Gimme Spring Forward

    Any number of beautiful branches from neighborhood trees can be made to bloom indoors. These include forsythia, redbud, quince, dogwood, hawthorn, honeysuckle, apple and crabapple, pussy willow, spirea, and lilac. Here are a few guidelines:First, prune the branches. Cut them off the tree or bush when the temperature has been above freezing for one or two days, if possible. (That shouldn’t be a problem this winter!) Branches should be cut on the diagonal, not straight across. After you bring them inside, split open the bottom of each stem about one inch deep with sharp scissors; if it’s a woody stem, gently mash the ends with a hammer. This will help the branches absorb water. To prevent rot, remove any buds or twigs and that will be under the water line. Put them in warm water in a tall vase or bucket.
    Keep them cool for a day. This will help the cuttings adjust to the big temperature change. Next, bring the container into a warmer part of the house, but keep it out of direct sunlight. Remember, the branches need springtime (not summer) conditions to bloom. Don’t set them next to a heating vent. Change the water two or three times a week. Cut the bottom inch off the branch once a week with the same splitting technique you started with. You can mist them from time to time, too. Wait for them to bloom. Depending on conditions, forsythia and pussywillow generally take only one to three weeks to force. Flowering fruits (apple, crabapple, and cherry) can take up to four, and lilacs can take five. Even if the buds don’t open, you will be rewarded with bright green foliage for your trouble. A cheerful sight, in and of itself!