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Tricking the branches of flowering trees and shrubs into blooming early, a practice known as “forcing branches,” is a beautiful and colorful way to showcase the budding promise of warmer days.
Almost any bloomer can be forced at anytime, says Phil Mueller, of Star Valley Flowers in Wisconsin, which ships woody ornamentals to florists and major retailers. But to increase your chances for success, stick with forsythia, cherry, or crabapple, which generally respond well, and get started late in winter. Mueller gives his tips on forcing.
1 Cut twice It's easiest to force branches when their buds begin to plump, about three to six weeks before normal blooming season. Cut with care, considering the shape of your tree or shrub. Once inside, re-cut the bottoms of the branches on an angle with a sharp pruner.