The Forsythia Shrub, Is It For You?

It is the season for forsythia in the sun and shadow days of April showers. Mine is blooming full and fair this year, with its shining golden presence in the midst of verdant green of mid-spring. But with Ohio’s late propensity of frosty weather it isn’t always dependably showy.

This spring, however, exhibits just why forsythia shrubs are so popular. The pleasing color of yellow catches the fleeting sunlight that breaks through April shower’s fast moving clouds, and almost sings in the landscape. It seems I can see from a mile away in my flat windblown views.

forsythia flowers

Forsythia brings greens and golds of Spring

The forsythia blooms with the peak of the daffodils and the spectrum of yellows match perfectly with the shades of this season’s green full of yellow-greens. It is a classic spring garden picture, and the one I always think of when picturing springtime in my mind. this is the type of idea that Pamela Harper describes in her book, Color Echoes: Harmonizing Color in the Garden which suggests echoing the colors of plants in pairing them together. In a large scale view the matching of golden yellows in the blooms of forsythia and a narcissus like “Dutch Master”. My forsythia bushes always precede the Cherry and apple tree blooms, so they and the narcissus stand out like beacons in the garden.

Pros and Cons of Planting Forsythia × intermedia

The key to its popularity is the Forsythia’s spring bloom, but it does have its detractors.
Possible cons of a forsythia shrub in your garden:

  • The greatest complaint is that a forsythia yields on one short spurt of bloom and then makes a mediocre contribution of interest in the garden. This complaint is magnified when there is limited space, as in city yards.
  • In Northern climates where late frosts are common, the bloom is often ruined by arbitrary late season frosts.
  • This is a shrub that takes a lot of space.
  • In my own opinion, it looks ugly when harshly trimmed with hedge shears.

Possible pros of a forsythia shrub

  • When it blooms in the spring, it is so glorious that it makes you forget all the points held against it.
  • It is a wonderful specimen shrub when there is room for it to have its natural shape. And there are many children (me included) who have wonderful memories of hiding beneath the overarching branches on carefree summer days.
  • It is an old fashioned favorite and immediately conjures up remembrance of grandmothers garden. It is one choice for historical reconstruction of gardens dating back to Civil War times.
  • Forsythias are tough and reliably healthy shrubs
  • They are a cold climate choice, hardy from zone 4-8

Cultivars of Forsythia To Plant In Your Landscape

Spring Glory



Forsythia - Lynwood Gold

Lynwood Gold

Citrus Swizzle

Citrus Swizzle


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Forsythia Shrub Pruning

Yes, you should prune forsythia shrubs on occasion.
The time to prune a forsythia bush is right after its spring show, when the blooming is done.

The best way to keep forsythia shrubs manageable is to regularly remove the oldest branches right at the ground. If your planting gets too old and misshapen this is one of those bushes that can be cut off right near the ground, and it will sprout new growth to reinvigorate the plant. Not done often, but effective after it gets too overgrown.

Forsythia shrub information