February and March are excellent months to try forcing branches to bloom inside your home. Why? Well, because by this time, outdoor temperatures have probably risen just above freezing. We all have a major case of spring fever, but all of our trees and shrubs are not yet blossoming. So with a little bit of gentle prompting, we can “force” them to bloom indoors.
How to Properly Force Branches
|1. Cut the Branches
When temperatures have risen above freezing, carefully cut some branches off of a tree or shrub in your yard. Select a branch with several plump buds. Cut a couple extra branches, since not all of them will successfully bloom indoors. Make sure to use a sharp blade when cutting branches, and make a smooth, clean cut so as not to disfigure your tree. The Spear & Jackson Bypass Pruners are an excellent tool for this task.
|2. Bring the Branches Indoors
Once you have brought the cut branches indoors, use your Hori Hori Garden Knife to carefully create a slit in the cut end of your branches. The slit should be between one and four inches long on each branch. This is so that your branches may absorb the water in which you are going to place them.
|3. Trim the Branches
Fill your sink or a large container with warm water. Using either your pruners or your garden knife, cut a one-inch segment off of the bottom of each of your branches. This will help to prevent air from entering the stem through the cut end, which would then block water intake. Another tool that is great for this trimming task is the Gardener’s Multi-Tool.
|4. Place Branches in a Vase
Place your branches in a tall pitcher or vase filled with warm water. Depending on the size of your branches, you may wish to tie them into a small bundle with a piece of twine. You may also wish to add a floral preserve, or just a teaspoon of bleach to the water to help control bacteria. We recommend the beautifully sleek and versatile Ivy Pitcher and Vase for your branches. Remove any buds that will be underneath the water level.
5. Place the Vase in a Warm Room
Place your vase(s) of branches in a warm room that is maintained between 60 and 70 degrees F. Do not place them in direct sunlight. Make sure you check the water every day to make sure it is clear. You will need to replace it with fresh, clean water every 2-3 days. Your branches may begin to bloom within one week, or they may take as long as 8 weeks, (depending on how close they were to their natural bloom time when you cut them.)
Great Plant Picks for Forcing Indoor Blooms
According to Susan Grupp, a Horticulture Professor for the University of Illinois Extension in DuPage County, the following plants will respond well to forcing. You can cut these branches from your own yard, or purchase branches from your local florist:
- Japanese or Flowering Quince
- Flowering Dogwood
- Vernal Witch Hazel
- Saucer Magnolia
- Star Magnolia
- Apple and Crabapple
- Flowering Almond, Cherry, and Plum
- European Pussy Willow
We will be “growing” our Grow Category this February, so check back soon for new products! Or why not make it easier on yourself? You can receive updates on new products, special promotions, earn aHa! Customer Rewards, and unique content you won’t find on the blog, by subscribing to our new aHa! Modern Living E-letter. Take a peek at our December issue.