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Cut Flower
of the month

            
Blooming Branches

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BOTANICAL NAME

Chaenomeles (kee-NOM-e-leez)
Forsythia (for-SITH-ee-a)
Prunus (PROO-nus)
Salix (SAY-liks)
Spiraea (SPY-ree-ahh)

COMMON NAMES
Chaenomeles: Flowering quince
Forsythia: Golden bells
Prunus: Cherry, Plum, Peach, Nectarine, Apricot, Almond (the stone fruits)
Salix: Pussy willow, Goat willow, Great willow, Florist’s willow, Sallow
Spiraea: Bridal wreath

DESCRIPTIONS
Flowering quince has 11⁄2-inch-wide flowers on tough, springy branches with finely toothed leaves.
Forsythias have four-petaled flowers on soft-wooded stems. These brilliant yellow or gold blossoms make excellent cut flowers.
Most of the familiar species of Prunus produce scented, five-petaled blooms.
Pussy willows have grayish-white, fuzzy catkins (spikes of unisexual, apetalous flowers).
Spiraeas’ flowers, resembling tiny roses, are massed on each flower cluster. The stems are wiry and are covered with narrow, toothed leaves.

COLORS
Prunus blooms are available in hues of pink and white; Spiraea blooms are white or pink; Forsythia blooms are yellow only; flowering quince is available in hues of coral, orange, pink and white; and pussy willow catkins are grayish-white.

VASE LIFE
Lasting quality will depend upon genus (or type). Blooming branches usually last five to seven days, but some can last from two to three weeks.

AVAILABILITY
Availability varies, but in general, these blooming branches are available from late winter through spring.

VASE-LIFE EXTENDERS
REFRIGERATION Store blooming branches in a floral cooler at 34 F to 38 F and at a humidity level between 90 percent and 95 percent.
WATER Check the water level daily and replenish flower-food solution as needed. It is beneficial to recut the stems every two or three days to ensure effective water uptake.
Do not mash, smash or split woody branch stem ends. Contrary to popular misconception, these practices do not help woody stems take up water faster; in fact, these practices inhibit water absorption because they damage the vascular system of the branches.
ETHYLENE SENSITIVITY Some blooming branches are sensitive to ethylene gas. Make sure your woody stems have been treated with an anti-ethylene product at the grower level or during transportation.
HEAT SOURCES Advise customers to display blooming branches in as cool a location as possible, out of direct sunlight and away from heat sources. If possible, they should put the branches in the coldest rooms at night and mist them for longer enjoyment.

OTHER GENERA
Other flowering branches with similar care requirements:
Cercis—redbud
Cornis—flowering dogwood
Lonicera—honeysuckle
Magnolia
Malus—apple, crabapple
Pyrus—pear
Syringa—lilac
Viburnum—Guelder rose

QUALITY CHECKLIST
BLOOMS Avoid purchasing spikes with more than three-quarters of the blooms already opened.
FOLIAGE Botrytis and water stress will cause leaf yellowing and reduced life.

TIPS
BUYING Purchase the blossoms before they open to avoid damage or shattering.
DESIGN Most blooming branches are considered free-form, linear design material that will add size, grace, style and elegance to many arrangements.
BLOOMING Force branches into bloom by putting them in 82 F water with sugar, flower-food solution and several drops of bleach for 12 hours in a warm, well-lit area. Next, place the branches in a properly prepared flower-food solution. Keep the humidity high or mist the branches frequently. It will take up to three weeks for the branches to bloom. Replace the solution frequently, and recut the stems to keep them open.

FUN FACTS
MEANING “Chaenomeles” is a compound Greek word that means “split” and “apple.”
Forsythia is named for William Forsyth (1737-1804), a Scottish gardener who became superintendent of the Royal Garden of Kensington Palace.
“Prunus” is Latin for “plum tree.”
“Salix” is Latin for “willow.”
“Spiraea” comes from the Greek word “speira” for “wreath.”
FAMILY Prunus, Spiraea and flowering quince are members of the Rosaceae (rose family). Relatives include rose, Cotoneaster, Geum (avens), apple and pear.
Forsythia is a member of the Oleaceae (olive) family. Relatives include ash, jasmine, Osmanthus, lilac and olive.
Pussy willow is a member of the Salicaceae (willow) family and is related to cottonwood, poplar, aspen and curly willow.
ORIGINS Prunus and flowering quince are native to China and Japan, Spiraea comes from China, Forsythia comes from China and Eastern Europe, and pussy willow is native to Eastern North America.
ALLERGY-FREE The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology lists blooming branches as allergy-safe pollen-producing plants.

Some information provided by:
The Chain of Life Network, www.chainoflifenetwork.org
Roy Borodkin, Brannan Street Wholesale Florist, Inc., San Francisco, Calif.
Botanica’s Trees & Shrubs
www.theheartofnewengland.com/garden
www.uvm.edu/pss/ppp/articles/forcew.htm
www.urbanext.uiuc.edu/forcing

You may reach “Cut Flower of the Month” writer Steven W. Brown, AIFD, at sbfloral@aol.com or by phone at (415) 239-3140.


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