Forcing Spring Flowering Shrubs

QuinceIt seems like every year Punxsutawney Phil, our official forecasting groundhog, sees his shadow and forecasts an extended winter.  It's hard news to hear when you are eager to get outdoors and start gardening.

So what's a gardener to do? One way you can defy Old Man Winter is by forcing blooming shrubs such as quince, forsythia and pussy willow into flower indoors. The process is simple and the results will brighten your home while you wait for spring. Here is how you do it.

As soon as you see the flower buds on your spring flowering shrubs start to swell, clip a few branches to bring indoors. Select branches that are heavily loaded with buds. You will usually find these towards the top of the shrub.

Once you get the branches inside it's important to re-cut the ends at a slight angle. Then make a few slits about 2 to 3 inches long around the base. Both of these steps will help draw more water up into the stems.

Put the branches in a bucket of water and keep them in cool dark place for a few days, misting them occasionally. Then move them into a well-lit room and watch as the warmer temperatures coax the flowers into bloom.

Whatever Punxsutawney Phil decides, knowing that spring can be enjoyed a little early indoors makes these last weeks of winter more bearable.

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