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How to Force Bloom Forsythia Branches Indoors

Forsythias are one of the first flowering shrubs  to show blossoms in early spring. In our Midwest region we see the flower buds start to emerge as early as mid- March.  In warmer regions, they can emerge as early as January or February. The yellow is definitely a welcome pop of color against a gray and drab landscape. Personally, I’ve never even given a forsythia a second look until this year. I looked at it as an ordinary landscape filler, and now that we are home so much I’m really starting to appreciate how that bright yellow is signaling that spring is on its way. I wanted to share with you how to force bloom forsythia branches indoors, because they are such an easy branch to force bloom. If you don’t have Forsythias,  there are other branches you can apply this method to as well for early blooming as  well like the Eastern Redbud, Cornelian Cherry Dogwood,  Serviceberry, Plum, Crabapple, Honeysuckle, Magnolia, Quince, Pussy Willows, Peach and pear branches.  I clipped my flowering branches on Monday  full of plump buds and by Friday I had stems of bright, yellow flowers in my kitchen. I have a few tips below to share with you that they learned about forcing branches for the best success.

Indoor forced forsythia branches in March

There are lots of types of branches you can force bloom some of it depends on where you live. You can also force bulbs to bloom indoors but that’s an entirely different post and you can read about how I forced tulip bulbs here. You can watch a video of preparing the flowering branches for force blooming on Jennifer Rizzo TV, or continue onto the post below.

Unopened Forsythia branch buds ready to force bloom

When force blooming flowering branches, make sure you don’t try to force them too early. Clip the branches when they have decent sized buds already formed closer to their natural blooming time and already have small leaf buds. If you cut them too early and they won’t force properly.  The perfect time is when there is a little color showing at the tip of the bud and they are plump and firm.

how to force bloom forsythia branches indoors and where to clip forsythia branches for forcing

When you cut your branches use clean pruning shears ( not like mine, lol) , and make your cut at the base of a stem after a node. Select healthy branches and use sharp pruners for a clean cut.

pound edge of stems when forcing branches

After cutting your stem, you actually want to pound it a little bit at the end to open up the fibers of the stem so  the branch has more surface area to draw up more water. Many places recommend a hammer, I didn’t have one ready available so I decided to go all Little House on the Prairie-style on it and use two rocks. It worked just as well. Other places make a recommendation of a slit at the base of the branch, or cutting the stem on a diagonal. While it is prettier,  I don’t seem to have as much success as the pounding the stem method.

Forcing forsythia branches indoors to bloom

After that, place your stems for force blooming in warm water, out of direct sunlight so the buds don’t get dried out, and make sure the water level stays constant and doesn’t get lower than the ends of the branches.  The warmth of the water should help the stems think it’s earlier spring and open. If you want to delay opening, place the cut stems in a bucket of cold water in a cool location (but not freezing) like a basement or garage until you are ready to force them.

When force blooming branches, it’s important to keep the base of the cut branches under water at all time in your vase when initially forcing. If the branches end up getting too low air will be drawn up into the bottom of the stem and you will have to make fresh cuts to continue the process.

Forcing Forsythia Branches to bloom indoors

When clipping forsythia branches to force bloom, making sure you don’t trim too many branches from a smaller shrub, and never take any more than a third of the branches total in any one given season. Try to clip your branches at various heights for interest. One larger branch alone is enough to bring a bit of blooming sunshine into your home.

Indoor forced forsythis branches in March

Forcing forsythia branches indoors inspired me to paint some, and you can see with a video of how to paint those here!

If you’re looking for more gardening content, check out these posts for spring inspiration. You can also search “garden” to find out more about organic gardening and growing your own veggies. Don’t be afraid to tackle spring with dirty hands! Anyone can be a gardener even with a few pots and a balcony. I even love growing certain vegetables and plants in containers over a garden bed like a stock tank planter because not only do some of the plants do better, but they are less likely to be bothered by pests and are easier to weed!

How to plant a cutting garden

Harvesting Lavender in the Garden

5 Easy to Grow Flowers for the Backyard Gardener


If you are interested in more floral inspired crafts and DIY’s, check out:

Foraging Wildflowers for Decorating

How to Press Flowers with a Book

DIY fast and Easy Button Flowers

How to force bloom forsythia brnaches indoors