Flirting with Spring

In January and February, winter flirts with spring on occasional warm days. Quince, Forsythia, and Pussy Willow begin to emerge from dormancy. With this slight swelling of buds, it is time to cut a few branches to bring spring indoors!

To force branches, select plants like those listed below that have set their buds in the fall or early winter. Look for branches with plump flower buds, and cut branches that you would have normally pruned in order to preserve the shape and health of the plant.

Next, scrape about 2 inches of the bark from the pruned end of the branch and make a 3 to 5 inch cut (lengthwise from the pruned end) to allow water to be absorbed. You can also split the end by carefully hammering it, but avoid crushing. Fill a tall container or vase with room-temperature water and florist preserver, then place the cut branches in it. Place in a dimly lit room for 2 to 3 days, then move into a brighter area (but no direct sunlight). Change the water and cut 1 inch off the bottom of the stem each week. Mist the branches daily. Although they may take up to 3 weeks to bloom, the delightful bursts of color will be a celebrated reward for your time and efforts.

FLOWERING BRANCHES FOR FORCING

Early Blooms:
Witch Hazel
Cornelian Cherry
Forsythia
Pussy Willow
Azalea
Flowering Quince

For Later Blooms:
Magnolia
Apple
Crab Apple
Flowering Dogwood
Hawthorn
Red Bud
Mockorange

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