Forsythia is one of the most popular of the spring flowering shrubs – so much so that some people class them as weeds! If you see a shrub with a mass of bright golden flowers in mid spring - March to April - is almost certainly one of the Forsythia group of deciduous shrubs.
They are very easy to grow in virtually any garden soil, and also withstand a bit of a dry spell in the summer.
The only drawback with the Forsythia, is the fact that once it has provided its mass of flowers, you are left with a nondescript green foliage shrub through until autumn, when the foliage takes on its autumn colours for a short time. The autumn foliage is attractive and can range from yellow through to orange, but with yellow being the predominant colour.
Most of the Forsythia group of shrubs - there are several popular types - can grow to around 2.4m tall though 1.8m is normal. It will have a similar spread - given to the space. Forsythia is quite quick growing to semi-maturity - in 3-4 years. Most of the Forsythias grow reasonable erect as shrubs, though there are a few that have arching stems – even hanging.
My first memory of Forsythia, is of my mother returning from the vicinity of the 'posh' house, with a few twigs of Forsythia in bud, after she had 'pruned' the bits that overhung the footpath! These were placed in a jar and held pride of place on the sideboard - giving weeks of bright yellow 'cut flowers'!
Forsythias grow and flower well in full sunshine or light, though they will tolerate and put on a good show in dappled shade. It is the perfect back of border shrub, with most of its flowers on the top half of the shrub. They are the ideal shrub for lightening up a dark corner of the garden in the spring flowering season – with a dark background to set off the masses of golden bell flowers.
Forsythia are well suited to growing as a colourful hedge, though a little bit sparse at ground level. This can be overcome with a suitable planting of naturalized bulbs, or even Lavenders or Heathers. They clip well and can be restrained to a hedge of no more than a meter high if required.
For a taller hedge, the variety of Forsythia suspense is a good choice. It can be side clipped, but leave the top branches to arch over in the spring – full of flowers. Prune these off right after flowering.
Pruning of forsythia is quite simple, though if you do it at the wrong time, you will have no flowers the following spring.
You can plant forsythias in any garden soil – lime, neutral or slightly acid. Though they tolerate dry sites, they also respond well with their growth in a moist be well drained area. Full sun, or woodland shade are acceptable choices of planting positions.
Propagation of Forsythia is quite easy with semi-ripe cuttings, or simply a 30cm length of stem inserted into garden soil during the autumn or early winter. This needs to be ripened current season growth.
No pests to worry about with Forsythia. They are generally trouble free, though they are sometimes affected with honey fungus if it is prevalent in the area.
Types of Forsythia |