Icon - Arrow LeftAn icon we use to indicate a rightwards action. Icon - Arrow RightAn icon we use to indicate a leftwards action. Icon - External LinkAn icon we use to indicate a button link is external. Icon - MessageThe icon we use to represent an email action. Icon - Down ChevronUsed to indicate a dropdown. Icon - CloseUsed to indicate a close action. Icon - Dropdown ArrowUsed to indicate a dropdown. Icon - Location PinUsed to showcase a location on a map. Icon - Zoom OutUsed to indicate a zoom out action on a map. Icon - Zoom InUsed to indicate a zoom in action on a map. Icon - SearchUsed to indicate a search action. Icon - EmailUsed to indicate an emai action. Icon - FacebookFacebooks brand mark for use in social sharing icons. flipboard Icon - InstagramInstagrams brand mark for use in social sharing icons. Icon - PinterestPinterests brand mark for use in social sharing icons. Icon - TwitterTwitters brand mark for use in social sharing icons. Icon - Check MarkA check mark for checkbox buttons.
You are reading

Spring Preview: How to Force Flowering Branches to Bloom Indoors

Search

Spring Preview: How to Force Flowering Branches to Bloom Indoors

March 3, 2023

You’re getting impatient for spring to arrive. You’ve had enough of winter. Time to move on! Time for spring to arrive.

Mother Nature, however, is on her own schedule. It varies from year to year and she won’t tell you if she decides to change things up with a late season cold snap. Because she can and she will. Don’t mess with Mother Nature. But you can go behind her back—you can jump-start spring by forcing flowering branches to bloom indoors.

Here’s how.

Forcing Branches Indoors

Above: Here’s what a cut cherry blossom branch looks like ten days after it was first brought indoors. Photograph by Justine Hand for Gardenista, from Test Drive: Which Cut Flowers Last Longest?

Cut flowering branches are long-lasting statement makers, suitable for any room of the house. A huge spray of apple blossoms in a large vase can be a focal point on your dining table, and a single magnolia bloom in a hand-me down porcelain cup and saucer on the kitchen counter can transport you back to your childhood.

Above: White cherry blossoms purchased from a flower shop and brought home for a DIY arrangement. Photograph by Erin Boyle, from DIY: The Magical Powers of White Cherry Blossoms.

To force branches indoors, make sure your pruning clippers are clean and sharp. Remember, you are not just picking a few branches for forcing, you are pruning the tree or shrub. If you only want a few branches, take them from inconspicuous areas and stay away from the larger main branches.

Above: If you’re using a bowl-shaped vessel for your flowering branches (pictured are sweet almond branches), insert floral netting, chicken wire, or even a plastic berry box turned upside down for stability. Photograph by Leslie Santarina for Gardenista, from Flower Arrangements 101: A Crash Course for Easy and Elegant Florals.

Once inside, place them in a clean vase filled with fresh water. Try not to place any blooms below the water level if possible and keep the vase out of direct sunlight and away from heat sources. Slicing or scoring the base of the branches will help the branches to take up more water and make them last longer. Change the water every few days.

Sunny forsythia. Photograph by The_Moog via Flickr.
Above: Sunny forsythia. Photograph by The_Moog via Flickr.

One of the easiest flowers to force is forsythia. It’s as easy as cutting a few branches off the bush, bringing them inside and placing them in water. That’s it. Within a week, you’ll have happy sunny yellow flowers perking up your kitchen table.

If you’re lucky enough to have a pussy willow, you can do the same and have those furry little pussy toes and their delicate tiny yellow flowers in about two weeks.

Above: Floral designer Louesa Roebuck placed magnolias in a vase by Berkeley potter Jared Nelson. Photograph by Jay Carroll of One Trip Pass, from DIY: Ikebana Arrangement with Magnolias.

Magnolias take a bit longer, four weeks on average. The fleshy flowers need to be treated with care, or they will bruise and discolor very easily.

Above: For a large-scale floral arrangement, you can’t go wrong with quince branches. Photograph and styling by Chelsea Fuss, from Rethinking Quince: Styling a Classic Spring Blossom.

Trees in the rose family—cherry, apple, crabapple, and quince—all can be forced inside and will take about four weeks to bloom. Stay away from the ornamental pears though, some of the varieties can have a very bad rotting fish like smell.

Lilacs and dogwood brought in from the backyard. Photograph courtesy of Table on Ten, from A Room with a View in Upstate NY.
Above: Lilacs and dogwood brought in from the backyard. Photograph courtesy of Table on Ten, from A Room with a View in Upstate NY.

You can try other flowering trees, but some are more difficult than others such as lilacs. Lilacs tend to be more than a little picky and may wilt quickly. If you have a favorite tree or shrub that flowers, try one branch and see what happens.

And when the blooms are spent, don’t throw them in the trash! Check the branches for roots. One of the unmentioned benefits of forcing is propagation. You may have new baby plants. You can transfer them to a pot with potting soil and treat them as transplants.

See also:

(Visited 1,590 times, 1 visits today)
You need to login or register to view and manage your bookmarks.

Have a Question or Comment About This Post?

Join the conversation

v5.0