Forcing Blooms on Tree Branches for Early Indoor Spring Color
The dark and rainy Portland winters have us yearning for the riotous colors of spring blooms by late winter. You don’t need to wait until March or April. Forcing blooms on cut tree branches is an easy way to enjoy early spring color indoors. Simply select the right branches, keep them in fresh water, and watch your flowers bloom.
To force blooms from dormant flowering branches, select branches of flowering trees or shrubs from mid-January through February. Waiting to harvest branches until mid-January ensures that the plants will have their cold requirement met so that they will break out of dormancy and blooming will be possible. Select small branches that will not negatively affect the overall shape of the plant. Cut the selected branches at an angle, as seen above.
The cut branches should include multiple flower buds, which are usually on the younger growth. Buds are where new growth will occur. Woody plant buds are the visibly swollen growth covered in leathery scales. Branches contain both flower and leaf buds. The flower buds usually look more round and swollen than the pointy leaf buds. You can see that the flower buds along the quince branch above are rounder than the pointed leaf buds closer to the tip.
Place In Water
Place the branches in a container of water immediately and place the container in a cool, bright location out of direct sunlight until blooms appear. Do not allow the branches to dry out and replace the water as it becomes murky every few days.
Watch Your Flowers Bloom
As the flower buds begin to open, display them indoors out of direct sunlight. The time required for flowering varies depending on a variety of factors including the species and when the branches are cut. The closer to their regular outdoor bloom time that branches are brought indoors, the less time you will have to wait for the branches to bloom indoors. Some branches, like forsythia and quince (seen above), can bloom within a week, whereas cherries can take up to four weeks. You can experiment with any flowering tree you have in your yard but the branches of forsythia, quince and redbud are known to work well. Cutting branches weekly or every other week will ensure that you can enjoy cheery, colorful blooms indoors throughout the dark late winter and early spring.