Wednesday’s Flowers – Forcing Branches Indoors

March 23, 2011

Spring is a fantastic time to have fun with flowers.  Forcing bulbs and branches is a great way to bring the fresh new season indoors and immerse ourselves in it.  It is especially nice in colder climates where the weather is unpredictable; we woke up to 15 cm of snow this morning for example.  So on snowy, cold Spring days it is nice to see blooms and colour.

In order to force branches indoors you will need to take a minute and remember where you seen beautifully flowering deciduous shrubs and trees last Spring.  Remember that gorgeous Magnolia tree last April?  Go outside and find it.  It will not be in bloom just yet if you are in Canada or Northern USA, but it should be a tree covered with large, fuzzy buds just waiting to burst open.  Once you have identified the plant, snip a few branches off and take them inside.  Place the freshly cut stems in a large decorative vase of water and within a couple of weeks those buds will open, giving you gorgeous Spring flowers.  By forcing the branches inside you will get to enjoy them before they bloom outdoors, giving yourself double the blooming pleasure.

Please note that there is a little bit of maintenance.  The stems will be in water for weeks and bacteria will form so it is essential to give the stems a fresh cut weekly along with a complete water change.  The more you can do this the better.  You can add flower food to the water and a bit of bleach (a teaspoon will do) to help keep the bacteria in check.  It is recommended that you remove all buds that are below the waterline, they will just rot and create bacteria.  Other than that it is easy flower care and arranging.

All woody plants can be forced to grow indoors, some will flower, others will be green foliage.  Here are few early spring bloomers worth trying:

  • Forsythia
  • Magnolia
  • Flowering Dogwood
  • Flowering Pears
  • Cherries
  • Apple and Crabapple
  • Flowering Quince
  • Pussy Willow

I found some cheery golden Forsythia at the local grocery store for $7.99 which inspired this post.  Arranging branches is one of the easiest forms of floral design, you just need a nice vase that is properly proportioned to the stem height and pruners for cutting the stems.  I gave the Forsythia stems a fresh cut and placed them in a blue Crown mason jar for display in our bedroom.  I love the yellow and blue contrast.

If you are currently buried under a blanket of snow like we are, I suggest you run outside sometime this week and take a few snips off some trees and shrubs in your yard to bring indoor.  Please remember to only take a little bit off the tree or shrub, it still needs to grow and be enjoyed outdoors.  Also, ask your neighbour before you start snipping away at their plants.  Be kind!

I hope this weekend I can get outdoors and do some tree and shrub snipping myself.  Hopefully all the snow will be gone by then!

Enjoy!

  • I just did this on the weekend and today my forsythia is in bloom (so nice to see with the snow outside!) Was thinking of doing a blog post on it tomorrow!

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  • Marie

    Great article! I’ve recently become very interested in decorating with branches (just got some magnificent rose hip berry branches from the florist) and your article explains the process and most important “planning” better than any I’ve read – the Canadian reference also helps. Question. I guess in helping to learn about branches for indoor enjoyment during the chilly months, do you have any guidelines to the best branches for each month? My florist said that my rose hip berries should last me 1-2 months. It’s October now, and while I’m loving their beauty and colour, I’m already wondering what I should replace them with each month from December-March (or until the sun starts making things cheerful again)? As we know, until April, it’s pretty dreary in Ontario… Thank you for your article.