Forcing Branches 101

While I’m waiting for spring to unfurl from winter, I often find myself eager for something beautiful and cheerful in my home. 

The easiest way for me to achieve this is by cutting branches from woody shrubs and force them to flower indoors. 

This practice is an age-old practice and easy to do at home. 

All you need are some budded up branches, clean sharp pruners, and a vase with clean water.

Safety First

There’s nothing more romantic about flowering branches than a safety warning. 

Please, wear some sort of eye protection! If you’ve never scratched your eye, I will tell you from experience that it is extremely painful. 

Working with branches, there’s so many ways that can go wrong. 

Finding Branches 

Check your yard for flowering shrubs and trees. There’s all kinds from forsythia, spirea, cherry blossoms, willow, and more! 

If you don’t have any, live in apartment, you can check with your local flower farmer. 

The easiest branches to force are forsythia blooms!

Time to cut 

If you are in zone 8a/7b like me, begin collecting branches in mid-January to early February.

They need sufficient chill time to flower, so be sure to not cut too early. You may check for little swollen beads along the branch before cutting. 


Once you have identified which branches to cut, using sharp pruners, cut on an angle. 

Bring them inside and place the freshly cut ends in a clean vase or bucket with water, placing them in a bright room out of direct sunlight. 

Check the water and re-trim your ends after a couple days - keeping it full with clean water. You’ll begin to see the buds develop and will soon flower. 

Depending on the branch type, it may take as little as a week and up to four or five weeks. 

Enjoy the Beauty! 

To enjoy your blooms longer, keep the flowers moist by misting them with a spray bottle.

In the comments below, what are your favorite flowering branches? What questions do you have about flowering branches?