Bringing Spring In the Door
Pussy willows are busting out all over. Forsythia buds are starting to swell as are flowering quince, cherries, almond, weigela and crab apples.
Cut those pussy willows ASAP and tie them in small bunches. Then hang them upside down in a darkened shed or garage so they will dry straight. If you dry them standing, the catkins will bend outward and separate from the stems more easily. Do not put the stems of fresh-cut pussy willow in water.
In three to four weeks, spray the pussy willows with a mixture of one part by volume white Elmer’s glue and nine parts by volume water. The diluted glue will reduce shattering of the catkins during handling and help in keeping them dust free.
Start spring indoors by cutting four to five branches of forsythia, flowering quince, cherry, almond, weigela or crab apple. Soon after cutting, dunk the base of the stems in 100-degree water in a vase. If you want to hasten flowering by a few days, cover the branches with a layer of thin clear plastic wrap such as the wrapping used by dry cleaners to protect your freshly cleaned garments. Placing the covered branches near a window facing west or south will create a greenhouse effect. As soon as the flower buds begin to open, remove the plastic.
To maintain a succession of flowering branches, bring in fresh-cut branches at two-week intervals until about the middle of March. Branches will force more quickly as outdoor temperatures rise and as plants approach their normal flowering period.