Force of Nature
A few weeks ago, I decided to coax cuttings of a flowering cherry tree into an early performance in order to speed up spring. Persuading plants to flower out of season is known as forcing. You can either trim branches from your yard or buy them from a florist. There are a number of flowering trees and shrubs that you can choose for your trimmings. I have a flowering cherry tree in my front yard. So, that’s what I used. However, flowering dogwood, redbud, flowering dogwood, saucer magnolia, flowering quince, or forsythia work well, too.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind:
1. Prune on a mild, late-winter day. Branches are more pliable when temperatures are above freezing. Most spring bloomers form flower buds on the previous season’s growth.
2. Look for crowded branches that are no more than 1/2 inch in diameter, with numerous round, plump flower buds. Thinning is okay.
3. Place branches in fairly hot tap water, and recut at an angle. Next, place in a bucket of water with floral preservative. Store in a cool, dimly lit area like a porch or garage to ease the transition indoors.
4. When buds begin to swell, bring branches indoors. Set arrangements in a bright area away from direct sunlight and heating vents. Change water daily.
5. Celebrate spring early! After all, you just fooled Mother Nature.