Growing Forsythia Shrubs For Lasting Beauty In The Garden

If you are searching for a shrub that will add beauty to your grounds the summer through, plant forsythia – plenty of them. This floral bush is one of the earliest of all spring-blooming shrubs, its yellow, bell-shaped flowers preceding its leaves.

flowering Forsythia ShrubsPin

Forsythia blooms in such profusion it resembles a ball of sunlight even on the dullest days. Its slender leaves appear as the flowers are about to fade, and remain well into fall, turning from dark green to beautiful shades of purple and deep olive.

All varieties of forsythia do well in full sun or partial shade and grow easily in practically all soils and climates.

Three varieties of forsythia are especially popular. These are: ‘Golden Bell’ (another name for Forsythia intermedia spectabilis) ‘Lynwood Gold,’ and ‘Spring Glory.’

The ‘Golden Bell’ is the more common kind, and is, at present, the most used variety.

  • It blooms lavishly
  • Is easily satisfied with soil conditions
  • Withstands a reasonable amount of hot sun and drought, Has few, if any, insect pests.

Although the forsythia ‘Golden Bell’ is hardy in the extremely cold regions around the lakes, its buds sometimes Freeze if the winters are too severe. Freezing of the buds, of course, results in little or no bloom in spring.

For colder areas in the Dakotas, Minnesota, Michigan, Maine or wherever winters are severe, an entirely new strain of Forsythia has been developed. It is the beautiful ‘Lynwood Gold.’ It can withstand subzero temperatures with no fear of its buds or wood freezing.

Forsythia has everything a homeowner would want in a tree – large, beautiful, deep yellow, bell-shaped flowers; sturdy branches that stand up under heavy snows, and dense foliage that adds beauty to the lawn all summer. It need not be confined only to the north, but will do well in all parts of the country.

‘Spring Glory’ is a fairly new variety. It differs from the common `Golden Bell’ in that it produces larger blooms of a more delicate yellow coloring. It may flower a bit earlier, and blooms in such profusion that it looks almost compact when in flower.

It does well in all sections except the extreme north and will thrive in all kinds of soil. ‘Spring Glory’ is such a beauty that, I believe, in time it will replace ‘Golden Bell.’

All strains of forsythia, in general, are versatile shrubs. They care not what you do to them. They can be trained to grow flat against a wall; they will do well-trimmed into a hedge, or they can easily be trimmed into a formal ball or fan shape.

Most varieties grow from four to six feet tall, but can be kept lower. Some nurseries carry a dwarf (two-foot) kind, and also a weeping type. Regardless of size, their blooming ability will not be hampered.

Blooms can be expected around the middle April, depending upon location. They are breath-taking when set off by early-blooming tulips of deep red or purple.


Even though forsythia is not fussy as to climate and soil, it does require some attention at planting time. Like all plants, its future depends upon the kind of start it receives.

Order plants early to be assured of good stock. If the weather takes a turn for the worse when your shrubs arrive, heel them in somewhere in your garden. Set out as soon as weather permits.

Dig a hole large and deep enough to house the roots without crowding or bending. Place the rich topsoil on one pile to be used directly over the roots. The subsoil can be placed in another pile and used later to fill in the hole.

Should soil lack organic matter replenish it with three handsful of aged or dehydrated manure. Bone meal and a tree fertilizer may also be used. One handful of each is enough. Mix fertilizer well with the soil in the bottom of the hole, then cover with several inches of dirt.

Trim off broken or dead roots and those that are too long. Plant the shrub as deep as it was at the nursery. Half fill the hole with topsoil, jogging the plant so the earth works in around the roots. Stomp the soil firmly, then pour in a pail of water. Let settle, then fill the remaining hole.


After planting if your shrub has not been pruned at the nursery, cut it back. Trim all branches to 18″ inches of the crown. Crossing or rubbing twigs should be removed.

As the shrub grows older, trim it back once a year after blooms drop. If adult forsythia bushes are not cut back, they eventually will cease blooming. Blooms appear only on new wood. When long branches are pruned off in spring, side buds burst, sending forth new branches that will bloom the following year.

An annual application of a tree fertilizer or garden fertilizer will keep the shrub growing at its best. Apply it early in spring after ground thaws.

By Betty Brinhart | Edits by PlantCareToday Staff

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