As we wait for Puxatawney Phil to tell us whether we’ll have 6 more weeks of winter, we know spring will be a bit of a wait, regardless of what he says.
But why wait for it to happen outside when we can bring spring indoors now! How? Basically, you’re going to be tricking your spring-flowering shrubs into thinking it’s springtime.
Here are some guidelines to getting their branches to bloom:
Cut branches only if the outdoor temperature is above freezing.
Choose branches that have lots of flower buds (these are bigger than the leaf buds on branches), and cut branches 1 to 3 feet long.
Make sure you don’t disfigure the bush you are cutting from, since you still want it to look good in the spring.
After bringing the branches inside, re-cut the stems to be sure air hasn’t blocked the cut end. Smash the woody ends (gently) with a hammer. Remove buds that will be underwater to prevent rot.
Place in a vase of warm (not hot) water. Place in a cool location away from direct sun. Higher temperatures may cause the buds to develop rapidly, but you’ll sacrifice size, color and quality.
Change the water 2-3 times per week.
After the buds have started opening, place your branches wherever you like.
Generally speaking forsythia and pussywillow take 1 to 3 weeks to force; apple, crabapple and cherry can take up to 4 weeks; and lilac up to 5. In addition, you can force redbud, flowering quince, dogwood and others from your yard.
So bring spring early, force a mixture of branches, and create lovely indoor arrangements while waiting for spring outdoors to arrive.
Prune Summer Flowering Shrubs In Late Winter or Early Spring.
Many summer flowering shrubs bloom on the current year’s growth. Pruning them back in later winter encourages them to produce lots of new growth that summer and will result in more flowers. Don’t be afraid to cut fast growing plants, such as buddleia or caryopteris, down to as little as 10-12” tall. The exception to this rule is Hydrangeas.