Thursday, March 3, 2016

Forcing Shrub or Tree Branches to Bloom Indoors by Bonny Griffith

Photo kids gardening.org
This time of year can be difficult for Colorado gardeners.  The weather can be absolutely beautiful, and we want to go outside and garden, but we know it’s much too early to remove our rose collars or plant annuals!  So here’s an activity for midwinter days when you want to hurry spring—cut flowering branches and bring them inside to flower.
Just about any flowering shrub or tree can be forced to flower early.  Here is a list of some of the most commonly available in Colorado gardens:
  • Apple and Crabapple (Malus spp)
  • Cherry and Plum (Prunus spp)
  • Dogwood (Cornus florida)
  • Forsythia (Forsythis spp)
  • Honeysuckle (Lonicera spp)
  • Lilac (Syringa spp)
  • Pussy willow (Salix caprea)
  • Quince (Chaenomeles spp)
  • Redbud (Cercis Canadensis)
  • Spirea (Spiraea spp)
  • Viburnum (Viburnum spp)
Cut one to two-foot long branches or twigs from the shrub or tree, choosing pieces with as many plump buds as you can find.  Keep in mind what the shrub will look like later in the year—you don’t want to damage its beauty when it is leafed out.  
Use a sharp pruning tool to make the cuts.  After you’ve brought your branches inside, carefully split the cut ends about an inch with a sharp knife.  Then place them in a vase half-filled with warm water.  Set the vase in a warm, sunny location and be sure and change the water every few days. 

You will be rewarded with blooms in one or more weeks.  Voila!  Enjoy your early spring!
Here's an article from Purdue University Extension for more information: https://hort.purdue.edu/ext/HO-23.pdf