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» Articles » Plants » Forsythia: Spring Showers Bring Golden Flowers

Forsythia: Spring Showers Bring Golden Flowers

by Douglas L. Bishop on 8/25/2008 19:08

A profusion of yellow bell-shaped blossoms on flowing stems creates enough golden arches in your garden to make even Ronald MacDonald jealous!

And, golly gee, Mr. Wilson, is forsythia ever easy to grow; no green thumb necessary for this carefree show-off. Just plant it and jump back.

Not only is the forsythia a real workhorse, getting the job done of providing a generous showing of arching branches laden with truckloads of beautiful golden yellow blooms, it’s also a real racehorse, sprinting out of the gate as soon as the roots hit the dirt and bursting forth in your garden in record time.

But, seriously folks, just what does it take to grow forsythia? Soil, of course, but almost any soil will do as long as it’s not extremely compacted. And sunlight too, either full sun or partial shade. Plant it, water it, and you’re in business. No need to purchase a large plant to set into your garden, either; forsythia grows so quickly you can buy a small one (for a correspondingly small price) and have a nice-sized flowering shrub in your yard in just a season or two.

The forsythia makes a great stand-alone specimen planting which you can locate almost anywhere in your garden; or plant several of them to create an informal hedge that blooms every spring. Prune your forsythias soon after the blooms fade, as this spring-flowering beauty will begin to form next season’s bloom buds in the late spring or early summer and you don’t want to rob yourself of next year’s explosion of gold.

And, as you prune, go lightly and carefully, taking off just enough to keep your plant from looking like a wild child. Remove any damaged or weak shoots from within the plant to maintain vigor; and if you are growing a hedge, never shear it; just cut back selected shoots to shape the overall structure to the height and width you desire. Remember that mature forsythia plants can reach up to 12 feet in height and up to 10 feet in width, so don’t wait until your plants have gotten completely out of hand to begin reining them in with the shears.

Dwarf varieties of forsythia are sometimes available at your garden center. Many of these reach heights of only 4 feet or less, so be attentive to what you are buying and to the height and spread specifications of the plant as related to where you plan to locate your forsythias within your landscape. Never plant a regular forsythia closer than 8 or 10 feet to a walkway or driveway, or it may spread into unwelcome territory! Remember that the forsythia will spread by underground stems and by taking root where its arching branches touch the ground.

If you desire to propagate the plant yourself, this is easily done in the mid-summer by cuttings or by digging up and relocating shoots which have sprung up from those aforementioned underground stems and ground-touching arched branches.

So that’s a pretty good summary of what forsythia can do in your home landscape. Now, don’t go nuts planting forsythia bushes all over your grounds, but a few placed here and there will indeed add a touch of color and friendly familiarity, not unlike those golden arches we talked about earlier.

And, to take our simile even further, the forsythia does have more of a homey, relaxed-café attitude than a stiff, ritzy-restaurant feel. (Wow, Junior, that’s a stretch; please explain what the heck that means before this page catches on fire!!)

Well, the forsythia is an unpretentious, undemanding, low-cost, simple beauty that explodes in yellow blossoms in the early spring. Its soft green foliage is vigorous and dense, though not overly showy. It asks for little but gives back a lot.

Okay, I get it, but now I’m hungry for a hamburger! Let’s close up here and go eat.


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