Forcing Branches

Published July 20, 2012

A large vase filled with blooming cherry blossoms is one way to chase away the winter blues. Redbuds, witch hazel and forsythia are just three examples of favorites from the garden that can be made to bloom early inside. The trick is to bring them inside early and be patient. It can take one to ten weeks for the blossoms to open.

When the branches are full of buds then they can be cut and brought indoors. Make sure you water them well and then they will be tricked into thinking that spring has arrived and will bloom ahead of schedule.

This process is referred to as “forcing branches” and can produce spectacular results.

It’s best to cut a few more branches than you need because some will not open properly over time. Be sure to use sharp pruning shears when you cut and cut the stem across horizontally.

Once you bring them inside, carefully spit the stems vertically (up to 4 ” long) with the pruning shears or smash the end with a hammer for very thick stems. Place the cut stems into warm water immediately. Remove any buds that are immersed in the water.

Place the container in a warm room (68 deg) and be sure to replace the water in the vase at least every 2-3 days.

Here are some examples of other spring blooms that you may try from your garden:

  • Honeysuckle
  • Star Magnolia
  • Lilac
  • Viburnum
  • Hawthorn
  • Flowering Dogwood

Results will vary depending on the bloom chosen.