Monthly Archives: February 2012

4 Easy Steps to Force Shrubs into Bloom


Notice the shell pink flowers.

Japanese flowering quince branches forced into bloom.

Flowering quince May 2011

Indoor flowers are a rare and welcome sight in late winter. So, last week on a warm February day, I cut several branches from my flowering quince (Chaenomeles japonica) for forcing.  I love the delicate shell-pink flowers and am fascinated that their outdoor spring flowers bloom red. I’ve added a list of other flowering trees and shrubs that are said to force well at the bottom of this article. If you have tried forcing branches please let me know in the comments section.

If you follow these four simple steps you can force your own branches into welcome winter floral displays:

  1. On a late winter day cut some branches with swelling buds from a flowering shrub. If you’re feeling industrious you can also prune the shrub as you gather your branches but be careful not to cut out too many buds or you’ll lose your spring floral display.
  2. Bring the cut branches indoors and immerse into warm water. You can increase water uptake by slashing the bottom of the cut branches with pruners or smash them with a hammer (very satisfying). However I’ve found this unnecessary when I procrastinated and they began to sprout leaves.  Since my flowering quince branches have ferocious thorns, I prune these out now too.
  3. Expose your branches to light and heat; I sit my container in front of a register in a sunny room. I know some people say to keep them cool and dark but this works for me.
  4. Voila! The buds will begin to swell in a week or two; prune your branches to fit a vase and make your arrangement. Enjoy!    

Additional spring-flowering shrubs to cut for forcing include:

  • Chinese and Japanese witch hazels (Hamamelis mollis)
  • Forsythia
  • Deutzia
  • Redbud (Cercis canadensis)
  • Pussy willow (Salix discolor)
  • Rhododendron
  • Azalea
  • Mountain laurel
  • Lilac
  • Bridal wreath spirea (Spirea prunifolia)
  • Carolina silverbell
  • Viburnum
  • Magnolia
  • Winter jasmine
  • Mock orange (Philadelphus spp.)
  • Crabapple (Malus spp.)
  • Flowering dogwood (Cornus spp.)
  • Flowering fruit trees such as cherries and plums (Prunus spp,)

Favorite Resources

Some of my favorite resources:


 Ohioline comes from Ohio State University Extension and is your Link to Information, News and Educational resources. This site offers hundreds of factsheets, bulletins and other educational materials concerning various subjects.  My favorites are usually found in agriculture and/or natural resources, but other subjects offered include: family and consumer sciences, community development, 4-H and youth. If you find a bulletin on Ohioline that is too large to print, check for it at the online bookstore. Their e-store has many publications that are not currently available on Ohioline. 


Wildlife Watch Garden

The Wildlife Watch Garden is where I am a volunteer gardener. I’m involved in developing a kids’ garden called Sunplace Special: A Children’s Garden. This garden was the class project of the master gardener class of 2007. It consists of eight different garden areas with the following kid-friendly themes: Five Senses, Storybook, Fairy, Bird & Butterfly, Barnyard, Vegetable, Hands-On, and Wildlife Watch.

Sunplace Special has a budget that you can’t even describe as shoestring. But it has dedicated gardeners that continue to dream and  improve it each year. Already it is a place where children can learn about plants, where food originates, and  how they can help their planet Earth.

The Wildlife Watch Garden is a place where kids can learn to explore the living creatures in their own backyard and how flora and fauna interact. I will keep you updated with our trials and tribulations and hope to hear from those that have trod this path before; do you have any experience and advice for me? I’d love to hear from you.

All gardens are a work-in-progress.

No garden remains static. Tulips and daffodils turn into brown tangles. The rose blooming today, morphs into hips tomorrow. The lush annual bed becomes a bouquet source for a three-year-old. A favored flower becomes prey for beetles. The third-year leaper is an unkempt mass by summer’s end.

The gardener intervenes. Design choices demand plant relocation. Growing trees and shrubs change light patterns. Plants sulk in the wrong place. Desire for perfection rears its ugly head.

But the garden continues progressing.