Eager to stand out from the crowd as you meet with brides and grooms this summer? A solution may be growing in your own back yard: spring flowering branches.
Flowering branches are available beginning in early spring across wide swaths of the Northern Hemisphere. They grow on a variety of trees and shrubs and offer a rainbow of colors to accent any floral theme. Depending on which plants grow in your region, you may choose from the snowy white of pussy willow or serviceberry; the range of pinks offered by apple, cherry or dogwood; the royal lavender of wisteria; the deep red of quince; the sunny yellow of forsythia; or the bold, surprising chartreuse of witch hazel.
Many floral wholesalers offer regional varieties of flowering branches. Enterprising floral designers, often try their luck with specimens growing wild in wooded lots, or the domesticated examples in their own back yards and landscape beds!
If you plan to harvest your own branches, follow some general timing guidelines based on the work of woody ornamentals expert Janet Bachmann.
- Forsythia, quince, apple, cherry: Cut when buds are very tight
- Lilac, rhododendron, Kalmia, deutzia, camellia, witch hazel, hibiscus, Mahonia, spirea, Pieris, viburnum: Cut when buds are starting to open
- Acacia, hydrangea, leonotis, Hypericum, Cornus, Erica: Cut when buds are nearly open
If you can, try to gather or purchase some “practice” branches a couple of weeks in advance to study how and when they open.
Get additional tips on using and caring for flowering branches in the April May issue of Floral Management.