Forsythia Branches: Bringing in an Early Spring

In the bleak dark days of winter, we crave the brightness of blooming flowers. Some of us spend thousands of dollars on hothouse flowers from the florists’ shops. Others follow the old-fashioned practice of bringing spring into the house early by ‘forcing’ forsythia shrubs to bloom ahead of their usual time.

It’s easy to do this!

Wait until your garden has had a good hard freeze that lasts for several days and nights. This extended cold period signals to the forsythia that winter has come, spring will arrive soon, and they can prepare to bloom. If you try get flowers before a freeze, you’ll get nothing at all.
Cut several forsythia branches from your bushes. You can examine the branches to find the little bumps that will become flowers. Choose branches with a lot of bumps to get more bloom.

Take the branches indoors. Slit the bottoms of the stems lengthwise for an inch or so, to help the branches take up more water. Put them in a bucket of tepid water and set them out of the way in an ordinary heated room. A shadowy corner is fine. They don’t need sunlight at this stage, just warmth and moisture.

Keep the bucket filled with tepid water and wait as patiently as you can. You’ll notice the little bumps swelling to become buds. In a week or two, depending on the individual bush, one of the buds will show a beautiful gold color.

This is the fun part! Move the branches into sunlight, and watch them bloom!

When almost all the buds are open, you can treat them like cut flowers. Put the flowering branches into any large vase, but be sure to weight the bottom so they don’t tip it over. Place them anywhere that you will enjoy them frequently.

It’s like having spring sunshine in the middle of the winter! The bold golden blooms will lift your spirits every time you look at them.

You can force almost any bush or tree that blooms very early in the spring. Try this technique with witch hazel, pussywillow, quince, or flowering cherry or crabapple branches. You’ll be thrilled with the results.

Fill your house with spring blossoms, and banish winter darkness before nature does!

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