This process is called "forcing" flowering branches.

By Sara Dickinson
July 09, 2020
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Getty / Philipp Dase / EyeEm

Believe it or not, you can harvest cherry tree branches and get them to bloom indoors. The process is called "forcing," and it allows you to create stunning arrangements that speak to the early days of spring. We asked Emily Jackson, Operations Manager at My Gardener LLC, to walk us through the process of cutting branches the right way so that they'll burst into blossom inside. "This is relatively easy to do with some patience and a little gumption," she says.

Time Your Cut Right

According to Jackson, the very first thing you want to think about is timing. "Don't cut before January 1, or if the year is warm year, mid-January," she says. "You can also take cuttings later, into early March, but you may not get as many blossoms."

Know Where to Cut

Before you make the cut, make sure the branch you are taking off is towards the back of the tree or in a crowded area. "To keep your plant healthy and looking like it should, choose a spot where you can take a branch without noticeably altering the shape of the tree," Jackson suggests. You'll want to choose branches with a lot of flower buds. If you can't differentiate between the leaf buds and the flower buds, which will be bigger, she recommends cutting into it to see what's forming inside.

Be Precise

To make your cut, use clean, sharp pruners. Make a diagonal cut at the bottom of the stem where it joins the branch. "Don't leave long stubs or tear the branch," Jackson explains, "and for the best results, choose a sunny afternoon with warmer temperatures." After you remove your branch, make two crossed slits into the bottom of each stem and place them in water as soon as you can. "You'll want to keep them really moist for the first few days, either by regularly misting them or by putting them in a plastic bag away from sunlight," she notes. Her best tip? Put your branches in water in your bathtub and leave them there overnight.

Keep Branches Moist

The final step to ensuring your cherry tree branches will blossom indoors is keeping them in clean water and misting them often—better yet, keep a humidifier nearby. Leave them in a cool, bright area and wait for the bud to change color, which will happen before they open. "It takes about a month of care and babying, but it's so worth it to see and smell the beauty of spring even a tiny bit earlier!" Jackson says.

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