespoon of sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of chlorine bleach and mix in quart of water. If you do not have fresh lemon juice on hand you can substitute white vinegar. Place container in medium to low, indirect light and keep cool, between 60-65 degrees. Keep water levels consistent. Once buds begin to crack, place container in bright, indirect light. Always keep an eye on the water level and keep branches cool. This will help prolong the life of the blooms.
Here are a few of the most common flowering shrubs that are easy to force right now,
Shrubs No. of Weeks
Forsythia x intermedia, Forsythia 2
Chaenomeles sp. Flowering Quince 4
Red or orange flowers, long lasting
Lindera benzoin, Spice bush 2
Fragrant light pink flowers
Hammamalis vernalis, Witchhazel 2
Yellow colored strap-like petals
Spirea prunifolia, Bridal Wreath Spirea 2
Small, white flowers in spray
Double flowers last longer than singles.
Salix sp. Pussy Willow 2
Fury white buds
Malus sp. Crabapple 4
Pink or white fragrant flowers
Pyrus sp. Flowering pear 4
Clusters of white fragrant flowers
Flowering shrubs and trees best cut and forced
Lilac Syringa sp. Lilac 4
Fragrant purple or white flowers
Rhododendron sp. Rhododendron 4
Large blooms is a wide range of colors
Cornus florida, Flowering Dogwood 5
Pink and white flowers
Prunus sp. Cherry 3
Pink and white flowers
Magnolia sp. 5
Pink, white and cream colored flowers
Cercis canadensis, Eastern Redbud 2
Purplish, pink flowers