by Joanne K., Pitt County Extension Master Gardener Volunteer
During these dreary winter days, gardeners yearn for some sign of color to bring indoors to promise that spring is on its way. However, the garden has little to offer in the way of colorful cut flowers for indoor bouquets in January and February. But there is a way to bring color inside by forcing the stems of winter – and spring-flowering trees and shrubs to bloom.
For the best results, look for branches with many enlarged buds that are starting to show some color. The closer the buds are to actual bloom time, the more successful the flowering will be.
Successful forcing requires both warm indoor temperatures and a good uptake of water into the stems.
Before placing the stems in a vase with warm water, remove any buds, twigs, or leaves that will be under water.
If your cuttings have not opened after about four weeks, they were cut too early. Try again with new cuttings.
Through trial and error, you'll discover the flowering trees and shrubs that work best for you and when is the best time to bring them indoors.
While waiting for the beginning of the spring planting season, bringing some woody branches inside to flower is a fun way to enjoy some winter gardening.