Saturday, February 23, 2008

Forced Branches: Quince, Crabapple, Willow, Ceris, Dogwood, and Forsythia

During the winter I miss the abundance of material from the garden for floral arrangements. This winter I am enjoying the shrubs and trees in the garden that force easily. By easy I mean that you simply cut the branches, place them in a vase with water, and wait. No special soaking or temperature control should be required. Here are the successes so far.

Quince are easy to force and grow. The flowers are very delicate and are lovely against the mostly bare branches. The shrubs are vigorous and won't miss anything you cut. The only caveat is that they should be planted in an out of the way spot because they tend to lose most of their leaves by midsummer and are a bit thorny. Quinces will grow in full sun or part shade with equal success.

Crabapple (pictured above) to my surprise has been extremely easy to force. I brought some into the house from the Egg Garden a few weeks ago with the intention of enjoying the fruit that remained. In about a week, the buds began to swell; then the branches leafed out; and now, they are just beginning to break into bloom.

All kinds of willow are super easy. Ones with large catkins are wonderful to look at, but also are a treat to touch. But other willows which are grown more for their leaf like Salix 'Flamingo' are fun to watch leaf out and root at the same time.

Ceris 'Forest Pansy" is beautiful when forced and pruning it helps to keep it small enough for the front border. The dainty little flowers can also be better appreciated when viewed up close in a vase. I do not have other redbuds in my garden. I would love to see if the redbuds which produce flowers all along their stems before they leaf out would force also.

The red twig dogwoods make great displays all winter. The dark red stems are beautiful especially when contrasted with the new lime green leaves. The yellow stemmed ones would work well too and would be more subtle.

Forsythia, as many know, is a great forcer and will grow vigorously just about anywhere. For a prior post on forcing forsythia and bulbs, click here: http://heirloomgardener.blogspot.com/2006/02/forcing-forsythia-and-bulbs-of-all.html.

I will have to try some other branches in the next month. My goal is to get twelve months of cut material from the garden. Any suggestions?
*****
For follow-up pictures of quince, ceris (redbud), and pussy willow, click here:

6 comments:

GardenJoy4Me said...

That is an ambitious plan but I think you may be able to do it !
Great post !
Joy : )

Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

I'm so glad I read this post today - I just pruned my crabapple. I'll stuff the branches into a vase & see what happens. I once managed to force a Magnolia stellata branch. It didn't last very long though.

Shady Gardener said...

You've just given me the great idea of heading outdoors to clip some limbs. Thank you!!! (Guess it takes someone else's ingenuity sometimes, doesn't it?) ;-)

Katarina i Kullavik said...

Beautiful branch! Brings Spring inside./Katarina

heirloomgardener said...

Mr. McGregor's Daughter,

Good luck and let me know how it goes. I would love to force a Magnolia, but I don't have a spring blooming one.

-Heirloom Gardener

Lisa at Greenbow said...

Yep, I'm gonna halfta get out there and get some of those pussy willows, forsythia etc and bring em in.

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