By late winter, gardeners are feeling antsy. We want to see something spring back to life in our landscape after a long, dormant winter, and waiting for mother nature to run her course is difficult. Speed up the spring blooming process by forcing branches from ornamental and fruiting shrubs and trees into early indoor color with these tips.
Use sharp pruning shears to cut pencil-thick branches from your favorite spring blooming shrubs and trees. The cut branches should be between 12-24 inches for best results. I make this my spring pruning time so I can shape up my trees and shrubs and gather branches for indoor color at the same time. Forsythia, crabapple, wild plum, serviceberry, redbud, tulip tree and any fruit tree or rhododendron are good choices to use for forced spring blooming.
Bucket of Water
Get the cut ends of the branches in a bucket of water as soon as possible. Place bucket in a shower and allow tepid water to shower down on the branches for a few minutes. This will warm the branches and trick them into thinking they are feeling a spring rain shower, so the bloom buds will begin to swell.
Drip Dry and Cover
Leave the bucket of branches in the shower until the water has stopped dripping off the branches, but they’re still wet. Cover the branches and bucket with a large plastic trash bag, then move the bucket to cool location that receives light, either via the sun or indoor lighting. The plastic bag will hold in the moisture and raise the humidity level so they branches will begin to show signs of life. Check the branches every three days, changing the water at that time too. Depending on the tree and/or shrub varieties chosen, the branches will take anywhere from three days to three weeks to bud.
When the buds are just about to pop open, remove the branches from the bucket and place in a display container filled with water. Trim the branch bottom if needed to fit the container properly. Place container out of direct sunlight, away from exterior doors and heat sources. Change water daily to keep the forced spring blooming branches looking their best.