We all have a need to have some green plants in our house to help cheer us on until spring decides to come.
At this time of the year, it is so close that we can just about taste it. There is something that we can do to give ourselves a little project to keep us going until our tulips start popping out of the ground.
When I was a kid, it was popular to take a few branches off of a pussy willow and force the branches into flowering. Forcing branches into flowering, in our homes is a fun project that the whole family can do. It also gives quick rewards which is great for kids since waiting for something to happen is not in their ideals of what should happen.
The key to forcing plants is to chose plants that are spring flowering. Spring flowering trees and shrubs are those that bloom before June. These plants form their flower buds in the fall.
The branches to choose generally appear with more plump and rounded buds then what leaf buds are. Do not choose any branches off of flowering trees that are totally upright or nearly upright. These are waterspouts and generally do not provide any flower buds.
The plants to look for are: Serviceberry, forsythia, redbuds, pussy willows, magnolias, lilac, cherry, crabapple, plum, and maybe apple trees. You may have other spring flowering shrubs that will work as well. You just need to look for the stems that have the most flower buds present. In some plants, this is easy while in others, it may not be so evident.
We also have to take in mind that every time we cut a branch off of a plant, it will not be there in the spring to bloom too. So, taking just a few, selective branches will be the way to go.
After you have made your selection and cut your branches, they will need to be soaked by completely submerging the whole branch in a tub or pail of water. This needs to be done for about two or three days. You will probably have to weigh the branches down in order to keep them submerged.
In the "old days" we used to just cut the branch and place it into a vase of water but now we have found that we get better bloom time if we can submerge those branches which helps to soak the flower bud scales allowing them to open much better.
Once this has been accomplished, take the branches out of the tub and stand them in your favorite vase full of water.
The branches will force in a room temperature of about 65 degrees F. The warmer the room temperature, the faster the blooms will fade away. It also helps not to keep them in direct sunlight.
Serviceberry and Forsythia will take about one week to bloom. Redbud and Pussy willow will take about two weeks to bloom. Magnolia will take about three weeks while Lilac, Cherry, Crabapple and Peach will take about four weeks to bloom. Red maple, not mentioned before, will also have some beautiful red flowers while some trees as birch and oak have really beautiful foliage when forced indoors.
You can mix these all up with some store purchased tulips, daffodils, or hyacinths for a great looking and great scented table display to keep up your spirits during these last wintry days before spring arrives.
For more information on gardening, you can call me at 823-4632 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org