Gardening Guide Forsythias
Nothing announces the arrival of spring like the spectacular sight of hundreds of small yellow flowers on a forsythia bush. As soon as temperatures begin to rise, these bushes burst into bloom and put on a show that usually lasts for weeks. These fast growing plants shoot up arching branches that result in a shrub 7 to 10 feet tall and wide. They are easy to grow, requiring only full sun and good drainage. Although you can buy forsythias at many locations, including grocery and discount stores, good garden centers and mail order nurseries sell varieties that offer better color, shape, and hardiness. Forsythias are easy to buy from online sites, as they are inexpensive and easy to ship.

Look for the following when buying forsythias:
  • Forsythias come in a range of colors from gold to bright to pale yellow. Look for varieties like 'Spring Glory' (bright) or 'Lynwood' and 'Spectabilis' (golden). 'Golden Times' also has yellow toned leaves.
  • Make sure you have room to grow the variety you are considering. Forsythia look best if they are allowed to grow naturally in their arching form, resulting in a fair size bush. Those with smaller spaces should think about growing varieties such as 'Goldtide,' a small, graceful, lemon colored type that only grows two feet. If you must have a larger forsythia, you can keep the plant in bounds by cutting the whole bush down to about 5 inches after it flowers. It will soon grow back to a good size.
  • Don't be tempted to use forsythias as a foundation planting, as you will have to do too much sheering to keep the plants in control. This means that you will be cutting off next year's flowers. Forsythias pruned into formal shapes are not effective. They can be planted as an informal, unclipped hedge or planted in masses on hillsides or along property borders.
  • Check to make sure the variety you want is cold hardy in your area. 'Meadowlark' and 'Northern Sun' do better in colder regions.
Remember that forsythia branches can be forced into bloom by cutting them and bringing them indoors several weeks before they bloom outside.

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