Forsythia Shrub Care – How To Care For Your Forsythia Plant
By: Heather Rhoades
A forsythia plant (Forsythia spp) can add dramatic flair to a yard in the early spring. Forsythia bushes are among the first plants of spring to burst forth in flower and in order to get the most from their brilliant yellow flowers, you need to make sure that you take proper care of forsythia in your yard. Keep reading to learn more about forsythia shrub care.
Basic Care of Forsythia
While forsythia bushes are easy to care for, there are a few things you can do to help them perform their very best for you.
First thing for forsythia shrub care is that forsythias enjoy full sun. Make sure your forsythia bush gets at least six hours of sunlight a day. While it can tolerate less than this, your forsythia’s ability to flower will be reduced if it does not get full sun.
Next, forsythias need to be grown in well draining soil. Overly wet, marshy or swampy soil will not grow well. Also, the soil should be rich in organic matter. Mulching around your forsythia shrub will make sure that moisture is retained in the soil, weeds are kept down under the shrub and that new organic material has a chance to work its way into soil that the forsythia plant is growing in.
While forsythia bushes like well-draining soil, they also grow best of watered regularly. Forsythias should receive at least 2 inches (5 cm.) of water a week. If enough rain does not fall to provide this amount of water, you can supplement with water from the hose. But, if you are worried about water conservation, forsythia plants can tolerate periods of decreased watering.
You should also fertilize when caring for forsythia. Use a balanced fertilizer once every two to three months in the spring and summer. Do not fertilize them in the fall and winter.
Good care of forsythia also requires that forsythia bushes should be pruned yearly. Without pruning, these fast growing shrubs can quickly get overgrown. The best time to prune forsythia shrubs is right after the forsythia has finished blooming.
The care for forsythia bushes is easy but necessary. With proper forsythia shrub care, your forsythia plant will reward you with a brilliant display of yellow flowers in the spring.
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Read more about Forsythia
Plant Profile: Forsythia
Forsythias are having a banner year. If you’re blessed to drive on rural roads where every old farmhouse has forsythias in full, glorious bloom currently, then you’re likely asking yourself, why don’t I have a forsythia? The answer is a practical one. Space. One-show wonders. A growth rate that out-paces mating bunnies. A pruning nightmare.
Forsythia is often called the harbinger of spring because their golden-yellow stems stand out against bright, blue skies early in March. The good news is that they’re easy to grow (and easier to prune than you think—read on) and the even better news is that dwarf varieties exist. (‘Show Off Starlet’ is 3’ x 3’). They handle most growing conditions, and deer leave them alone. They serve well as hedges, particularly in areas where you need some privacy (no they are not evergreen, but they do camouflage well), and add early color to drab perennial beds. Yes, they are one-show wonders, and they don’t give what we gardeners demand—bloom, bloom, bloom—or four-season interest, but they announce spring spectacularly, and those spikes of sunshine are a balm for the soul after a long, dreary winter.
Here are your growing tips and full permission to go for it. Your garden needs it. You need it.
Forcing forsythia blooms in late January or early February is a rite of passage for many gardeners. Here’s the how to on bringing a bit of spring indoors in winter.
Ideal Growing Conditions for Forsythias
Understanding the correct growing conditions for forsythias will help them to thrive for many years. Forsythias are relatively low-maintenance shrubs. But improper growing conditions can have a negative effect on any plant species.
Below you will find the best growing conditions for forsythia shrubs.
USDA Hardiness Zones: 4-9
Forsythias are cold hardy. But in regions where the winter temperature drops below zero degrees, there is a risk that the forsythia will lose its flower buds.
Sun/shade exposure: Forsythias prefer full sun or part shade. Full sun, six or more hours per day, often leads to the most consistent blooms.
- Acidic to Alkaline
- Not excessively wet
- Somewhat drought tolerant
- Somewhat tolerant of poor soils
Other climate factors: Forsythias enjoy regions with mild temperature ranges. They survive in some cold climates, but average temperatures in the 60s and 70s are best. They also like regions with some humidity.
But failing to meet these conditions does not mean your forsythia will fail to grow. These temperatures and humidity levels simply represent the ideal ranges for forsythias.
If you wish to propagate more forsythia plants, you can simply take a stem cutting, root it, and transplant it wherever you wish. You also can allow the parent plant to spread on its own. When a branch makes contact with the soil, it will often put down roots on the spot, creating a new shrub.
To root a cutting, take a 4- to 10-inch long stem cutting after flowering is completing and when the shrub has leaves. Remove the bottom leaves, then plant the cutting in a moistened mixture of peat moss, perlite, and sand. Roots will grow from the buried nodes.
Mist the cuttings daily until the roots are about 1 inch in length, which will take at least a month. At this point, transplant the cuttings into individual pots for continued growing. Grow the plant in a pot in a controlled outdoor environment for one or two seasons before planting it in a garden location.
Pin these tips on planting forsythia for later
If you would like a reminder of this post for planting forsythia, just pin this image to one of your Gardening Boards on Pinterest.
Admin note: This post for tips on when and how to plant forsythia first appeared on the blog in March of 2018. I have updated the post to add more tips, additional photos, a printable project card and a video for you to enjoy.
Maintenance Level: 2
Low maintenance is key for forsythias.
Prune after blooming as they bloom on old wood. The intent of pruning is to maintain size and clear out interior stems for greater sunlight and air circulation. They can be rejuvenated pruned by cutting the shrub down to 3” to reduce size and clean-up. The blooms will be sacrificed for a couple of years, but forsythia responds well to this type of pruning.
No need to fertilize as they prefer less and too much nitrogen makes for a lot of green growth and fewer blooms.
They are drought tolerant but as with all new plantings, watering consistently the first season is crucial to establish the plant. After it is established, it is drought resistant.
Relatively insect and disease-resistant, after blooming, pruning is all that is required, if needed.
Plant now and next year enjoy your spring harbinger!
Written by Cinthia Milner, garden coach, and blog writer.
B. B. Barns Garden Center serves all of Western North Carolina, upstate South Carolina, and Tennessee.