The Garden Spotter

Coaxing Your Flowering Shrubs Into Bloom



It’s one of those years where the calendar may say it’s spring, but the flowers and shrubs in my yard are acting like they missed the memo. The crocuses flashed a little purple and saffron. The tulips pushed their petals through the earth. And then the temperatures dropped again, and the snow fell. And suddenly, all the flowers got a little shy.

Eager to see a little more than tiny green buds, I decided to take matters into my own hands and force the quince that borders our front porch into an early spring. And within a matter of a week or so, I had beautiful pink blossoms in my living room.


To do this yourself, just grab a pair of pruners and head outside. Quince, lilacs, forsythia, apple and magnolia – any tree or shrub that naturally flowers can be coaxed into bloom much earlier than nature intends.

Cut pieces that make sense from a pruning standpoint, cuts that improve the health and/or shape of the bush or tree. Cut just above the joints if you can. Cut off branches that cross into others and inhabit their growth. Cut off branches with wounds or disease. Cut branches that extend beyond the rest and spoil the pleasing roundness of the bush or tree.

When you’ve gathered a handful, bring them inside and trim off the lower leaves and make deep angled cuts on the lower ends so your stems will be able to drink freely. Fill a deep vase with warm water and add a little sugar if you want for extra energy.

Sit back, and watch the early spring show.

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