A Complete Guide to Forsythia

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Forsythia is undoubtedly one of the true heralds of Spring. Whilst it has been majorly overlooked in the UK, its golden-yellow glow-up has the potential to transform your landscape completely.

Understanding the varieties, pruning techniques and maintenance strategies will set you off a long way. Despite its easy-care nature, you need to take in a lot of things for it to work best. Think of it as a customization plan.

Read on as we unfold in detail, everything you need to know about Forsythia!

Why Forsythia?

Just to bring you up to speed, the shrub was named after the highly-acclaimed Scottish Botanist, William Forsyth for his tremendous research and discovery. Elsewhere, people refer to it as ‘Golden Bell’ or ‘Easter Tree’.

There are 11 main species of the deciduous plant, most which are native to Asia. Over the years, few species have been combined to come up with the hybrid Forsythia we have now.

In general, the plant grows up to 10 feet tall and 12 feet wide and is one of the most diverse plant ever. You can nurture it in an upright, rounded or mounded manner.

At the end of this you should be able to understand:

  • The various growth variations
  • General cultivation
  • Maintenance techniques
  • Uses of Forsythia

Types of Forsythia

From the 11 main species, there are many more hybrid types, all which have different adaptations. The only resemblance they have is the grey-brown barks. Some of them include: The Arnold Giant, Gold tide, White forsythia, Northern sun, Lynwood forsythia, among others.

To make things more concise, we will dwell on the two main types: The Weeping and Border Forsythia. Not only are they common to many, but available locally.

Weeping Forsythia

This is the shortest version of any forsythia shrub. At 1-3 metres, it is ideal for beautifying any yard, hedge, or reinforcing evergreen and deciduous shrubs. Moreover, its leaves are medium sized, with a length of 2-10 cm.

Initially, it was grown on stream banks but is currently prized all over Europe primarily because of its toughness. It blooms under the full sun or partial shade between April and May.  

Border Forsythia

As the name suggests, Border Forsythia is renowned for defining boundaries; thanks to its average 4-metre height. Not only is it the earliest to bloom among all forsythia species, but has the brightest flowers. This would be a better option if you need a more dramatic flair to your landscape.

Like most of its kind, it thrives in full or partial sunlight, but can withstand extreme temperature changes. Because of this, it is widely cultivated in homes, parks and gardens.

Cultivation and Nurturing

These glowing knockouts are adaptable to numerous environments and are quite easy to grow. Depending on your needs, you can opt to grow them as a hedgerow or as single plants. Needless to say, they are tolerant to different types of soil.

This, however, does not imply they can grow just anywhere:

Forsythia flourishes best in well-drained soils. Swampy, overly wet or marshy grounds will lead to late or no blooming at all. As a gardener, your pinnacle should be experiencing the beautiful bloom of this harbinger of Spring. As we shall see shortly, factors such as pruning methods could set you back a long way.

In as much as this prized plant can withstand prolonged dry spells, it should essentially receive at least 2 inches of water every week. We highly recommend that you supply water from a hose if the rain seems inconsistent.

When planting, ensure to expose the tree to sunlight as much as possible; 6 hours every day would do. The amount of sunlight, ultimately determines the nature of the flowers. Trust me! You don’t want discoloured or withered flowers.

Unfortunately, if you live in areas with little or no sunlight over prolonged periods, you could opt to use artificial light (though expensive), or plant other deciduous shrubs. 

Pruning and Trimming

One of the key reasons why a forsythia won’t bloom is improper pruning. Regardless, it is known to thrive more when neglected.

Therefore, you need to determine the layout you want to create. If you want a garden full of life, then let them loose and don’t worry about pruning for a couple of years. Though it’s always advisable to observe its spread.

On the other hand, if you need a neat compact hedge, then you definitely need to do some rigorous pruning. This simple process involves uprooting 1/4 of the old branches to let them grow afresh. In some cases, you could thoroughly uproot most of the branches to the core; but this is done to change the overall shape of your shrub.  

The perfect time to prune is immediately after displaying their unique flowers. Having in mind this crop takes a whole year to bring forth results, pruning too early or too late could lead to a poor display.

Other Uses of Forsythia

Aside from fortifying property and moulding hedges, forsythia is used as an ‘indoor bloom’. In simple terms, you can grow it indoors to enhance the glimmer amidst the dead winter mood.

This is done using a pruning shears or knife. After cutting off a branch that has buds on it, you should put it in a flower vase and add water. After 2-6 weeks, flowers should automatically sprout, given the amount of heat indoors. Most of the time, people place indoor blooms near windows to get sunlight, which acts as a stimulant.

Beyond gardening, it is used for medicinal purposes in Chinese herbal therapy. In other Asian countries, forsythia sticks are used to make musical instruments.

Additional Tips

On the whole, the following points should reinforce your understanding of forsythia:

  • They are contented in temperatures ranging from 55-70 degrees
  • Only use fertilizer after a year and a half; when your forsythia looks healthy enough
  • Ensure to use a balanced fertilizer once or twice a month, strictly during spring or summer only.
  • Place the plants where there is plenty of room since they have the tendency to spread rapidly.
  • Compared to using seeds, commercial propagation is a better method of planting, since the cuttings save you on time.
  • Mulching around the plant could help retain moisture in the soil and keep away weeds.


How should I mitigate stunted growth in forsythia?

First, ensure your environment meets all the conditions for growing forsythia. If the soil quality and drainage levels are correct, proceed to use bone meal or phosphorous. This will offset any high nitrogen in the nearby plants, which may be the main hindrance. When all fails, lop the whole plant and replant to rejuvenate the bloom.

Can forsythia bloom in severe weather conditions?

Yes, and no. It all depends on how you maintain the plant. In extremely dry conditions, water the shrub once or twice a week to keep it going. Contrary, drape it with horticulture cloth or burlap during cold seasons. Basically, observe the forecast and act accordingly.

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About Francesca Fitton 108 Articles
I have a passion for gardening and being outdoors. I blog about plant care, technology and tools that I love to use outside and invite you along to watch.

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