Monday, April 18, 2011

Gardening 101: Taking care of Forsythias - Spring is here!

Forsythias in bloom

I love Forsythia shrubs as they are my natural clocks that tell me Spring is here!! I also love the wild crazy ones that are allowed to develop as nature intended instead of pruned like a box. I have a huge wall of forsythia by a fence in my backyard. It is about 8 feet tall.  I love the nice yellow flowers that talk to me about warm days ahead.

Unfortunately, the flowers do not last too long and after they are gone it is time for pruning. Forsythia flowers grow in the new wood from the year before, so it is important to prune it during the spring so you can get new wood growth bearing flowers the following year. If you prune it too late (past mid June) you will be effectively pruning your flowers and will not have a nice display the following spring.

I like to prune my forsythias so they still look natural and wild. To do so, I first cut all the dead wood I can see as far down and close to the ground as possible. Once that is done, you are left with your "alive" branches. Selectively cut about a third of the branches as far down as you can (if you want your forsythia shrub to grow higher cut only half way) - this is one in every 3 branches. Do this artistically, try to cut branches that are crisscrossing each other, that are too bunched up, try to get some symmetry going on. Remember to always use sharp clean tools.

See the big long branches on top
If you can and want - cut a little of the growth at the top of your forsythia shrub so you can keep it at a certain height - I do not reach the top of mine so they keep going up!!! But I kind of like it like that.

Please remember not too prune it too much (no more than a third of the branches). If in doubt, cut less and be conservative.

As soon as I prune my forsythias this year I will post some photos so stay tuned.

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