Inviting Spring Indoors

brach 3

brach 4

branch 5

branch

forsythia leaf

oxalis 2

oxalis

This has been such a fun winter full of snow, sledding, skiing, ice skating and snowmen.
But I won’t lie, I’ve got Spring fever!

Yesterday I was so tempted to put the snow boots and gear away up in the attic but then reminded myself that it’s not quite Spring yet.

Rather than let myself get in to a funk, I have a few tricks up my sleeve to get me through the
end- of- winter blues.

A few weeks ago I bought a few Oxalis plants to brighten things up a bit and began to force some branches.

Forcing is an easy way to invite Spring indoors. A gentle nudge to a blooming tree or shrub can perform quite an amazing display and act as a reminder that soon the warmer weather will arrive. Even before they leaf out and bloom, branches are beautiful on their own, like a sculpture giving height, texture and definition to any room.

Any woody, deciduous shrub or tree that flowers in the early spring is perfect for forcing. Forsythia, flowering quince, cherry, plum, pear, crabapple, dogwood, spirea, witch hazel, magnolia and pussy willow are successful indoor bloomers. Wait until after the flower buds swell in late winter to begin the process.

I bet there are many candidates right in your own backyard. If not ask a friend or neighbor for a clipping. The forsythia pictured above is from my mother’s garden and the fallen dogwood branch I found on my morning walk.

Forcing branches

::Pick a day to cut branches when the temperature is above freezing. A rule of thumb for cutting is mid-January for forsythia, pussy willow and witch hazel. Mid-March for trees like crabapple, cherry, pear and dogwood.

::With pruning shears cut branches that have numerous flower buds.

::After you bring the branches inside, split open the bottom of stems with sharp scissors about 1 inch or if it is too woody of a stem, gently mash the ends with a hammer.
This will help the branches absorb water.

::Make a simple preservative of 1 teaspoon of sugar, 1 teaspoon of plain household bleach and 2 teaspoons of lemon or lime juice and a quart of warm water.

::Fill vase with solution and add branches.

::Place in a cool location away from direct sunlight. Remember they need springtime (not summer) conditions to bloom.

::Change water and preservative once a week.

::Forsythia and pussy willow generally take only one to three weeks to force.
Flowering fruits like crabapple and cherry can take up to four weeks.

::Be patient. Sometimes buds can be stubborn and take longer to open and occasionally some buds may not bloom at all. But you can almost be certain you’ll be rewarded with bright green foliage.

::If timed right you can have different blooms adorning your home for many weeks.

::Add store bought spring blooms like tulips and ranunculus for an extra punch.

::Experiment and have fun!

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