Forsythia: growing in the garden, species and varieties

Table of Contents

Forsythia bush-1 As soon as the snow melts, leafless shrubs covered with golden flowers appear in the cities of Western Europe. These heralds of spring are forsythia, or forsythia.

All species of the shrub are native to East Asia, and only European forsythia is found in the wild in Albania and on the territory of former Yugoslavia.

In our latitudes, forsythia has not yet gained wide popularity, but interest in it is steadily increasing. From our article you will learn many interesting facts about this plant, including:

  • when and how to plant forsythia in the garden;
  • How to care for this plant;
  • how to propagate it and protect it from diseases and pests.

Planting and care of forsythia

  • Planting: spring or early autumn.
  • Flowering: 10-14 days in early spring.
  • Lighting: bright sun or penumbra.
  • Soil: dry, slightly alkaline or neutral.
  • Watering: in a dry period 1-2 times a month. Water consumption is 10-12 liters per plant.
  • Fertilizing: 1st time in early spring with decomposed manure, 2nd time in April with a solution of full mineral fertilizer. The third feeding – after flowering by mineral fertilizers.
  • Pruning: sanitary pruning in early spring, forming pruning in summer after blossoming.
  • Propagation: vegetative propagation by green or woody cuttings, offshoots. Seed propagation is rarely used.
  • Pests: nematodes, aphids.
  • Diseases: moniliosis, bacteriosis, wilt, root rot.
Read more about growing forsythia below

Plant Forsythia (lat. Forsythia), or forsythia is a genus of small trees and shrubs of the Olive family, blooming in early spring with bright yellow flowers. The genus Forsythia is very ancient, and this is confirmed by the scattered natural habitat: six species of Forsythia grow in East Asia (Japan, Korea, China), while in Europe Forsythia flowers, represented by a single species Forsythia europaea, bloom mainly in the Balkans, although I was first struck by a flowering Forsythia in mid-March in Germany. Forsythia was named after William Forsyth, a Scottish botanist, chief gardener at Kensington Palace and one of the founders of the Royal Horticultural Society. It was Forsyth who brought the first forsythia bush to Europe from China.

Botanical Description

Forsythia, as already mentioned, is a small tree or shrub one to three meters tall. The bark has a coarse texture and a gray-brown tint. Some species have trifoliate leaves, but most Forsythia species have simple, leafless, opposite leaves, oval in shape with serrated edges and two to fifteen centimeters long. The bell-shaped flowers are bright yellow in color. Forsythia flowering begins in early spring and lasts up to three weeks, sometimes even longer. The fruit is a capsule with winged seeds.

Features of growing

Today it is impossible to imagine city streets, squares and private gardens in Europe without forsythia, and primarily because it is a symbol of the arrival of spring. On grey, still wintery streets, the yellow color of forsythia flowers suddenly bursts into flames and the city dwellers, longing for warmth and greenery, take heart and get ready for spring. Such early flowering of forsythia is a feature that distinguishes it from other shrubs. The undemanding care and location adds to its popularity. What are the features in care and cultivation of this popular shrub among flower growers?

  • Forsythia is light-loving, but it also grows in the shade.
  • The soil for the plant needs a limey soil.
  • Forsythia looks most effective against a background of dark green conifers.
  • In autumn the green leaves of the forsythia turn golden or purple-purple, and it again attracts attention with its bright mottled flame.

Planting forsythia

When to plant

Planting and transplanting forsythia is carried out in spring or early autumn, before frosts, so that the plant has time to take root before winter. Choose for this site protected from the wind in the sun or in the penumbra – forsythia though shade tolerant, but loves light. The plant is undemanding to the composition of the soil, but it grows best on slightly alkaline dry soils.

If the hydrogen indicator on the site is shifted to the acidic side, it is better to dig the soil with wood ash in advance.

Forsythia flowers-4 In the photo: Growing forsythia in the garden

How to plant

Pits for forsythia should be 50x50x60, so that the root ball after planting was at a depth of 30-40 cm. If you are planting several bushes, then dig holes for them at a distance of one and a half meters from each other. Before planting, it is necessary to fill the pits with a layer of drainage from broken bricks or crushed stone 15-20 cm thick, then a ten-centimeter layer of sand, then a mixture of leaf soil, sand and peat in the proportion 2:1:1 and 200 g of wood ash. Forsythia seedlings are lowered into the hole, buried in the soil, which is then necessarily compacted, and abundantly watered.

If forsythia is planted by you in the spring, then in the future it will require from you the usual care. Autumn planting and care for forsythia is a little more complicated: they require mandatory mulching of the site, regardless of the type of plant you planted. The covering material should be breathable, so that in winter during short thaws the flower buds do not wither under it.

Care of Forsythia

Care rules

The care of forsythia is not much different from the care of any garden bush. If there is sufficient precipitation in summer the plant does not need watering, but if the summer is dry then forsythia needs watering at least once or twice a month at the rate of 10-12 liters per shrub. After watering you need to loosen the soil and remove weeds, and loosen to a depth of the bayonet shovel to ensure air access to the plant roots. After loosening the bedding circle is mulched with compost or dry earth.

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Forsythia is fertilized three times a season: in early spring on the root circle, but not close to the branches and trunk, spread a thick layer of decomposed manure, then abundantly watered. The manure will become both mulch and organic nutrition for the plant. In April, a full mineral fertilizer at the rate of 60-70 g per 1 m² is applied to the soil. After flowering, when the plant lays the flower buds for the next year, Forsitia is fertilized with Kemira universal at the rate of 100-120 g per 1 m².

Forsythia plant-5 Pictured: Spring flowering of Forsythia.

Propagating forsythia

Forsythia is usually propagated vegetatively. For example, green cuttings about 15 cm long which are best cut in June. The lower leaves are removed and the cuttings are planted under the greenhouse in perlite or sand, pre-treated with a root-forming stimulant (with rhizobacteria, epin or heteroauxin).

It is possible to root and odnorezhevye cuttings cut in October, and plant them directly in the ground in the garden, leaving above the surface of two or three buds. You only need to cover the cuttings for the winter with dry leaves. In the spring, when you remove the cover, taken cuttings will grow, and by autumn you get beautiful seedlings.

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Propagate Forsythia also by grafts: in summer or autumn, bend the lower young shoot to the ground, pre-tie it at the base with a wire and cut the bark on the side that lies on the ground, fix it, sprinkle with fertile soil, and the shoot will very soon form roots. In the spring, cut this branch from the shrub, and the next year the young plant will flower.

Forsythia is also propagated generatively, that is, by seeds, but this is a conversation for experts.


Young bushes of forsythia are subjected to only sanitary pruning – remove frozen, withered or broken shoots. Adult plants in spring cut off the frosted ends of the branches, but the main pruning is done in summer when flowering is over: the faded branches are shortened by half, old and withered ones are cut 4-6 cm from the soil, and then the side shoots will come from them. Pruning also helps to regulate the density, height and shape of the bush – cup-shaped or ball-shaped.

If you need to rejuvenate your mature forsythia, it is best to cut all the branches back to a height of 4-6 cm or at least 2/3 of their height to encourage the young ones to grow. But do not overdo it, because it will make the bush grow bigger, but it will stop flowering. Rejuvenate forsythia, so it does not lose its decorative qualities, it is necessary not more often than every 3-4 years.

Pests and diseases

This shrub is resistant to both pests and diseases, but sometimes affected by wilt, moniliosis and bacteriosis. Fading is treated by spraying with a two to five percent solution Planting white turf, but there is no salvation from bacteriosis, and the bush will have to dig up together with the roots and destroy. Moniliosis is expressed by the appearance of brown spots on the leaves. In the case of the disease, it is necessary to cut out and clean all affected places to healthy tissue.

Forsythia can have troubles because of nematodes, then it is necessary to disinfect the soil with carbathion.

Forsythia after flowering and wilting

To protect forsythia from winter frosts, the root circle is covered with a ten-centimeter layer of dry leaves, the branches are ducked to the ground and pinned, and they are covered with lapdrop from above. In early spring, the cover is removed, the branches detach, dry leaves are removed from the trunk. Young plants for the winter completely covered with spruce branches. In snowy winters, Forsythia perfectly winters without shelter, but who knows in advance what kind of winter will turn out?

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Types and varieties

The most common species in culture in our latitudes – Forsythia europaea. This is a low (up to two meters) straight-growing shrub with full-edged oblong leaves up to 7 cm long. Its flowers are solitary, bell-shaped, golden yellow.

Forsythia giraldiana

Very similar to the European, but more sensitive to low temperatures. It is the same height, its stems are also mostly straight, but tetrahedral, yellow-brown in color. The leaves are elliptical, dark green, up to 10 cm long. Blossoms in May with large, elegant light yellow flowers with twisted petals.

Forsythia giraldiana-7 Pictured: Forsythia giraldiana

Forsythia suspensa (Forsythia suspensa)

A taller shrub, up to three meters tall with a spreading crown and arched, drooping, thin, tetrahedral branches which are reddish brown or olive in color. Leaves are simple on older shoots and trifoliate on younger ones. Flowers are large, up to 2.5 cm in diameter, golden-yellow, bunched up in groups of several. There are several cultivated forms of dangling Forsythia:

  • Mottled (forsythia variegata) – bright yellow flowers, yellowish mottled leaves;
  • Fortunea (forsythia fortunei), with narrow trifoliate leaves, dark yellow flowers gathered in bunches;
  • purple-stemmed (forsythia artocaulis) – with dark red shoots and leaves at the time of opening;
  • and others: forsythia Zimbold, forsythia deceptive, forsythia dangling Fortune.
Forsythia suspensa (Forsythia suspensa)-8 Pictured: Forsythia suspensa (Forsythia suspensa)

Forsythia dark green (Forsythia viridissima).

A tall, up to three meters tall, shrub with upward pointing green branches. Leaves are dense, simple, oblong-lanceolate, dentate at the top, very dark green, up to 15 cm long and 4 cm wide. Bright greenish-yellow flowers gathered in few bunches. Drought tolerant.

Forsythia dark green / Forsythia viridissima-9 Pictured: Dark green Forsythia viridissima.

Forsythia intermedia.

Is a hybrid of Forsythia lopsided and Forsythia dark green. Grows to a height of up to three meters and blossoms in the fourth year of life. Its leaves are oblong with a serrated edge but sometimes trifoliate, up to 10 cm long. The dark green color of the leaves remains until late fall. Bright yellow flowers are gathered in bunches of several. Blossoms in April and May. It is hardy, drought-resistant and grows very fast. Varieties:

  • Beatrix Farrand – the height of the bush up to 4 m, the flowers are bright yellow with dark yellow stripes at the base;
  • Densiflora – low bush up to one and a half meters tall and about the same in volume, the flowers are pale yellow, twisted. Blooms in May for two to three weeks. It is afraid of frost;
  • Spectabilis is one of the most beautiful varieties: the bush is only one meter tall, but the crown reaches 120 cm in diameter. Leaves are green in warm times, purple and bright yellow in autumn. Dark yellow flowers up to 4.5 cm in diameter bloom in late April.
Forsythia intermedia / Forsythia x intermedia-10 Photo: Forsythia intermedia (Forsythia x intermedia)

Forsythia snowy or white (Forsythia abeliophyllum).

Reaches a height of 1.5-2 m. The leaves are oval, up to 8 cm long, in summer the underside of the leaves turns purple. Flowers, as you can understand from the name, white, with a yellow yawn, in the buds gently pinkish.

Forsythia snow, or white / Forsythia abeliophyllum-11 In the photo: Forsythia snowy, or white (Forsythia abeliophyllum)

Forsythia ovata.

A small shrub, 1.5 to 2 meters tall. Branches spreading out, grayish-yellow. Leaves up to 7 cm long, bright green in summer, turning purple in fall. Single bright yellow flowers up to two centimeters in diameter. Blossoms before all other species of Forsythia, grows quickly, is winter-hardy and drought-resistant. Popular varieties:

Forsythia ovata-12 Pictured: Forsythia ovata
  • Spring Glory – tall up to three meters, green in the summer time the leaves become mottled in the fall – from pale yellow to dark purple. Blooms profusely in May with bright yellow large flowers;
  • Tetragold – a bush up to one meter tall, dark yellow flowers up to three centimeters in diameter. Blossoms from the middle of April;
  • Goldsauber – a valuable and very popular variety with large golden-yellow flowers. Frost-resistant. Blossoms from mid-April for about three weeks.


  1. Read about the subject on Wikipedia
  2. Features and other plants of the Olive family
  3. All Species List at The Plant List
  4. More information at World Flora Online