If you're anything like me, right about now you're resembling Jack Nicholson in "The Shining", after he had been cooped up for weeks in a remote and empty hotel. Glassy eyes, pent-up energy, typing "All work and no play....." over and over again..... In other words, spring can't come soon enough! Rather than taking our impatience out on our loved ones, there is actually a way to make spring hurry up and show up! All you need is...
That's right, I said it, "The Force". No, I'm not suggesting you go purchase a voice changing Darth Vader mask or an exact replica light saber (although that would be pretty cool). In this case, I'm talking about actually taking branches that will eventually bud and showcase beautiful flowers throughout spring and summer, and forcing them to create those buds (almost) at your will. It is possible to have beautiful, flowering arrangements inside your home several days, even a few weeks earlier than they would, left to nature.
Forsythia and pussy willows are the quickest to produce blooms, although any flowering branch (including fruit trees) will make quaint and aromatic arrangements. It's best to cut the branches from trees on a warm day, but this is doable even with frozen branches. Grab your pruning shears or garden scissors, find branches that already have several buds appearing, and select branches that are about 1/2" in diameter for the best results. Cut the branches at an angle, and smash the ends with a hammer to "bruise" the ends, which allows them to soak up water a bit faster.
Once your branches have been selected, cut and bruised, place them in a bathtub or bucket of warm water. Soak them for at least a few hours, possibly even overnight, and out of direct sunlight. A garage or basement is ideal, and some experts suggest wrapping them in newspaper or a garbage bag while they're soaking. After you've completed this step, transfer the branches into a container that you can change the the water from whenever it gets dirty, or at least every few days to once a week. Using a commercial flower preservative can help the life of the blooms be prolonged, but this step is completely optional. Avoid letting the branches dry out, by misting them often everyday, or covering with a plastic bag. Rooting may occur with some of the branches, in which case you simply cut them back again. Or, if desired, potted so it can be planted at the optimal time. Live moss does well early planting also.
Depending on the variety, blooms will begin to appear in about a week, or as long as 6 weeks. Keep in mind, the closer it is to the time that the tree would actually bloom in nature, the sooner its branches will bloom when being forced. With just a little work and patience, you can enjoy an early spring "feel" from inside the comfort of your own home, and possibly make a few neighbors jealous. And, should the mood strike you, a few branches inside a reconditioned light saber might get some extra attention.
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