Learn about forcing forsythia and other flowering branches indoors. This is a great way to bring in some garden beauty during the late winter months.
The winter here in Pennsylvania can drag on and on. Some people joke and say we have four seasons; almost winter, winter, still winter, and summer. While that's obviously not true, our spring and fall do seem to fly by, and in the winter, garden lovers like me can't wait to get a jump start on spring.
One thing I like to do that helps is to force forsythia branches to bloom so that I can have some cheery yellow blossoms inside, while there is still snow outside.
Where I live many people have forsythia bushes, and they are aggressive hardy growers, so cutting a few branches never hurts.
All you do is trim branches with sharp pruners to the desired length. I like to have varying sizes, but all are pretty large around 2 to 4 feet.
Prepare a vase with lukewarm water, and a teaspoon of bleach.
Next, re-cut the stems by cutting into the bottom, about one inch for more surface area to absorb water. Some people actually prefer smashing the stems with a hammer.
Arrange the branches in the vase, and place them in a spot that is not too warm. A place where there is a decent amount of light but not direct sunlight.
Change the water every few days or once a week just like you would any cut flower.
After about a week they are starting to bloom! Nothing screams spring like forsythia blossoms.
Other Flowering Trees and Shrubs to Try Forcing Indoors
Note forsythia is probably the easiest to force and the quickest. However, you can force other branches but they may take a few extra weeks to bloom.
- Pussy Willow
- Other flower fruit trees such as Pear, Peach, and Plum
One thing to keep in mind: shrubs are easier to force than trees.
Here's a great article about the best choices for forcing branches by the time of year from Fine Gardening.
If you don't have any flowering bushes ask a family member, friend, or neighbor. They probably won't mind, and it only takes 2 or 3 branches to make a pretty statement.
Enough to carry you through the next few weeks.
Forcing Forsythia Branches
- Garden Pruners
- A large bucket
- Branches from a Forsythia shrub
- A tall vase
- Prepare a tall vase with lukewarm water and a teaspoon of bleach. You could also use some commercial floral preservative that often comes with cut flowers.
- Fill a bucket with warm water and take it outside to your Forsythia shrub.
- Cut branches in varying lengths and place them in the bucket.
- Once back inside, re-cut the branches on an angle or make a slit up the center to allow additional water intake.
- Arrange the branches in your vase and place it in a light cool area away from heat and direct sunlight.
- After about 1-2 weeks you should have blooming branches and you can then move the vase where ever you like in the home.
Patti, I did not know a person could do this. Our forsythia has already bloomed in AR, not too well may I add. Not sure what is wrong with it. Maybe next year I will try this before the blooming starts. Thanks for the ideas you give us.
Paula, if you live in a warmer climate the shrubs are already in bloom. I should have shared this article earlier. It's been a strange winter. Perhaps that's why you don't have many flowers. Hopefully, it will bounce back and produce more next year.