How to Force Tree Branches: A Beautiful Indoor Winter Project

Every winter I try to continue my obsession with indoor gardening. It usually happens after I get antsy with the realization that I can’t put anything into the ground with all the snow that surrounds me, but I persist in finding ways to keep my thumb green. That usually means forcing bulbs of some sort. It can be amaryllis or narcissus– bulbs (learn how to force those in this post) which can be found at all sorts of garden centers and even hardware stores or on Amazon. Sometimes they’re pricey; sometimes not. But if you have a yard (or legal access to one) with trees that flower in the springtime, you can do this type of forcing of tree branches– for FREE! 

I originally wrote about doing this many years ago here when I did it a rather complicated way, or at least it took a bit more time because I thought I should soak the branches in water before putting them in a vase. This time, I simply didn’t have the patience for all of that after taking a nice long walk outside (which was nice and peaceful) because I picked so many branches off my lilac trees that it took a while to clean them up (cutting off all the dead leaves) that I just wanted to get them in their vases instead of soaking them in a bucket and waiting to display them.

I knew I was taking a chance that they might not bloom, but they actually did- and faster than before! They bloomed so well in just a few days that it brought instant life to my home. At first, they bloomed green leaves and then white blooms looking just like the lilac flower itself. It’s been absolutely heavenly- and super easy to do.

I hope I can persuade you to do the same, with whatever type of tree branches you have outdoors that you want to bring inside.

Here’s how to force your tree branches:

Use a clean garden knife (yes, dirty knives can transmit diseases in trees) to cut the branch of your desired tree. Cut on the angle. Collect as many branches as possible. 

Bring the branches indoors and snip off any type of small, dead twigs. Fill your vases with cool water, then arrange the branches according to how you’d like to see them, giving them some space to bloom. Change the water every few days to keep the branches healthy and giving them the best chance at blooming successfully. Keep in indirect light. 

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