I walked through the yard and woods today and collected branches from flowering shrubs and trees for the purpose of forcing them to bloom early indoors. I ended up with a large stack of saucer magnolia, redbud, flowering dogwood, and forsythia branches. Most likely, the forsythia will be the first to bloom. The other branches will follow over the next several weeks. The closer the plant is to blooming when you cut it, the earlier it will bloom. Makes sense.
Forcing branches to bloom indoors is a very simple, rewarding experience. All you need is a pruning shears, branches from flowering shrubs and trees, and a vase. One to eight weeks later you will have a gorgeous bouquet of blooming twigs.
This is how you do it:
1. Collect branches on a day when the temperature is above freezing and after the tree or shrub is out of dormancy. Depending on where you live, this could be as early as January or as late as March. You’ll know the plant is ready if it has swelling buds.
2. Using a pruning shears, cut bud-filled branches at lengths of 12-24 inches.
3. Cut off any lower twigs that will be below the water line after placed in a vase.
4. Fill a vase with 4-6 inches of very warm water.
5. Make a fresh, new cut at the ends of the branches. Cut at an angle to allow for the best water absorption. Some people like to smash the ends with a hammer or make slits at the bottom of the stem.
6. Place the branches in the warm water and arrange as desired.
7. To prevent bacteria, add 1/2 teaspoon of bleach or a flower preservative. You should also change the water every few days.
8. Place the vase of branches in a spot that is 60 to 70 degrees and away from direct sunlight.
9. You will have flowering branches in one to eight weeks!
The following is a list of common flowering shrubs and trees you can force to bloom indoors:
• Witch Hazel
• Saucer Magnolia
• Flowering fruit trees
• Pussy Willow