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 for spring. One thing I like to do that helps, is to forcing forsythia branches to blooms, 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 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 better water absorption. Some people actually prefer smashing the stems with a hammer.
Arrange the branches in the vase, and place it in a spot that is not too warm nor too sunny so that the buds do not dry out.
After about a week they are starting to bloom! Nothing screams spring like forsythia blooms.
After two weeks, the branches are almost all in bloom.
Try this with other flowering trees or shrubs such as, quince, lilac, honeysuckle, crabapple, or cherry.
One thing keep in mind: shrubs are easier to force than trees.
Here’s a great article about the best choices for 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.