Plant Profile: Forsythia

This early spring-blooming shrub is a mainstay of area gardens and parks. Some people object to their bright yellow, relentless cheer, but we could not imagine a local springtime without them!

One of the best uses of this plant is en masse such as at Dumbarton Oaks in Washington, DC. That famous planting was designed by Beatrix Farrand.

After flowering, your forsythia should be cut down to 18-24 inches high and will then quickly grow back. This tough garden plant needs at least 6 hours of full sun for reliable flowering each year.
It likes well-draining soils enriched with organic matter. We recommend mulching around it each fall with partially composted leaves.

The shrub can reach 8 feet tall and 5 feet wide. If space is an issue in your garden, recent introductions like ‘Sunrise’ and ‘Gold Tide’ are more compact.

Forsythia is very easy to propagate. Often a branch will touch the ground and take root. Just cut that branch off from the mother-plant and dig up the roots to transplant it. You can also guide a branch down, place a rock on it, then come back a month or so later to check on if it has rooted yet.

If your Forsythia is not blooming early enough for you, cut a few branches in February and bring them indoors then place them in a tall vase filled with room temperature water to force them into flower.

While the yellow Forsythia is ubiquitous, did you know there is a related white forsythia and even a pink form?
Try planting a Forsythia bush in your garden today – you can grow that!


The video was produced by Washington Gardener Magazine and edited by intern Emily Coakley.
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