In the dead of winter, when all hope has faded for a bud to appear, there’s a way to emerge springtime earlier than usual. It doesn’t involve casting a spell on Mother Nature. On the contrary, she will work with you on this! Forcing blooming branches is a simple way to bring spring beauty indoors before the snow disappears and the icicles melt.
Head outside and collect ornamental branches of trees and shrubs for this project. Mother Nature has set things in motion the previous season by setting flower buds. The winter months keep them in dormancy awaiting springs arrival. By February, most plants have gone through the required time to show off their vibrancy when forced. The longer the chilling requirements the more saturation of bloom will be displayed. Cutting branches when the temperatures are above freezing helps the branch transition better to inside temperatures.
1. Select a hand pruner (bypass is better than anvil) that has been cleaned, disinfected (2 parts bleach to 1 part water) and sharpened.
2. Bring along a bucket of lukewarm water to immediately house the branches after cutting.
3. Select a branch that is smaller in growth diameter, with full flower buds that are circular in shape.
4. Cut branches ¼ inch above a bud and long enough to display various sizes for your arrangement.
5. Be cautious of the branches you’re removing. Disperse the cuts over the whole shrub and not in one spot. It’s healthier for your shrub and won’t interfere with spring bloom.
6. Cut on the diagonal exposing as much tissue as possible for the absorption of water through the xylem of the branch.
7. Choose a container, and then fill with warm water. Recut each branch under warm water and display in selected vase.
8. Keep the water at a three-inch depth on the stem. Change the water entirely every two or three days, adding floral preservative to prevent bacteria growth and mist branches.
9. Place the vase of forced blooming branches in a cool (60-65°F) location away from direct sunlight.
Within two to four weeks, you will be thrilled to see spring has arrived early to awaken your senses with fabulous blooms.
Some of our favorites forced blooming branches to select include Cornelian cherry (Cornus mas) and Forsythias (Forsythia spp. and cvs) both displaying clusters of yellow petals. Witch hazels (Hamamelis spp. and cvs.) boast fragrant displays of yellow, orange or dark red flower clusters. Flowering dogwoods (Cornus florida) bloom in white and pink, while redbud trees (Cercis canadensis) exhibit shades of pink, purple, and white. Blue to purple blooms show off on lilacs (Syringa vulgaris).
Fuzzy, grey catkins of pussy willow (Salix discolor) will delight the gardener and flowering quince branches (Chaenomeles speciosa) are lush with various shades of pink
to orange.These trees and shrubs might work well in your garden so you can enjoy throughout the year. Contact Joshua to talk about your garden blooms!
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