Dormant prunings from many deciduous flowering plants can bring
spring bloom early to your living room. All you need to do is arrange
them in water and move them to a warm place.
For best bloom, cut limbs soon after buds begin to swell in late
winter. Recut each branch an inch or more from the cut end and immerse
it immediately in a large container of water. You can use branches from
1 to 4 feet long.
Arrange the clippings in ornamental containers while they’re
still dormant. (After petals open, flowers tend to shatter if you
rearrange them.) Move the arranged clippings to a warm place. Watch the
gradual transition: smooth-barked whips swell with lumpy buds, then
burst into bloom. You can enjoy a handful of clippings, as in the
photograph above, or a single sculptural branch.
For a succession of flowers, keep excess clippings in a bucket of
water set in a cool place, so they’ll stay dormant longer. When
the old bouquet withers, bring in a new cluster of whips.
We don’t recommed trying it deliberately, but even clippings
left out of water for several weeks in cool weather have bloomed. If
the slick layer just under the bark (the cambium) is still moist,
it’s worth a try.
Which clippings will bloom? Favorites include most deciduous
fruits, especially ornamental crabapples, cherries, peaches, and plums;
also dogwood, forsythia, deciduous magnolias (cut after buds are well
developed), Japanese quince, redbud, spiraea, and pussy willows.
If you succeed in forcing early bloom on other woody flowering
plants, we’d like to know. Write to the Winter Flower Report,
Sunset Magazine, 80 Willow Rd., Menlo Park, Calif. 94025.