Field of Science

Forcing flowering

What's a guy to do? Spring is not cooperating, and my taxonomy class needs some flowers. Some of the early flowering tree/shrub species are showing swelling buds, so it's time to force some flowering. Most woody species at this stage can be forced into flower.  First you just cut some branches, and then as soon as possible you pound the base of the stem with a hammer to sort of pulverize it. This helps the wood wick up more water. The branch is then placed in a bucket of water. It works best to put branches is a cool place, but if you need flowering sooner, put it in a warmer place, like a glasshouse. So what's available?  Silver and red maple, witchhazel, alder, birch, filbert, Cornelian cherry, an ornamental pear.  Not bad, but our forsythia flower buds are toast. The shrub is hardier than the flower buds, so if any flowering happens this year all the cheerful yellow flowers will be low to the ground where they were insulated by snow. The silver maple flowered overnight, which was way too fast, but TPP will get some more now that he knows. The Cornelian cherry is showing some color, and other buds are still swelling, so we'll see what happens. Hope the students appreciate my efforts. As for Ms. Phactor, she got some artificial forsythia for St. Patrick's Day because there won't be any others.

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