Here comes the sun (sing it with me)
Common Name : Forsythia
Science-y Name : Forsythia suspensa
Native or Non : Forsythia were imported from Asia and are fine to plant in NH as they are not on the invasives list. They are quick to spread, however, and some areas in the US do consider the shrub invasive. Forsythia should be placed appropriately in a yard so they won’t quickly or easily crowd out other plants.
Characteristics : Spring is in the air when the bright yellow flowers of the forsythia cover its branches with blooms. It flowers pretty much before any other signs of green in your yard or garden! Also known as golden bells, this shrub produces flowers before it produces its leaves for the season. This is because once the leaves grow they would block the flowers from sunlight and prevent effective reproduction. The forsythia works on making more of itself first and producing and storing energy second.
It produces enough energy through the leaves to carry it through the summer and creates enough reserves to store energy and survive the colder seasons. And, when healthy, stores enough energy so it can produce flowers again in the spring before it needs to begin the build up of reserves again.
After the blooms die back the shrub will produce long, oval leaves that give a landscape a wonderful summer green through to fall. The leaves can turn a pleasing reddish-brown in the fall making them a wonderful three season shrub.
Forsythia produce flowers on “old” wood. Basically wood that isn’t dead, but also isn’t one of those flag-like sprouts that pops up out of the top over the summer and fall. They can be trimmed back after flowering to help control overall growth.
An unpruned forsythia will become a thick growth of individual stems and branches as it
spreads easily from sprouts and suckers that grow off the main body of the shrub.
A well established forsythia can reach up to 10 feet high and spread up to 12 feet across.
They are a somewhat shaggy looking shrub often producing tall shoots over the summer that reach out of the top a foot or more.
Fun Fact : Upon their introduction to European horticulture the golden bells were named forsythia in honor of the Scottish botanist William Forsyth, royal head gardener and a founding member of the Royal Horticultural Society.
Forsythia were first used in European horticulture in the 1800s (thank you Mount Auburn Cemetery!). This could make the forsythia one of the first plants to be introduced to western horticulture from the east.
Care Considerations : Pruning forsythia at the correct time, and pruning mainly deadwood, will ensure that the shrub will continue to have the wonderful spring blossoms they are known for. RAG Thyme gardeners will keep forsythia shoots and suckers thinned to keep the main shrub strong. This includes pruning out deadwood, and preserving branches where blossoms have set along the stems so each spring will be welcomed with the bright yellow blooms that let you know warmer weather is on the way.
Contact us to get an estimate on RAG Thyme services for your yard and garden! We’ll help existing plants stay brilliant, or suggest alternatives with as much beauty and personality.