Tuesday, February 24, 2009
I recently taught a class on planning a cutting garden and one of the suggestions for having flowers all years long was to force spring blooming shrubs into bloom. I've always loved the delicate blossoms of peaches, cherries and apricots, but growing up, my father would have killed us if we cut a branch off the tree. Even as an adult, I would have felt guilty trimming a fruit tree about to flower. But this year, a customer asked me to trim a bare root tree they were buying and left me with a handful of branches. Instead of throwing them out, I decided to give forcing a try.
To force spring blooming shrubs to do their thing follow these simple steps:
1. Select branches from trees who's buds are already starting to swell.
2. Lay them in a bathtub overnight filled with lukewarm water.
3. Wrap the branches in moist newspaper. (I find it easier to wrap them in dry paper and then spray the paper until it's wet).
4. Slit the bottom portion of the stem about two inches so they can absorb water better and place in a vase.
5. Mist the paper daily and change the water in the vase.
6. Remove paper when color begins to show in the buds (about one week to 10 days).
It's best to avoid a location near a heater because this dries the flowers out. You can keep them in a garage while forcing as long as the temperatures are above freezing. Misting the blossoms daily will help keep them longer.