2010 Forcing Flowering Shrubs


As I drive through town and walk around my back yard, I notice that deciduous shrubs and trees are absent of leaves and flowers. Well, what do I expect? It’s January in Delaware. Us gardeners need to see green and experience flowers growing and blooming to help us get through cold winters. One way to do this is to cut a few branches from spring blooming shrubs and bring them indoors to “force” them into blooming.

Forcing flowering shrubs to bloom indoors is easy. The following rules will make it easier:

The branches will bloom easier and quicker if you cut and bring them indoors closer to the time of normal flowering.

Select branches with nice, fat buds.

When cutting the branches, select ones that won’t misshapen or make your shrub look odd.

Branches should be eight to 24 inches long as this will add variety to your arrangement.

Once indoors, cut the end of the branch again, but this time on a slant. If the stem is woody, cut a few slits in the stem. Submerge the entire branch into water for a couple of hours.

The new cuts will make it easier for the stem to absorb the water.

When arranging the branches in the vase, put the newly cut ones in warm water to about one-third of the stem’s length.

Change the water daily. If you have a commercial flower preservative, you may want to add this to the water.

For a continuous display of flowers, you may want to cut more branches every four or five days.

Some shrubs and trees that are easy to force are pussy willow, dogwood, forsythia, mock orange, lilac, redbud, cherry and apple, to name a few.

So, if your landscape or neighborhood is looking bleak, why not cut a few branches from your favorite shrub and bring them indoors. Force them into blooming to brighten your home until spring finally arrives.