Branching Out in Winter

The barren months of winter bring their own special beauty. Views obscured by leaves are now visible during the coolest months, and hikers are free to enjoy the scenery without the threat of mosquitos, ticks, snakes and other adorable critters. Seeing the beauty of the delicate colors and patterns of branches, along with the depth of the evergreens, is an acquired taste. For those who prefer the riot of spring colors, there is a way to bring spring early.

The “Art of Pushing” to Get Flowering Branches to Bloom Early

  1. Cut several pencil thick branches from flowering fruit trees, dogwoods, Forsythia, Spirea or flowering shrubs. Use pruning shears to cut about one-fourth an inch above another branch during the warmest part of the day for the most sap. Look for twigs with a large number of bud marks, cutting them 6- to 20-inches long.
  2. Strip buds and leaves from the lowest section that will be submerged in water, then strip the bark away with a knife. Cut the base into slits or tap gently with a hammer to increase water absorption.
  3. Put in a tub or warm water for several hours or overnight. Then wrap in wet newspaper (or mist daily) place in a bucket with flower preservative and store in a cool dark place for about three days. Change the water with preservative every day. Storing the buds in a basement or garage that has a temperature of about 60- to 65-degrees is recommended. Soon buds and leaves will begin to appear.
  4. Place the branches in a vase with indirect sun and enjoy! While not all of the plants will bloom, most will produce fresh bright leaves that bring the promise of spring. Some plants may even begin rooting as a bonus.

For longer lasting blooms use this flower preservative recipe:

  • 2 Tbs. White Vinegar
  • 2 Tbs. Sugar
  • ½ tsp. Bleach
  • 1 Quart Warm Water

Mix well and let sit for 20-30 minutes before using.