How to Force Winter Branches

I absolutely love bringing color indoors all year long, but in the winter it seems like more of a necessity than anything- to lift up the darkness outside (and how early it comes) and bring in a natural pop of color. It’s also fun to go out looking for branches to bring indoors and be surprised by the type of blooms that will emerge as  a result.

For those who aren’t familiar with forcing, it’s something that is often done with bulbs indoor, too, but the process is quite different. With branches, you need to carefully prune them from a tree (obviously one you have permission to cut) while making sure not to harm the tree in any way.  

The best way to do this is by using a sharp knife and making a clean cut, cutting off stems that are about 12-inches each (try to cut at an angle so that when they are submerged in water, they will absorb more water). Generally this should be done any time after mid-January or when the trees have had at least two months of temperatures below 40° Celsius. Trees like cherry, maple, apple and pear make gorgeous blooms as do the willow that will produce those fuzzy blooms everyone loves to touch.

Branches in bucket

Once you bring them indoors, soak them in cool water- preferably in a bathtub although that’s not always so practical so I just use a bucket and keep turning them to make sure the whole branches are submerged. Do this for about 2-3 days.

Branches in Blue Vase

Then move the branches to a vase with water such as you would any live flower arrangement. Keep in a cool part of the house (not warmer than around 65° Celsius) and in indirect sunlight.

buds coming out of branches

Within about 2-3 weeks, buds should begin to appear and you can keep them in a vase or move them to another fresh flower arrangement. Either way, they’re a beautiful addition to any room in the house.

buds on mosaic table

Wouldn’t you say so?


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