Creating Winter Interest Inside the Home

— Written By and last updated by Nancie Mandeville
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Dogwood in bloom

The holidays are over and most gardeners can hardly wait for spring to arrive! One way to get rid of the winter blahs is to bring some of the outdoors in through unusual arrangements. You can get the feeling of early spring by forcing plants to bloom indoors in late winter.

Many common flowering shrubs can be cut and forced to bloom indoors. Forsythia and pussy willow are probably two of the most popular shrubs for indoor forcing. One thing you should know about pussy willow is that you can stop its development at any stage simply by removing it from water; it will keep perfectly in dried arrangements for years. Winter honeysuckle has fragrant white flowers and fragrant viburnums have pink-white flowers. Other common shrubs that can be forced to bloom indoors are azalea, mountain laurel, quince, rhododendron, serviceberry, spicebush, and spirea.

Dogwood and redbud are two small trees whose branches can be forced to bloom inside. If you have fruit trees that you will prune in late winter, bring those stems in and they will bloom as well. For unique winter arrangements collect stems of landscape trees that are growing in your garden. They will produce interesting catkins, flowers or foliage and add interest to an arrangement. Try collecting twigs for dry arrangements from plants that have interesting growth characteristics. Examples are winged elm, corkscrew willow, red-osier dogwood or crepe myrtle.

When collecting stems for forcing indoors make long slanted cuts and place in water. Change the water every four days. Keep the plants between 65 – 70 degrees. Plants should bloom in about three weeks. Just like bulbs that are forced, trees and shrubs forced indoors can be started at intervals to provide a longer period of bloom. Experiment with what is available in your landscape to create interesting and unique winter arrangements.

Happy New Year!