Forcing Stems of Woody Plants for Indoor Bloom
Posted: February 14, 2012
Stems of a number of woody plants can be forced into bloom for indoor display. Some plants are easier to force than others. Three of the easiest are forsythia, pussy willow, and flowering quince. These plants have now gone through enough cold weather to satisfy their chilling requirement and should bloom if given the right conditions.
Choose a day that is above freezing for collecting branches for blooming. Keep the stem length to 3 feet or less. As you cut, place the stems in a bucket of water. Once you have the number of branches you want, bring them into the house and soak them in warm water for several hours – a bathtub works well for this. This ensures that the stems and buds are fully hydrated. Next, place them in a container that has a warm, preservative solution and place them in an environment with high humidity and plenty of light.
Make your preservative solution by dissolving packets of floral preservative in water. These packets can be obtained from your local florist. Floral preservatives accomplish two functions; they prevent bacterial growth in your water and provide nutrients for the plants. Houses tend to have a very low relative humidity during the winter. These low humidity levels can lead to dehydration of flower buds and blossoms. To raise the humidity around your plants, mist them or drape a dry cleaner's bag over them. Humidifiers can also help raise humidity levels. Normally, forsythia will take about nine days to flower, quince will require between 12 to 20, and pussy willow needs from five to 15 days. The time required will vary depending on indoor conditions and how late in the winter the branches were collected. Most woody plants should be in flower within three weeks of collection and will remain in flower for about a week before blooms start to fade.