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Forcing Forsythia

Laura Dean Bennett
Staff Writer

In my yard, up in the Hill Country, the first flowers that bloom every spring are the cheerful golden buds of the forsythia bushes. 

But they’re not ready to bloom just yet.

As I am impatient to have a fresh flower arrangement in the house again after a long winter of evergreen cuttings, I do what my mother taught me. 

She called it “forcing” the forsythia. It’s easy, and I’m sure most of you have done it. But, in case you haven’t – here’s how. 

When the swollen buds look almost ready to pop, do a little judicious trimming of forsythia stems at the length you choose for your vases. If you find yourself without clippers, the stems are brittle and will usually snap in your hands. 

Arrange the stems in water and in a few days, you will see them begin to open. 

The process will often cause the dried husks of the blossoms to gradually and continually drop around the base of the vase, so you may want to place an easily-shaken cloth under the arrangement to catch the litter. 

Change the water often, be careful not to jostle the blossoms and keep the vase away from direct sun and heat.

I sometimes store mine in the garage at night.

Your forsythia arrangement may last for weeks.

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