Forsythia

Forsythia yellow flowers

A simple, undemanding shrub, that provides an abundance of bright cheery yellow flowers in spring. Forsythia is vigorous bushy plant, ideal for the medium to large sized garden.

Family: Oleaceae (Olive)
Botanical Name: Forsythia
Common Names: Golden Bells

Foliage: Deciduous, simple, fresh bright green leaves.

Flowers: Short tubular star-shaped yellow flowers, borne along the long stems before the leaves appear

Flowering Period: Late winter to mid spring.

Soil: Any moist but well-drained soil (chalk, clay, sand or loam). Any pH.

Conditions: Full sun or partial shade. Can be grown in any aspect, in a sheltered or exposed location.

Habit: Tall, bushy, fast growing.

Type: Large to medium sized shrub.

Hardiness: Hardy in most regions of the UK.

Planting and Growing Forsythia

Trouble free and very easy to grow. Plant outside in early autumn. Container grown plants can be planted out at any reasonable time of year.

Grow in an open sunny position in any good, well drained, moderately fertile garden soil. Give it full sun for the best show of flowers.

Forsythia can be a rather dull looking once the flowers have faded. So plant it at the back of a border where it can be appreciated in spring but disguised by other plants in summer.

Makes a reasonable deciduous flowering hedge or screen.

Budded branches can be cut in February, brought inside and placed in a vase of water, where they will blossom early.

Taking Care of Forsythia

Water thoroughly during dry weather until well established. Mulch with organic matter in spring and apply a general fertilizer suitable for shrubs.

Pruning Forsythia

Prune just after flowering by removing some of the old wood. If it gets out of hand it can be cut back hard but will take a couple of years to fully recover and flower.

Pests and Diseases

Can be affected by galls and honey fungus.

Propagating Forsythia

Strikes readily from hardwood or semi-hardwood cuttings or by layering in the autumn.

Popular Varieties of Forsythia Grown in the UK

The main species F. x intermedia can grow up to 13ft (4m) high but there are several more compact hybrids suitable for the smaller garden.

Forsythia x intermedia is a superb shrub for the larger border or as a specimen plant. Cultivar 'Lynwood' is an excellent flowering form. RHS Award of Garden Merit (AGM). Available from Thompson & Morgan. Cultivar 'Spring Glory' is very free-flowering and 'Arnold Giant' is a more vigorous form with large flowers. For deep yellow flowers choose 'Beatrix Farrand'.

Forsythia x intermedia 'Spectabilis' is a very popular variety with strong growth and lovely golden yellow flowers. Ideal for hedging. Height to 10 ft (3m), spread to 6ft (1.8m). Available from Thompson & Morgan.

Forsythia ovata 'Tetragold' is an early flowering, slower growing, form with large flowers. Height to 5ft (1.5m). Cultivar 'Arnold Dwarf' is a more vigorous, compact, low-spreading form. Height to 3ft (60cm), spread to 6ft (1.8m).

Forsythia suspensa (weeping forsythia) is a slender shrub with long arching branches, suitable for training as a climber. Supported height to 10ft (3m) or more.

Forsythia viridissima 'Bronxensis' is a compact broadleaf form with pale yellow flowers. Height to 1.5ft (50cm), spread to 3.5ft (1m).