The practice of coaxing flowering branches into bloom indoors, well before they would be flowering outdoors, is a simple and gratifying way to satisfy that intense itch for spring’s beauty and renewal. Don’t be put off by the term forcing – no bullying is involved - just an assist for plants to do their spring thing a bit sooner!
If you have access to flowering trees or shrubs that could spare a few branches, you are well on your way to a blossoming bouquet of spring! Don’t despair if you lack the traditional crabapples, dogwood or forsythia - even the easy to overlook flowers of maples and other shade trees become worthy of attention when blooming up close, in the house.
“Forcing” is as easy as snip them, soak them, and show them off!
In addition to some local branch access, all you need are hand pruners to cut the branches, a bucket or tub and water for soaking, a cool holding-spot of about 60-65°F that’s out of direct sunlight, and a sturdy vase to display your branches in once they burst into glory!
Are you ready to bust a bloom? This online guide from Purdue University’s Cooperative Extension gives the step-by-step on forcing. They include a generous list of suggested plants with forcing time and bloom descriptions for each. You’ll even find three recipes for homemade “floral preservative” to extend the life of your branch bouquet.