Forcing Spring Blooms
Bring on springtime by making buds open 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:
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.
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!