How to Force Branches

Here in Texas, spring “is busting out all over” (any one know where that line is from?  Love those old movies!)   Which means for me this year, it is a little late to force branches, but for those of you who have a little more time, I thought it would be fun to share with you how wonderful it is to force branches.

If you haven’t heard of forcing branches, it means that you are basically cutting off some branches from a flowering tree or shrub.  Bringing them inside before they have bloomed, and helping them to bloom indoors… ( I guess for those of you with allergies, this may be your biggest nightmare!)

Two years ago (yes, apparently it takes me two years to blog about a subject…) when we were visiting my mom’s house, my brother had just pruned their apricot tree, which was overly ambitious that year.   There were a ton of branches just laying around the yard ready to bloom…. so I brought them in, recut the bottom and stuck them in a vase, and in days, (because it was so late in the season) we had the most beautiful display of buds I have ever seen in my life, and it kept blooming for days!   I forgot to take a second picture of the blossoms fully in bloom… but I hope you can imagine it.  Do you see all those buds…and they ALL bloomed!

forcing branches 3


forcing branches copy


So how do you do this?

How to Easily Force Branches


1. Check your yard for blooming trees (or ask your local florist).


Some good varieties to try might include:










Pussy willow




2. Choose the best branches

The best, are at least 1 foot long, that have a lot of buds.  Your branches will be more successful if the buds are a little more developed and swollen almost ready to bloom.


3.  Collect the branches

When temperatures have risen above freezing, carefully cut some branches off of a tree or shrub in your yard (from the list above).  Be sure that you use a sharp blade to avoid disfiguring the tree.  You may need to cut a couple extra branches, in case the don’t all bloom.


4. Cut the branch end on an angle

Once you bring your flowers inside you will need to recut the end.  A nice angled cut on the stem will allow for more water.  Once cut immediately place the branches in some nice clean water, the deeper the water the better.  If available add some flower food to the water.  You can also add a tsp. or so of bleach to keep the bacteria from getting to the branches.


Some branches do better if you score and crush the end of the branch slightly, a hammer would do the trick nicely.


5.  Mist the branches

You want to trick the branches into thinking it is spring,  (April showers and all) so mist them with a sprayer now and then.  Keep them out of direct sunlight and away from a heater vent to help them last longer.   Your branches may begin to bloom within one week, or they may take as long as 8 weeks, (depending on how close they were to their natural bloom time when you cut them.)   If you cut them early, be sure to change the water out every 3 or 4 days, to keep it clear and clean.


Once they begin to bloom, you may want to re-cut the stems to help the water easily enter the branches, to extend the life of your blooms.  Enjoy!


I thought it would be fun to show you some examples of what you might be able to enjoy:


04-2008 143


04-2008 220


blooming apple tree branch

Pussy Willow:





cherry blossoms

Viburnum (although, I sort of hate the smell of these, am I the only one?)






Have any of you forced branches before?  I would love to hear any other tips you have to share!

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Cassity Kmetzsch started Remodelaholic after graduating from Utah State University with a degree in Interior Design. Remodelaholic is the place to share her love for knocking out walls, and building everything back up again to not only add function but beauty to her home. Together with her husband Justin, they have remodeled 6 homes and are working on a seventh. She is a mother of four amazing girls. Making a house a home is her favorite hobby.

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  1. So funny! I’ve been singing that song although it’s about three months early! I love Carousel and all the old musicals too. Thanks for the post – I’ve been wanting to try forcing some of our blooms since they’re all budding so early.

  2. So pretty! We don’t have any flowering trees on our property(husband and boys have horrible allergies,) but I love seeing forced branches in other people’s homes. Thanks for sharing.

  3. I want to go scrounge in the yard for branches right now…so pretty!
    I would love for you to come share this at my linky party, Cowgirl Up! going on right now!