How To Force Floral Branches Indoors In Early Spring

March 18, 2024

Did you know it's possible to force dormant flower buds into blooming indoors in early spring? 


Yes, it's possible indoors -- even when it's still dreary and cold outside. It's a great way to bring that spring feeling inside -- early!

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Today I'll be sharing how I forced two different types of blooms, along with a list of some of my favorite flowering bushes and trees that can be successfully forced to bloom indoors for your early enjoyment!  


Forced blooming is when you take branch cuttings (with buds) from a bush or tree that normally blooms outside in early spring (after it has had enough cold weather, normally 5-6 weeks), and place them in water indoors to make them bloom early. 

Forced blooming is a way to fool the branches into thinking that spring has sprung - when it hasn't!


1. Magnolia (including Tulip, or Saucer, Magnolia)

2. Forsythia

3. Flowering quince

4. Crabapple

5. Peach tree

6. Dogwood

7. Lilacs

8. Pussy willows

9. Viburnums

While the above list is nowhere near exhaustive, it's definitely a start!

I got some of my best advice on how to force blooms from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign College of Agricultural, Consumer & Environmental Science. Their blog post Bringing Spring Indoors - Forcing Branches is chock-full of great information. I paraphrase their words below, but urge you to go on and read their blog post as well for the full experience.

According to the University, you should look for branches that have a lot of buds, then cut the branches from 6 to 18 inches long depending on the vase you plan to use. You should make sure to cut the branches only when the temperature is above freezing. (It was in the 40's when I cut mine.) 

Once they're cut, bring them inside and submerge them in water overnight. They also recommend that you recut the stems on a diagonal once they're underwater. (I skipped this step.) The next day place your branches in warm water, and be sure to remove any buds or leaves beneath the water level. 

Put the vase in a cool place (60-70 F) where there's sunlight, but not direct sunlight. Change the water every few days and mist them several times a day (I skipped this last step).

Your branches could take from 1 to 5 weeks to bloom depending on the type of plant. 


We're lucky enough to have both a forsythia bush and tulip (or saucer) magnolia tree in our yard. I asked my husband to plant the forsythia bush years ago, and the tulip magnolia came with the house when we moved in 20 years ago this May.

I've wanted to force their branches for what seems like forever. So this year I finally did it.   

I went outside with my pruners on an unseasonably warm afternoon in early March and started cutting branches.


I started with the forsythia bush. Without cutting too many branches, so as not to affect the overall shape of the bush, I only cut branches that had obvious buds on them. 

Then I moved on to the tulip magnolia tree, and did the same thing.


Tulip magnolia buds are like big fuzzy pussy willow blooms -- only they're filled with gorgeous, delicate pink and white flowers just waiting to explode!


Once the fuzzy outside of the bud is ready, it will fall off and then the flower will bloom.

forced-forsythia-branches-pink tulip-vase

I grew up with forsythia bushes and always loved their vibrant pop of yellow in the spring. Once my branches were in water for 7 days they looked like this. See the green leaves beginning to sprout?

budding forsythia branches in front of gold mirrors

Be sure to change out the water every couple of days.


Ball jr vase pink magnolia blooms botanical print on mantel

While I haven't sees a lot in the way of flowers with the forsythia yet, I did see the tulip magnolia start to bloom even before a week had passed.

close up of pink tulip magnolia bud

forsythia green leaves forced branch ironstone pitcher vase

The forsythia definitely took its time compared to the magnolia. Here it is after 10 days in water. While the leaves are definitely getting bigger, I still don't have any yellow blooms yet.

But I'm not worried. I've read that forced forsythia can take up to 5 weeks to bloom! So I'll just wait patiently in the hopes I'll see those flowers some time soon. (And hopefully then I can update this post with the details.) 

light pink tulip magnolia in bloom

Here's the tulip magnolia after 10 days -- some of the blooms have really started to open! 

And for those of you who don't have any branches to force, there's always faux spring blooms that will do the trick as well:

Artificial Magnolia Stems 

Silk Cherry Blossom Branches

Artificial Plum Blossom Flowers

Artificial Forsythia Flower Branches

Artificial Dogwood Stems

Dried Pussy Willow Branches

Faux Purple Lilacs

I'm excited for spring and I hope you are, too!

Well, that's it for today, friends! 
I hope you enjoyed reading about 
How To Force Floral Branches Indoors 
In Early Spring 
 and that I've inspired you in some way. 

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Leave a Comment!

Junkchiccottage said...

This is a great way to have the pretty spring from outdoors indoors early. With our crazy weather our poor trees and plants do not know what to do. This was great information. Happy Easter Kathleen. Hugs. Kris

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