Shrubs and Trees for Late Winter and Early Spring Forcing

from The Frelinghuysen Arboretum

The following table gives times to bloom for forcing branches of local trees and shrubs when cut at various dates.

Plant nameDays to Bloom
if cut on …
Bloom time


Abeliophyllum distichum – White forsythia20155Apr 5Flowers
Acer palmatum & japonicum – Japanese Maple2010Apr 5Flowers/leaves
Acer rubrum – Swamp or Red Maple20106Apr 5Flowers/leaves
Amelanchier arborea – Serviceberry, Shadbush252015Apr 15Flowers
Betula spp. – Birches20155Mar 25Leaves
Chaenomeles speciosa – Flowering Quince252010Apr 20Flowers
Cornus mas – Cornelian Cherry Dogwood20105Mar 25Flowers
Corylopsis glabrescens – Fragrant Winterhazel20105Apr 5Flowers
Forsythia x intermedia – Forsythia20105April 5-15Flowers
Hamamelis x intermedia – Witchhazel3-71-3Feb.-Mar.Flowers
Jasminum nudiflorum – Winter Jasmine105Feb.-MarchFlowers
Lonicera fragrantissima – Winter Honeysuckle25155Mar 25Flowers
Magnolia stellata – Star Magnolia157Apr 15Flowers
Magnolia x soulangiana – Saucer Magnolia157Apr 15Flowers
Mahonia bealei – Leatherleaf Mahonia207Mar 25Flowers
Malus hybrids – Crabapples3020Apr 25Flowers
Pieris japonica – Japanese Andromeda20147Apr 15Flowers
Prunus spp. & hybrids – Ornamental Cherries251810Apr 20Flowers
Pryrus calleryana – Callery Pear2010Apr 15Flowers
Rhododendron mucronulatum – Korean Rhododendron205Mar 25Flowers
Spirea prunifolia – Prumleaf Spirea2212Apr 15Flowers

Cut branches should be soaked for a few hours to overnight in warm water. The easiest way to do this is to lay branches in a bathtub. Place branches in a clean container and fill with warm water. Use a floral preservative to keep bacteria down. About every fifth day, thoroughly clean container, fill with fresh water and give the branches a new cut before re-placing them in the water. To clean the container, fill with warm water and ¬Ω cup of bleach. Let the container soak about one hour, then empty and rinse well before refilling.

The closer you get to the normal bloom time the faster the branches force. In January try pussywillows, winter jasmine and witch hazels since these plants normally bloom in January or February, in February, try March bloomers, etc.

Please note that in warm years, plants will force much easily than in cold winters.
The number of days given is an approximation and length of time and may vary.