GUIDELINES FOR FORCING CUT BRANCHES


1. Pick a day to cut branches when the temperature is above
freezing. This may be as early as mid- January for forsythia
or pussyillow. However, for the more difficult to force
ornamentals (such as crabapple, apple, and redbud) it is best
to wait until mid-March or longer.

2. With pruning shears or a sharp knife cut branches that have
numerous flower buds. (6-18inches) If the temperatures are
below freezing when you cut the branches, immerse the
branches full length in cool water (bathtub or sink) for
several hours or overnight. This keeps the buds from
bursting prematurely. If the weather is above freezing, there
is no need to a soak.

3. After soaking, remove any buds or twigs that will be under
water to prevent rot. Re-cut the bottom of the stems at an
angle and split open the bottom with a sharp knife about one
inch (if it is a woody stem, gently mash the ends with a
hammer). This will help the branches absorb water.

4. Select a CLEAN container that will hold the branches
upright. Add warm (not hot) water no higher than 3 inches
on the stems. Allow the stand for 20-30 minutes, and then
fill the container with additional water. Place container in
cool place away from direct sunlight. Higher temperatures
will cause the buds to develop rapidly, but you’ll sacrifice its
size, color and quality. Branches need light for forcing, but
not direct sunlight. Heat from direct sun is too intense, and
often drying. You can also mist them occasionally to prevent
drying. Add a floral preservative to help control bacteria.
Change water 2-3 times a week and keep water level at
original height.
5. Forsythia and pussywillow generally take only 1-3 weeks to
force. Flowing fruits like apple, crabapple and cherry can
take up to 4 weeks. And Lilacs can take 5. For best results
start several cuttings at a week apart before a Horticulture
competition.
6. Once the blossoms are out, you can move the branches to a
sunnier location. They will last longer away from direct sun
and heat vents. Once pussywillows open remove from water
or they will start to root and develop green shoots and drop
the buds.

RECPES FOR PERSERVATIVE SOLUTIONS:
1. 2 cups lemon-lime carbonated beverage
2 cups water
1/2 tsp. household chlorine bleach

2. 2 Tab. fresh lemon juice
1 Tab. sugar
1/2 tsp. household chlorine bleach
mix with 1 quart water

3. 2 Tab. white vinegar
2 Tab. sugar
1/2 tsp. household chlorine bleach
mix with 1 quart water
© Weston Garden Club