Forcing Red-Twig Dogwood

img_1179.jpgBack in December, I blogged about how wonderful red-twig dogwoods are for providing winter color. In answer to my question about whether to coppice my dogwoods, a reader suggested taking out one-third of the branches each winter and putting the cut branches in water to encourage bloom.

It’s been so cold recently that I haven’t felt like roaming around the yard with a pruner, but Saturday was a pleasant day, so I went out and cut some branches from my rangiest dogwood. I followed the procedure for forcing branches that is outlined at the Purdue University web site. Forcing basically means bringing the branches inside and coaxing them into thinking it’s spring so they will bloom.

Purdue recommends putting the branches in a tall container and using a preservative liquid. The branches are essentially bathed in the liquid, which apparently keeps them healthy and makes them bloom more. I had one nice tall vase to use, but all my other vases have disappeared, so I had to put some of the shorter branches in a martini shaker. (The last time anyone had a martini around here, Reagan was president.) The preservative is a mixture of lemon-lime soda (pop to you Minnesotans), water and a touch of chlorine bleach. The branches will now sit in a slightly dark, cool corner of the basement for a few weeks. If it works, I should have flowers sometime between Easter and April Fool’s Day.

7 thoughts on “Forcing Red-Twig Dogwood

  1. I have always wanted to do something like that, I think i may just get to it ! .. and it is “pop” for Canadians too ! LOL

  2. When forcing Red Twig Dogwood, you may get some small leaves, but no flowers. You would need something that already has the flower buds formed, like Magnolia, Forsythia, or possibly another early bloomer, like plum.

    It’s a good experiment, and I enjoy doing that too. Another one that puts out a lot of leaves, (but no flowers) would be lilac.

    From The Rock and Roll Gardener,
    Mpls/ St. Paul

  3. Neza: Thanks for the information. The Purdue fact sheet implies that flowers will form if there are buds–and there are some small buds at the ends of the branches. It may be those will be leaves, not flowers. We’ll find out in a few weeks. By the way—love the music on your blog.


  4. I was very excited to try get my red dogwood to bloom. I went outside, pruning shears in hand only to realize that I don’t have a red dogwood in my yard. The bush that I thought was a red dogwood is really brown. I know that it flowers in the spring though. Do you think if I follow the same protocol it will bloom too? I’m thinking of inviting my family for Easter and I would love to have it as a center piece.

    Love your blog. I was trying to tell my mother, who winters in Florida, how to get to it but she was having some trouble.

  5. Woodbury gardener: You can always try! I don’t know what you’ve got, but if it has some buds on it, you may well get leaves or a bloom. Your mother can always find the blog by googling “my northern garden.” It usually comes up at the top of that search.


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