Forsythia – Care, Growing, Watering, Flowering, Propagation

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Forsythia shrubs have many advantages like fast growth, ease of care, beautiful blooms and low maintenance.

The forsythia blooms in early spring with blooms appearing sooner than leaves, creating a shrub that is in full bloom without any leaves to get in the way.

Although there aren’t any difficulties in cultivating the forsythia, the plant care tips I discuss below will make sure you get the best out of this dazzling shrub.

Forsythia Plant Care Tips

The forsythia attracts pollinators such as bees and butterflies, making it not only a beautiful presence in your garden, but also a useful one.

Below, you can learn about the requirements of forsythia plants, including the best soil and forsythia watering requirements.

Plant Size

At its mature size, the forsythia stands around 2 to 10 feet tall, depending on variety. Some varieties will grow taller, others will stay on the small side.

In terms of spread, the forsythia usually becomes as wide as it is tall, so make sure to take its spread into consideration when picking out a good spot for your forsythia in your garden.

Light Requirements

Speaking of a good spot, the forsythia likes full sun to partial shade. Pick a location for your plant that offers at least 6 hours of direct sun exposure per day.

Anything less than that will cause it to produce fewer blooms.

Watering

The forsythia can handle a bit of drought once it’s an established plant.

Normally, it requires moderately moist soil, so watering may be needed in extremely hot weather, especially if the forsythia is not yet established.

The takeaway? Watering your forsythia regularly until it becomes established and watering in extended periods of drought are the only two occasions when extra watering is necessary.

Temperature & Humidity

Forsythias thrive in 55 to 75 F weather. They can tolerate cold, unless the temperature in winter drops below -5 F. This can damage the shrub’s ability to produce flowers in spring.

Humidity levels for the forsythia should be average. They prefer slightly humid conditions and do poorly both in excess humidity and dry conditions.

The plant has a tendency to wilt in very dry weather and stop flowering in humid conditions.

Soil Type

The best soil for forsythias is well draining soil rich in organic matter.

Adding mulch around the soil of forsythias will ensure a nutrient-rich environment and add some moisture, which is especially good in dry areas.

Too much moisture or swampy soil is not good for forsythias.

Fertilizing

Fertilizing should be introduced only after the forsythia is around a year old.

Fertilize only in spring and summer using a balanced fertilizer every 2-3 months.

Potting & Repotting

Some forsythia varieties are great for growing in containers as well such as the Forsythia ‘Courtasol’, which stays as 1-2 feet tall.

Make sure the soil in the container drains fast and is rich in organic matter. Keep the soil slightly moist.

You can transfer the forsythia in the garden once it’s strong enough or repot in a larger container if it’s starting to spread.

Forsythia Plant Propagation

Forsythia plants can be propagated from seeds, from stem cuttings and through layering.

Propagating from seeds is the most time-consuming, while propagating from stem cuttings or layering are the easiest.

If propagating from stem cuttings, simply take 4-6 inch stems from the year’s fresh growths and plant them in a pot with well-draining and moistened soil.

You can dip the stem cutting into rooting hormone to encourage faster rooting.

Cover the pot with a clear plastic wrap and keep the soil moist. Keep in a warm location but out of direct sunlight.

In about 6-8 weeks, you can expect the stem cuttings to form roots.

Layering is also an easier way to propagate the forsythia.

You can wait for layering to happen by itself. This usually happens when the stems of the forsythia touch the ground and produce roots. Or you can layer it yourself.

For layering, fill a large pot with soil, pick a long stem and scrape it with a knife on the part that you’ll bury into the pot at about 2 inches deep, making sure the tip of the stem stays out.

To hold the stem in place, use a stone or bend a nail to fix the stem in the soil.

If the soil is kept moist, roots will begin to form, and you can cut away the new forsythia from the mother plant.

Forsythia FAQs

This FAQ on forsythia will answer questions related to toxicity of forsythia, pruning and other aspects related to its care.

Is the forsythia toxic to pets?

The forsythia is a pet-friendly plant that does not cause toxicity if your pooch decides to take a bite of the yellow blooms of this shrub.

Do I need to prune forsythia shrubs?

Pruning isn’t necessary when it comes to forsythia shrubs, unless you want to give it a more defined shape.

Without pruning, the forsythia will grow randomly in all directions, so you may want to prune it each year.

Schedule your annual pruning right after the plant has finished blooming.

Start by cutting back on older branches, diseased branches, and select a few newer growths that have grown in a pattern that doesn’t work for you.

If it’s not important to you that your forsythia grows neatly, you can go without pruning for several years.

Are there different forsythia varieties?

There are multiple forsythia varieties. Some have a better tolerance to cold, others have larger blooms, stay shorter or have a better pest and disease resistance.

Notable varieties include the Forsythia x intermedia ‘Meadowlark’ (better at resisting pests and diseases), Forsythia x intermedia ‘Sunrise’ (has a better tolerance to cold), Forsythia ‘Courtasol’ (dwarf variety), Forsythia x intermedia ‘Kolgold’ (has more impressive blooms).

Conclusion

The forsythia is a pet-friendly and easy-care shrub with a good ornamental value. You can plant it in your garden as a centerpiece or a backdrop to other plants.

While it has some specific light and soil requirements, overall, it’s a low maintenance plant with a lot to offer.

Updated: July 22, 2020

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