Branching Out: A basic guide to forcing flowering branches
Step No. 1: Bringing Branches Home
Late winter is the best time to bring home your favorite woody, deciduous shrub or flowering branch for forcing. When choosing your branches, select cuts that are at least 12" long with a large number of round flower buds.
Step No. 2: Start with Pruning
Once at home, it's time to prune the stems. Using pruning shears or scissors, remove any small twigs and buds towards the bottom 6" of your branches, keeping in mind that any young shoots that will be under water will rot. Reserve these small cuttings for tucking into petite jars or bud vases.
Step No. 3: A Fresh Cut
A fresh trim of your stems' ends is essential for best water absorption. To do this, use your shears to create several slits in varying directions at the bottom of the stem. There are two schools of thought on what comes next, the first is to continue prepping your stems by smashing them carefully with a hammer to splay the ends slightly, and allow more water absorption. The other argues that smashing too hard may actual impede water intake, and instead recommends moving onto Step No. 4 after your slits are made.
Step No. 4: Imitate Spring
Place the branches in water and display them in a cool spot (60-65°) with indirect light, misting often until they begin to show color, and replenishing water as needed. Depending on your chosen branches, flowering time may take anywhere from one to five weeks.
Step No. 5: Branches in Bloom
Once your flower buds begin opening, the branches can be moved into bright, indirect light to enjoy. Misting the arrangements, moving them to a cool location (40-60°) at night, and changing the water weekly will ensure the longest life for your blooms.