The dull dreary outdoor weather also makes for dull dreary conditions inside our homes. It always seems to happen about this time of year while we are waiting for the warm spring weather to cause all those colorful outdoor flowers and shrubs to burst into bloom. Forcing garden shrubs to bloom indoors is a great way to get rid of the winter blues and brighten up the gloomy interior of your house.
The bloom buds of early spring flowering woody plants actually formed late last summer and early fall. They are currently in a dormant state and will end their dormancy and emerge when they are exposed to warmth and moisture after their required six weeks of cold temperatures. It is interesting to note that the younger shoots from such shrubs will usually contain more bloom buds and thus will produce more color either indoors or outdoors.
There are many spring blooming shrubs that can be forced indoors. Yellow blooming forsythia or reddish blooming quince or even spireas can be brought into early bloom indoors. Many of us have forced these simple shrubs to bloom indoors, but there are many plants that can be forced to bloom indoors that you might not have thought about. Many fruit trees can be forced to come into bloom indoors. Apple, peach, plum, pear, or even cherry can be forced to bloom. When you do your annual pruning consider bringing some of the smaller branches indoors to make a showy and unique cut flower arrangement. There are even many vine crops that can be forced to come into leaf if not into bloom in the same manner. Clematis, many varieties of ivy, and even Japanese honeysuckle will add color and new growth indoors. These are only my suggestions, there are actually many other plants that you could use.
Forcing spring blooming plants to bloom indoors is actually not that difficult at all. Here’s how you do it. Collect small branches ranging from eighteen to thirty-six inches in length from any spring flowering tree or shrub. Cut the branches carefully with a sharp knife or even better a pruning tool to avoid injuring the plant, but even more so to prevent injuring yourself. Select the branches carefully, remember that the areas where you cut the branches from will put on new growth that will not bloom this year. I suggest trying to remove branches on the back side of the plant or those branches that are in less conspicuous locations of the plant. You don’t want to sacrifice your showy outdoor spring color for later.
Bring the cut branches inside to a low-light location with a temperature between 60 and 65 degrees. A utility room or seldom used bedroom will work nicely. Mist the flower buds with water several times a day as they start to swell and open. As the buds become more swelled and plump, they will need additional light in order for the colors to develop. When the branches are well developed with opening bloom buds and the color is set, your spring flowering branches are ready for display. Place them in a noticeable location in your house such as a dining room table or in the living room. You can move them to cooler rooms at night to make your arrangements last longer.
It’s hard to believe that this year has gone by so quickly, yet here we are in the peak of all the Christmas season activities – hopefully unlike me you have completed the obligatory Christmas shopping and are ready to enjoy the season filled with spending time with family, all the food and leftovers, and of course college football bowl season. We want to remind you that beginning on January 3, 2019 we will be working with our friend Eddy Staggs of Pleasant Grove Lawn and Land Maintenance to recycle live cut Christmas trees. You can drop your tree off here at the Extension Office at 1501 North Airport Road in Jasper anytime beginning Jan. 3rd. Please remove all decorations, tensile, and ornaments. The trees will be mulched and donated to our local Humane Society for use as animal bedding. We also want to wish each of you a very merry Christmas and a happy holiday season. Our publications and agent contact information is available on our website at http://offices.aces.edu/walker/ throughout the holiday season.