Forcing Flowering Branches


Forcing Flowering Branches

Winter. It’s been cold and dry, and today it’s cold and rainy. But a week ago I cut some branches from the forsythia across the street (from a warehouse site) to force into blooming. And today I have spring blooms in the living room. According to,  azalea, beautybush, crab apple, flowering quince, forsythia, magnolia, pussy willow, redbud, rhododendron (I wouldn’t try this one), serviceberry, spirea, witch hazel, lilac, honeysuckle and fruit trees such as cherries, pears and apples are forceable. My lilac is probably about due for a prune, so maybe I’ll try forcing lilac next.

The forsythia and pussy willow are the easiest to force. Simple cut the branches, making sure each has an abundance of flower buds.

Not an abundance of buds
Not an abundance of buds
An abundance of buds.
An abundance of buds.

Forcing Flowering Branches:

These are still living cells, and still need water to continue to grow. So give your budding branches as much water as possible by slicing upward through the lowest 1″ of the stem. You could crush the stem with a hammer or some other blunt instrument, but I find the cut is simpler and just as effective.

Some of the above flowering branches will need a period of acclimatization before they’ll perform for you, so a cool dim spot for a few days is recommended. Having only tried to force Forsythia,which doesn’t need any special treatment, I don’t know which of the list above need the transition period. I’ll let you know about Lilac after I’ve tried.

Pretty soon you’ll have spring flowers long before you’re seeing them outside. Enjoy your early spring!

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