Forsythia - Garden Basics - Flower - Perennial
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Plant Information Type: perennial
Light: sun or light partial shade
Flower Color: yellow
Height: as little as 1 foot for dwarf, 8-10 feet for standard
Width: 4-10 feet
Soil Requirements: almost any soil, well-drained
Uses: Shrub hedge, espalier, cutting, woodland settings
Forsythia's yellow flowers add a burst of color to the late winter or early spring landscapes. Branches can be picked in midwinter and forced into bloom indoors, making it one of the earliest of cut flowers. The plants vary in size from dwarf varieties that grow only a foot tall to shrubs that reach 8-10 feet in height. The plants can quickly get out of bounds if not pruned regularly, but when given enough room to grow without pruning, they take on a graceful appearance. They make an excellent informal shrub border, and taller varieties can be espaliered or trained into shapes against a wall. They tolerate poor growing conditions and city life well.
Forsythias thrive in zones 5-9 in almost any type of soil. They do will in full sun or light shade. For hedges, space plants 4 to 6 feet apart.
Flowers form on the previous year's growth rather than new growth, so prune as soon as the flowers have faded. Cut back about a third of the stems that are more than four years old to within four inches of the ground.
Propagating forsythia over winter is easy. Just make a small wound in a stem at the point where it is about the thickness of a pencil, and fasten the wounded section of stem in a pot filled with potting soil. Don't detach the stem from the main plant until spring when the pot has filled with roots. You can also take softwood cuttings of new growth in late spring or early summer, or semihardwood cuttings in mid or late summer.
Shrubs are among the most versatile of garden plants. They can fill the landscape with color, shape, and texture all year long, with flowers in the spring, lovely foliage in the summer, and berries and bright leaves autumn. They even add shape and texture to the winter garden. Although this bulletin deals mainly with flowering shrubs, the wealth of information can be applied to most any shrub.