Forcing Branches Indoors

Forcing branches indoors allows you to enjoy flowering branches before their natural bloom time. It's all easier than you think. So why wait? Find out how to force branches into early bloom with the steps below.

forcing branches, forcing apple branchesBlooming in abundance, apple blossoms are some of the showiest branches to force indoors.

Doing a little late-winter fruit tree pruning? Bring those branches indoors to enjoy their beautiful blossoms before spring arrives. Be sure to use freshly cut branches for forcing.

Flowering Branches to Force

The best candidates for forcing branches include:

  • Forsythia is covered with brilliant gold blooms
  • Cherry trees bloom with pink clouds of flowers
  • Pear branches are generously covered with white blossoms 
  • Crabapple produces white or pink flowers
  • Apple blossoms are white and cup-shaped
  • Quince has single or double flower clusters in white, pink or red
  • Pussy willow twigs are covered with furry white catkins
  • Dogwood blooms generously with flat-petaled, white or pink flowers

Remember, these trees and shrubs need about 2 months of temperatures below 40°F/4°C before they can be forced into bloom indoors. Late winter or early spring is the ideal time to start gathering branches. Select branches when buds are starting to swell. Take several because some may not bloom.

forcing branches indoors, forcing fruit tree branchesEnjoy tree blossoms indoors before spring arrives by forcing them into bloom. It's easy to do.

Steps for Forcing Branches

  1. Cut branches about 1 to 2 ft long, cutting at a 45° angle to expose the inner stem; this helps the branches draw up water.
  2. Trim off any side branches or buds that will sit below water level because they'll rot.
  3. Arrange branches in a tall container with about 2 inches of room-temperature water. Any decorative vessel will do -- a vase, bottle or pitcher.

That's it! You should expect your branches to blossom in about 2 to 4 weeks.

forcing branches, cherry blossomsPink clouds of cherry blossoms give us an early glimpse of spring. Image by Susanne Jutzeler

To show them at their best, place just a few branches in each vase. Group 3 or 5 branch-filled vases together for a beautiful display.

Care Tips

Keep your cut branches in a fairly cool (60-70°F/16-21°C) and bright room, but away from direct sunlight. Just like potted and cut flowers, warm temperatures and sunshine encourage flowers to open, while cooler temps will allow flowers to open slowly and last longer.

Another trick that helps flowering branches to last longer is to cut off a bit of the stems every day or two, allowing them to drink up more water. Also, replace with fresh water every couple days, keeping the water level at the same height.

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