Winter Flowers

Guest post by Beate Schwirtlich

It costs nothing to bring the branches of flowering trees indoors for forcing. A mild day late in the winter or early in the spring is a good time to prune apple and other flowering trees anyway and collecting a few branches won’t damage the tree or shrub. So you might as well enjoy the branches before hauling them to the compost.

The pussy willow (salix discolor) is the poster child of blooming branches. Its catkins or ‘fuzzies’ are actually flowers hanging from the branches. But there are a whole bunch of other trees whose branches can be forced to bloom indoors–many much more brightly than the popular willow. It’s as easy as cutting the right branches, bringing them home, and sitting them in water. Forced branches will bloom two to four weeks after cutting.

Follow These Easy Instructions for Forcing

  1. Collect branches on a mild day.
  2. Look for branches with lots of buds.
  3. Cut stems of medium thickness.
  4. Make a diagonal cut at base of stem.
  5. Remove any branches or buds from the bottom part of the stem.
  6. Recut the stems and change the water every few days.

Try Forcing Branches from These Plants

  • apple
  • almond
  • spice bush
  • wisteria
  • forsythia
  • cherry
  • plum
  • hawthorn
  • flowering quince
  • witch hazel
  • mock orange
  • pussy willow
  • cherry
  • lilac
  • horse chestnuts

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