Forcing Flowering Branches

In the drab, grey days of February and early March, indoor color is welcome.  Most Nebraskans get a sort of “cabin fever” after being forced indoors for several months.  Fight back with some blooming branches.

Simply prune off several branches from spring flowering trees and shrubs and plunk them in a large vase of water.  In 2-3 weeks, gorgeous flowers will appear on the stems.  This is possible because the buds which produce flowers in spring are formed in the fall, and simply waiting on April and May sunshine and warm temperatures to force them into bloom.

Many species of trees and shrubs will perform indoors for you.  The critical issue is when they normally bloom outdoors.  If you are used to seeing them bloom in April and May, then it probably is a good choice.  If the branch usually blooms in June, July or August, then the floral buds on that plant are formed in spring and will not be present in late winter.

flower quince bloom
Flowering Quince blooms

Best results will be realized with small, tight buds such as forsythia, crabapple, pussy willow, redbud, cotoneaster, quince and dogwood.  The larger flowering plants – lilac, viburnum and magnolia may not provide the spectacular bloom that smaller ones will.

John Fech
Horticulture Extension Educator at Nebraska Extension
John Fech is a horticulturist with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and certified arborist with the International Society of Arboriculture. The author of 2 books and over 200 popular and trade journal articles, he focuses his time on teaching effective landscape maintenance techniques, water conservation, diagnosing turf and ornamental problems and encouraging effective bilingual communication in the green industry. He works extensively with the media to extend the message of landscape sustainability, making over 100 television and radio appearances each year.
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One Comment Add yours

  1. Kathy Meyer says:

    Great information, thanks!

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