Forcing Branches for Indoor Enjoyment
Use a pair of pruners to cut branches above a healthy bud, where a branch joins another branch or just above ground level. Start with crossing or winter damaged branches. This way you can manage the plants growth while harvesting some stems for your enjoyment. Save the majority of your pruning, however, for late spring after these shrubs have flowered.
Place the branches in cool water, about 60°F, in a brightly lit location. Mist the stems as often as possible and keep the cut ends in water. The buds should start swelling and flowers start to appear in several weeks.
Cut the stems to the proper length and use them in flower arrangements. They look great mixed with spring flowering bulbs, greens and other flowers. Or display them in a vase all on their own.
Prolong their beauty by moving the flowering stems and flower arrangements to a cooler location at night.
A bit more information: Combine major pruning renovations with a bit of indoor enjoyment. Remove a few of the older stems of forsythia, lilac and other multi-stemmed spring flowering shrubs back to ground level. This encourages new growth at the base of the plant. Cut the larger branches down to a useable size for your indoor enjoyment. Then finish any needed pruning after the plants put on their spring display so they can bloom next spring. Avoid severe pruning that can result in excess growth. Removing no more than ¼ of the total growth will result in more even growth.