Guest Author - Connie Krochmal
If you can’t wait for spring, start forcing branches for early blossoms. Stems of trees and shrubs are easy to force into bloom. By bringing these indoors, you can have blooms weeks ahead of time.
The stems should be cut at least a foot in length. Bring them indoors and place them in a bucket of warm water. Some floral designers report that they submerge the stems in water for eight to ten hours, typically in a bathtub.
Usually, the stems are cut at a 45-degree angle. If any of the stems are really thick, make a slit in the end. This helps the stems to take in more water and break dormancy.
The stems should be placed in a pail or container of water and set in a sunny well-lit room. The sun encourages the blooms to open and develop good color. Change the water often. It also helps to mist the stems on a regular basis. Some stems come into bloom more quickly. While some might only need a week of forcing, others require six weeks or more. Cherry blossoms can take up
to a month.
The proper time for cutting depends on the normal bloom time.
The azaleas and rhododendrons can be cut in late February or early March. They can require as much as six weeks of forcing.
Forsythia is usually cut in mid to late January. These only need a couple weeks of forcing.
Cherry, apples, and plums are usually ready for cutting in February. These need two weeks to a month of forcing.
Redbuds only need two to three weeks of forcing, while the magnolias might take five weeks. Both of these can be cut in March.
Flowering quince can also be cut in February. Lilacs require as long as two months to force. The spring blooming viburnums can also be forced.
Honeysuckles can be cut as early as February 1st. They only need two weeks or so of forcing.
Clove currant stems can be harvested in May. These will need forcing for about 2½ weeks.
Many other kinds of woody stems can be forced in mid-March. These include all the following. Beautybush only needs about a month of forcing. The same is true for leucothoe. Andromeda requires about one to two weeks forcing time. The spring blooming spireas are good choices for forcing. About 1½ to two weeks is required to force them.
The Japanese snowbell is a tree with fragrant blossoms. These require about a month or more to force them into bloom.