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Forcing Branches

Articles: Forcing Branches

Follow simple steps to encourage winter branches to reward you with a precocious spring. Photo: Lorene Edwards Forkner

Cheat winter by forcing branches of spring-flowering deciduous woody plants. By late January to mid-February most plants have had the requisite number of weeks of chilling in all but the warmest parts of the West. With only a little prodding in the way of applying gentle heat and boosting humidity, these branches can be persuaded into unfurling their flowers and leaves weeks ahead of their regular bloom schedule. Blossoming twigs make lovely naturalistic arrangements and bring a breath of fresh air to stuffy winter rooms.

You'll need:

A large bucket filled with warm water
An empty bathtub (optimally)
Sturdy vase
Spray bottle


Sharp pruners
Hammer or mallet

On a day when temperatures are above freezing select and cut branches that you can see have buds that are already beginning to swell. Flower buds have a rounded form, whereas leaf buds are often more angular and pointed.

When harvesting branches, use clean sharp pruners to make your cuts so...


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