I had every intention of posting this a month ago when I put up a how-to for apartment therapy, but for some slow-to-bloom-trees, as in our kwanzan cherry tree or our dogwood, which won't blossom naturally for at least few weeks, this trick still works.
Branches are my favorite types of blooms to have in my home because generally they last a long time and have that whimsical sculptural presence that it's hard to get with many common vase flowers.
Forcing them is super easy too:
• For high, select branches that are at least 12 inches long and that have a lot of buds
• Cut branches from the tree or bush with pruning shears or scissors and trim the ends, removing any smaller twigs and buds toward the bottom 6 inches of the branch (or any part that will be under water once in a vase and will rot)
• Using sharp scissors or kitchen shears, carefully slit the branches at the end in several directions. The slits should be about ¼ to ½ inch long.
• Mash the slit ends into a hard surface so the ends splay out slightly to encourage the branch to absorb water (I used the concrete sidewalk as my hard surface, pressing the ends in and scraping back and forth a few times).
• Completely submerge the branches in a container of cool to lukewarm water so that not parts are sticking out (a bathtub or utility sink are good places for longer branches) and leave to soak over night.
• Place the branches upright in a bucket or their vases and move to a room or area that doesn't get a lot of natural light (I use the hall closet, you can just go ahead and pretend it's sparkling clean ;), and leave for a week or until the buds begin to show little signs of color. Usually I get impatient and skip this step entirely or only let them sit i the closet for a few days, but I've heard it's best to let them wait. During this time add water as needed.
• Move to their permanent location, and enjoy the blooms! Depending on the type of branch, the flowers will take between 1 and 3 weeks to reach full bloom, and may last for several additional weeks. (My dogwood branches usually last for a month at full bloom!)