You know Forsythia, although you may not realize it! It’s that skinny, scraggly, bushy stuff that starts to glow with sunny yellow blooms at about this time of the year. Here in Kentucky, it started blooming about a week ago, and is found in some odd places.
My favorites are the bushes that suddenly pop into view from a woodland edge, or in the middle of a field (usually with Daffodils around). The incongruity of a beautiful gold-laden shrub against the somber backdrop of trees that aren’t even in leaf yet can be stunning, and it certainly raises my spirits just to see it.
When it’s put into a landscape as a hedge, it’s absolutely breathtaking in bloom! Even a single small shrub in a surrounding lawn makes a cheerful statement at this time of year. As Winter seems to drag on into Spring, any bit of brightness is welcome.
Forsythia is actually a member of the olive family (Oleaceae), and none of the species are native to the US. If you want to plant some in your yard or as a hedge, now is a great time! Install your hedge in full sun and well-drained soil, with each plant about four to six feet away from the next, and sit back and wait for next Spring.
Another reason to plant Forsythia is that bees love these flowers on early Spring days when few other options for pollen are available. Lots of other pollinators depend on the fast-blooming Forsythia for a much-needed pick-me-up as well, such as bumblebees, wasps flies and butterflies.
When you’re choosing your plants, make sure that you read the descriptions! Some Forsythia varieties can reach ten feet tall and twelve feet wide, and can easily begin a dramatic takeover of your yard in just a couple of years. There are cultivars that are compact, but you have to look.
Prune your Forsythia shrubs right after flowering finishes, and try to remove the older branches right at the base, thinning out rather than going for a sheared look. Next year, you can “force” blooms in your kitchen by cutting branches in early January all the way to late February. Bring them in and place in water, wait around ten days, and you’ll be rewarded with an extra early sunny blast!
Forsythia can be cut and rooted, too, so if you want to build up a hedge you can always do it this way. It’ll take a few years, but will reward you with a wall of golden beauty for many years after your hard work!
If you’re wanting to grow Forsythia from cuttings, the best time to take them is in Spring, as soon as the leaves burst from their buds. Clean your clippers with alcohol first, and then trim several four to six inch new growth stems from your shrub. Wrap them in damp newspaper and keep in a dark cool area if you can’t put them in your rooting medium right away.
Use a half and half mix of perlite and peat moss that’s nice and moist. Then, trim off the bottom leaf buds for about three inches and insert the stem into your pot or container. Cover the whole thing with a plastic bag, a clear plastic soda bottle with the bottom removed, or plastic warp. Keep them in indirect light so they don’t cook! Your cuttings should root and be ready to pot up in four to six weeks.
Forsythia only flowers for a couple of weeks, three at most, so its sunny, golden beauty is quick to pass. But because it is one of the earliest plants to flower, it will remain a favorite in gardens and landscapes all across North America!
As always, please email me at FlamingPurpleJellyfish@gmail.com with questions, comments or corrections. I LOVE to hear from you! God Bless and have a FABULOUS day!
Sources: http://www.Gardeningknowhow.com, homeguides.sfgate.com