Forcing Spring Blooms

Bring on springtime by making buds open indoors.

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Forcing forsythia

Forcing forsythia

Forsythia is among a number of early-spring-blooming shrubs and trees that can be forced to bloom indoors.

Forsythia is among a number of early-spring-blooming shrubs and trees that can be forced to bloom indoors.

That nose print on your window pane says it all. Tired of peering outside at what seems like the longest winter ever?

If you can’t wait for all the living color the season delivers, you may want to take things into your own hands and force it — indoors.

Forcing branches of spring-flowering shrubs and trees to bloom indoors is one of the simplest indoor projects you can do. Plus, it’s always fun to be able to fool Mother Nature.

The easiest plants to force are woody ones that set their buds the previous year: forsythia, Japanese flowering quince, pussy willow, spirea, witch hazel and ornamental cherries, to name a few. All require a dormancy period of six weeks or so of cold temperatures before they begin to bud, typically in February and March.

Once those buds begin to swell, it’s time to start harvesting. All you’ll need are a pair of pruners, a bucket, a tall vase and maybe a little patience.

Follow the steps in this gallery to see how to force blooms indoors:

Force Blooms Indoors

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Forcing Spring Blooms

Give Mother Nature a little nudge and force spring-blooming quince and forsythia branches to bloom indoors.

©2008, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Forcing forsythia

Forsythia is among a number of early-spring blooming shrubs and trees that can be forced to bloom indoors.

Step 1: Make the Cut

Prune branches about 3 feet long, making the cut at an angle.

Step 2: Timing Is Everything

Choose a warm day when temperatures are well above freezing. Look for branches with plump, swollen flower buds. Don’t be confused by leaf buds; flower buds are rounder and larger. Cut branches that are about three feet long, making the cut at an angle to give the branch more surface area for absorbing water. Place the branches in a bucket of water and take indoors.

Step 3: Second Cut

Once indoors, may a fresh second cut, again at an angle to give the branch more surface space for absorbing water.

Step 4: Pound the Stems

Pounding the cut can help loosen the branch's fibers for taking up more water.

Step 5: Revive

Soaking the branches overnight in the bathtub can help hydrate them, as indoor heat tends to dry them out.

Step 6: Arrange and Maintain

Place the cut branches in water in a spot that receives indirect light. Re-cut and change water every couple days.

Make an Inspired Arrangement

Now that you've managed to get your forsythia blooming indoors, try creating a beautiful Asian-inspired arrangement with your blooms.

Photo By: Image courtesy of FlowerSchool New York

Force Witch Hazel

The colorful, spider-like blooms of witch hazel can also be forced to bloom indoors.

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Force Ornamental Cherry

The vivid pink blooms of ornamental cherry can make for a spectacular spring show indoors.

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Pussywillows

Spring budding pussywillows are also easily forced to bloom indoors.

Buds should begin to open in one to four weeks, depending on the type of plant. The closer you cut to the plant’s normal flowering time outdoors, the quicker the branches will bloom. As blooms occur, move the branches to an area that receives bright sunlight and enjoy.

Now it’s safe to clean your window panes of all those nose prints!