Get the Most Out of Spring Flowers
Fruit trees bear flowers ranging from pure white to hot pinkish red. Some of the most popular are cherry (shown, far left), quince (shown, center), and apple (shown, right). Also look for crab apple, plum, and, for a jolt of yellow, the nonfruiting forsythia bush.
- Start tall. Height is an advantage of branches; you can always trim as you go.
- Cut branches on a diagonal (if they’re thick, use pruning shears or shrub pruners). Then split each one up from the bottom about an inch, or use a vegetable peeler to peel the bark off the bottom two inches. Don’t mash them; splitting is less traumatic and allows just as much water in.
- Mixing varieties is fine, says Saralegui, “but keep things fairly symmetrical―short cherry blossoms with tall dogwood branches will just look strange.”
- Branch arrangements can be top-heavy. Make sure your container is sturdy enough to resist tipping. For more stability and a wider arrangement, use a shorter, broader vessel.
- Tepid water is best―cold water delays branches’ already slow blooming. Murk and bacteria accumulate much faster with branches than with stems, so check the water daily (if you use an opaque vase and can’t assess the water, simply expect a shorter life span).
- Trim branches every few days, splitting or shaving as you go.
- As with long stems, a tablespoon or a capful of a good floral food helps prolong the spectacle. You can prune out wilted blossoms and adjust your arrangement to suit its new, sparser shape.