IMG_7002Gathering branches to force blooms inside

This time of year I get so excited about the coming Spring. All those buds are swelling on the branches but sometimes I just can’t wait another month so I bring in some bouquets from the garden to I can speed up the process to Spring inside my home. Flowering trees and shrubs set their blooms in the previous summer and fall, once they have gone through sufficient temperatures below 40 you can cut branches and force them to bloom early. What a joy it is to watch them bloom inside.

How to:
Gather healthy branches from areas of the plant that need to be thinned anyway. Look for small buds or spurs along the length of the branch. Always use good pruning methods so as not to damage the mother plant. Cut at an angle about 1/4 inch above divergent branching with a clean sharp tool.

Once inside remove any buds that would be under the water line, recut your previous cut and place the branches into a vase with at least a few inches of cool water. Place in a cooler or dimly lit spot as to much heat or light will simply dry out the branch before it has time to bloom. I sometimes place them in the basement for a week or so checking daily to look for the color to appear.

A tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice will help keep the water clear and a tablespoon of sugar will help feed the blooms.

If you are lucky you might even get your branches to root which means you will have a bunch of new baby plants to put out once the frosts pass in May.

Some of my favorites are the fruit trees – apple, pear, plum, peach and cherry.
Tiny bloomers like forsythia, quince, current, deutzia and mock orange are all very simple to force.
Lilac and Magnolia will last much longer if picked before the buds open.
Non traditional bloomers like willow,  whitchhazel, maples and redbud can also be gorgeous with their odd little Spring blooms.