Tag Archives: forsythia


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.


Suggested Pruning Time for Common Flowering Trees, Shrubs, & Vines

Spring-Flowering Plants:

Plants that bloom in early spring usually produce their flower buds the year before. The buds over-winter on the previous year’s growth and open in spring.
Prune after flowering:

Alternate-leaf Butterfly-bush (Buddleia alternifolia)
Azalea (Rhododendron species)
Beautybush (Kolkwitzia amabilis)
Bigleaf Hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla)
Bradford Pear (Pyrus calleryana ‘Bradford’)
Bridalwreath Spirea (Spiraea prunifolia)
Clematis (Clematis species)
Climbing roses
Crabapple (Malus species)
Deutzia (Deutzia species)
Dogwood (Cornus species)
Doublefile Viburnum (Viburnum plicatum var. tomentosum)
Flowering Almond (Prunus species)
Flowering Cherry (Prunus serrulata)
Flowering Quince (Chaenomeles species)
Forsythia (Forsythia species)
Indian Hawthorn (Raphiolepsis umbellata)
Japanese Kerria (Kerria japonica)
Japanese Pieris (Pieris japonica)
Mockorange (Philadelphus species)
Oakleaf Hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia)
Pyracantha (Pyracantha species)
Redbud (Cercis species)
Saucer Magnolia (Magnolia x soulangiana)
Star Magnolia (Magnolia stellata)
Thunberg Spirea (Spiraea thunbergii)
Weigela (Weigela florida)
White Fringetree (Chionanthus virginicus)
Winter Daphne (Daphne odora)
Wisteria (Wisteria species)
Witchhazel (Hamamelis species)

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.

Beautyberry (Callicarpa species)
Butterfly-bush (Buddleia davidii)
Camellia (Camellia species)
Chastetree (Vitex agnus-castus)
American Cranberrybush Viburnum (Viburnum trilobum)
Crapemyrtle (Lagerstroemia species)
Floribunda roses
Fragrant Tea Olive (Osmanthus fragrans)
Gardenia (Gardenia jasminoides)
Grandiflora roses
Glossy Abelia (Abelia x grandiflora)
Goldenraintree (Koelreuteria species)
Japanese Barberry (Berberis thunbergii)
Japanese Spirea (Spiraea japonica)
Mimosa (Albizia julibrissin)
Nandina (Nandina domestica)
Rose-of-Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus)
Sourwood (Oxydendrum arboreum)
Anthony Waterer Spirea (Spiraea x bumalda ‘Anthony Waterer’)
Sweetshrub (Calycanthus floridus)