This winter seems like it will never end. So in the meantime here is a fun activity you can do indoors to have some pretty blooms before spring fully arrives.
Stems of a number of woody plants can be forced into bloom for indoor display. Of course, some are easier to force than others. Three of the easiest are forsythia, pussy willow, and flowering quince. These plants have now gone through enough cold weather to satisfy their chilling requirement and should bloom if given the right conditions.
Choose a day that is above freezing for collecting branches for blooming. Keep the stem length to 3 feet or less. As you cut, place the stems in a bucket of water. Once you have the number of branches you want, bring them into the house and soak them in warm water for several hours — a bathtub works well for this. This ensures that the stems and buds are fully hydrated. Next, place them in a container that has a warm, preservative solution and place them in an environment with high humidity and plenty of light.
Make your preservative solution by dissolving packets of floral preservative in water. These packets can often be obtained from your local florist. You can also make your own preservative by adding a tablespoon of Listerine per gallon of water, but commercial preservatives are preferred. Floral preservatives accomplish two functions; they prevent bacterial growth in your water and provide nutrients and energy for the life processes of the plants.
Many times our houses have a very low relative humidity during the winter. These low humidities can lead to dehydration of flower buds and blossoms. To raise the humidity around your plants, mist the plants or drape a dry cleaner’s bag over your stems. If a cleaner’s bag is too small, use a painter’s clear plastic drop cloth. Humidifiers can also help raise humidity levels.
Normally, forsythia will take about nine days to flower, quince will require between 12 to 20, and pussy willow needs from five to 15 days. The time required will vary depending on indoor conditions and how late in the winter the branches were collected. Most woody plants should be in flower within three weeks of collection and will remain in flower for about a week before blooms start to fade.
Warm seasons grasses include Bermudagrass, Buffalograss, and Zoysiagrass they require special care to survive our hot and dry summers. Year round attention is needed to keep the weeds down and help your grass look green and lush. Follow this DIY calendar to care for your lawn each month.
Spring is just around the corner, planning your garden and landscape can start today! Join us for this three-part garden series, Wednesdays in February at the Osborne Public Library from 12:10-12:45pm. Contact Cassie Homan at your local Extension Office for more details.
Even though it may be cold and dreary outside, seed catalogs are starting to arrive! You can request catalogs for free from most seed suppliers. They are often shiny, colorful, and offer the latest high quality seeds. If you find the catalogs a bit overwhelming, you are not alone. Look for varieties that offer disease resistance and will do well in our summer heat.
Click here for my latest newspaper article discussing how to navigate a seed catalog:
Do you have winter blues and miss your garden? If you have a passion for plants and the outdoors, consider joining the Extension Master Gardener Program. With this fun program you will receive a mini horticulture degree and be able to give back to your community. Contact Cassie Homan at your local Extension Office for more details.
To learn more and fill out an application click this link;
Bulbs made to flower at other than normal times are said to be forced. The practice of forcing is commonly used to flower daffodils, hyacinths, tulips, crocus and other spring bulbs during the winter. This is a fun activity to do in the winter, to create beautiful blooms in your home over the cold months ahead.