If you want to add a dash of gold to your garden, you need to consider the spring-flowering shrub, forsythia. I’m sure many of you are already familiar with the golden bell-shaped flowers that appear in early spring. You can see evidence of the shrub’s popularity and hearty nature at old home sites where long unattended forsythia still grow and bloom.
Forsythia has made great strides since it was first introduced to western gardens in the early 19th century. Modern hybrids are more floriferous and maintain a better shape. There are dwarf varieties too that stay under 30 inches.
The most important care advice I can give you about forsythia is about pruning. Forsythia is one of those shrubs that people want to clip into rounded balls, which destroys the graceful, natural shape. Instead of shearing the tops and sides, try just removing old canes from the center of the plant. You can cut these back to the ground. Removing the canes from the base of the plant encourages lots of vigorous growth in the form of long, arching boughs. It gives an old plant a new lease on life.
As for when to prune forsythia, tackle this job as soon as it has finished flowering.