Growing Forsythia - An Early Spring Warning System
Growing the Forsythia shrub isn't all that tricky.
Put it in the full sun, out of the biting cold, winter wind and let
'er rip. Well, maybe you need a few other thoughts on this wonderful
spring blooming shrub. Here are a few more details.
Full sunshine. The more sun you give forsythia, the more likely you are
to get a full bloom. It is adaptable to most soils including a heavier
soil but it does not appreciate being waterlogged.
Feed a shovel or two of compost in the spring. Excess feeding will
promote excessively soft growth.
Height at maturity 8-10 feet tall. Width to 10 feet.
Description: an upright rank, open grower (not a compact shrub by any
means) Canes are upright and stretching.
Flowers are not fragrant but come in various shades of yellow in very
early spring before leaves appear.
First, it is almost unkillable by pruning so beginners should not worry
about hurting this plant.
It should be pruned immediately after blooming. Old wood can be removed
and the shrub pruned to shape. A total renovation would simply cut this
plant off a ground level immediately after blooming and it will
resprout quite handily immediately.
While the bush itself is hardy into USDA zone 4, the blooms are only
hardy into zone 5. It is quite common in colder areas to not have
blooms on tender varieties or to have them *below* the snow line.
If you live in a warmer climate and suddenly your forsythia bush stops
blooming, then there are two thoughts (normally). The first is that
you've somehow over-fertilized your shrub and it is producing lots of
new growth at the expense of flower buds. The second thought is that
you pruned it too late in the season and have pruned off the buds.
Remember that this plant should be pruned immediately after flowering
and any pruning 4-6 weeks after that will stop bloom the following
There is an off chance that very old shrubs have lost enough vigor in
their branches that they can't produce a blossom. The cure for this is
to cut the entire shrub to the ground in the very early spring. (just
after the time when they should have bloomed but didn't).
You can do them from seed if you can harvest some but they are very
easy from tip cuttings. Take 3-5 inch tender tip cuttings when the new
growth is young and pliable. These root fairly quickly.
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Folks this is a big shrub. While most gardeners put it in their
foundation planting, at 10-feet tall, it really doesn't belong in
front of the living-room window. Put this shrub out in the yard as a
screen or fast-growing hedge.
For those who live in cold climates, search out ‘Northern Gold'. This
variety was bred in Ottawa, Canada for cold climates and will reliably
flower in a zone 4.
When the forsythia bloom, it's time to apply corn gluten to the lawn and gardens to stop annual seeds from germinating.
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