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Thursday, September 18, 2014
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Published: Wednesday, 1/23/2013

A reason to be excited: spring blooms

BY KELLY HEIDBREDER
IN THE GARDEN

Are you tired of the bare branches and bitter wind? A few fresh blooms inside might pull you out of the winter blues. Bundle up and look around your yard for plants that can be encouraged to bloom before the first day of spring.

What will sprout

Cutting off a few branches to enjoy inside won't hurt. Look for branches that won't disfigure your shrub or tree. Look for crossing branches or suckers around the base of a tree. You will need them to be at least a foot long.

Some trees are also loaded with spring blossoms, so clip off a few of these as you walk by. Redbud, crabapple, dogwood, magnolia, almond, cherry, plum and apple will bloom if you bring them inside.

Any blossoms from these fruit and nut trees will be different shades of white to dark red and they are fragrant. Dogwood and magnolia blossoms are white and pink as well as the stubborn redbud blossoms. Redbuds can take a while to bloom, but wait and cut them into March and be patient. Their flowers are worth the wait.

Here are a few common flowering shrubs to bring indoors: forsythia, honeysuckle, magnolia, quince, spirea, lilac, pussy willow, Rhododendron, azalea, witch hazel and viburnum.

Yellow witch hazel will be one of the first to blossom inside. Cut a few branches each week to keep something blooming. Forsythia is another early bloomer. They don't have much of a fragrance, but it is really easy to coax their yellow blossoms out of their slumber. Other early bloomers that can be forced to bloom are quince, which has orange blossoms, white spirea, purple lilac and the fuzzy pussy willow.

Make them bloom

You can cut branches off of these flowering shrubs and stick them in water, but you might not get the results you were hoping for. To make them bloom, you have to be a bit rough with them.

Strip off the bottom four-inches of leaves and small stems. This will keep your water clean longer. Smash about two inches of the ends with a hammer then slide them in warm water right away. You can leave the entire branch in the water for a day before you put them in a vase. This will keep the buds moist and trigger them to bloom.

But don't put them on the dining room table just yet. Keep them in a cool 55-60 degree area for a few days with lots of light. Then bring them out once you see the blossoms plump.

It can take up to eight weeks for some slow blossoms to peek out. But the closer they are to blooming in nature, the quicker they will open in your house. Arrange them in a vase before they open, that way you won't knock any of the delicate blossoms off. Change the water about every five days or when it starts to look green. Give your branches a clean cut and another smash if they need to keep blooming and they will last about two weeks.

Contact Kelly Heidbreder at getgrowing@gmail.com.



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