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Forcing Forsythia Indoors

Forcing Forsythia Indoors

Heidi Wechselberger |

Impatient for spring to start? Craving a little flower action? Forcing the stems of early spring flowering shrubs will bring a little taste of spring indoors until you can get out to play. Forsythia is a prime candidate!

Here's how we did it this year at Peter Knippel Garden Centre.  

  1. Pick a day in late February to late March (in our zone 5 climate) that is above freezing.
  2. Cut Forsythia stems from your shrub. It is best to keep them to under a meter in length for best flowering. Use sharp pruners to avoid crushing the stem, thus limiting the uptake of water.
  3. Place the stems in a bucket of warm water, then cut the base of each stem a second time while the base is submerged in water. When stems are exposed to the air, water evaporates and plant tissues start to dry out. Cutting them underwater prevents this from happening and makes it easier for the stems to take up even more water.
  4. Let the stems sit in this warm water for a few hours, then change the water. You can add floral preservative to your water at this point if you'd like. Once the forsythia stems are back in the bucket, cut the base a final time.

Buds will open up fastest, bloom best, and last longest if you keep your container of forsythia stems in a cooler spot that gets a bit of sun. At the garden centre, we keep ours close to the door of the store where the floor stays cool and put them out on the front step on milder days. 

PS. Try these stems in flower arrangements, centrepieces, even in early spring planters in a sheltered spot at your front door. Take a photo of your creative masterpiece and share it with us!