The Q&A Archives: forced branch

Question: Lilac & forsythia bush for forced branch for March 19th. When do I cut these branches & put in vase of water in sunny window & wait for bloom? I need bloom for march 19th

Answer: It's difficult to time the blooming of these branches; they will bloom a few weeks earlier than their normal bloomtime outdoors. So, mid-January is a good time to cut forsythia, early February for the lilacs. Here's how:

With pruning shears or a sharp knife, carefully split the cut end, one to four inches. Place cut branches in a container of warm water and recut one inch from the base of the stem. This will help prevent air from entering the stem through the cut end, blocking water uptake. Remove any buds and twigs that will be under water.

Place containers in a warm room (60 -70 degrees) and change the water every few days. You may add a floral preservative to the container water to help control bacteria.

It may take one to eight weeks for the blossoms to open. The closer to their natural bloom time that you cut the branches, the sooner they will open.

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