Using Serviceberry

Serviceberry is an attractive understory tree for lawns, shrub borders, woodland margins or native plant areas. The shrub forms can be grown as tall informal hedges or screens. When used in a woodland or naturalized area, it is particularly attractive with a dark or shaded backdrop which tends to highlight the form, flowers and fall color of the plant. An added bonus in this scene are the reddish purple buds that add some character to the plant in the winter. Serviceberry does well in windbreaks, roadside plantings and along the banks of streams and ponds. They are resistant to air pollution and suitable for urban plantings. This is a good plant for bird gardens.

Value to Songbirds
Downy Serviceberry produces small purple pome fruits in late summer. It attracts at least 19 species that eat the fruit of serviceberry plants, including the hairy woodpecker.

Forcing/Cutting For Display Indoors
Budded Serviceberry branches will bloom indoors as early as February. However, the closer they are to their normal bloom time, the faster they will bloom prematurely indoors. Cut stems on a mild day. The more swollen the buds, the sooner they will open in the warmth of the house. To maintain a pleasing natural shape for the tree, choose branches that the tree will never miss. The longer the selected branches the more flowers there will be. Long stems are also more versatile for indoor arrangements.

Once indoors, cut off the ends of the branches for a fresh cut, slit the woody ends to help them absorb water, and immediately immerse them in warm water to soak for 3 to 4 hours. Strip off any leaves that will be underwater, then place them in a dimly lit, cool place until the buds begin showing color.

Change the water periodically. When you see some color in the buds, arrange the Serviceberry branches in a vase with fresh water. Add some commercial floral preservative or some citrus-based carbonated soda (non-diet) to the water to prolong their freshness when the flowers open. Bring them into a bright room where they can be appreciated. These blooms should last about a week and lift winter weary spirits.

If you choose to wait until they bloom outdoors to bring some in, cut the branches just as the buds are showing color. Put them in water as described above. Display them alone, or combined with spring bulb flowers such as early tulips, daffodils and other flowering shrubs such as forsythia and Serviceberry. For more information see the file on Keeping Cut Flowers and Cut Flower Supplies

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