00108This may seem to be three months early, or an entire season out of season; but this is when bare root forsythia, Forsythia X intermedia, gets planted. Even so, the smaller of new bare root plants will bloom with only a few flowers early in their first spring, so will not produce their famously profuse and garishly bright yellow bloom for another year and three months. They will be worth the wait.

Flowers are small but very abundant. They bloom as winter turns to spring, before there is any new foliage to interfere with their splendor. Foliage develops as bloom finishes, and if the weather is right, it might get somewhat colorful in autumn. The simple paired leaves are about two or perhaps three inches long. Big plants should stay less than ten feet tall, but can get taller if lightly shaded.

Pruning should be done after bloom rather than before, and from the inside out rather than from the outside in. Dormant pruning, although more horticulturally correct, eliminates some of the canes that would otherwise bloom in spring. After bloom, older overgrown canes that are beginning to deteriorate should be pruned to the ground to promote development of new canes to replace them.

8 thoughts on “Forsythia

    1. It is even less Californian. I do not remember ever seeing it in a grocery store, or even in use by a florist. It should be more common here, since there are so many people here who are from within its native range. I think it is more common on the East Coast because more people have been gardening there longer.


    1. People from the East Coast either like it or dislike it as overly common. I can justify my appreciation for it because it is so rare here. I have been on airplanes only a few times (one round trip between San Jose and Los Angeles, and one round trip between San Jose and Portland). When arriving in Los Angeles, I remember the blue stripes of jacaranda street trees through the city.

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  1. The forsythia out my windows bloom halfheartedly in January and February, then break out in full bloom in late march or early April. I’m glad to know how to prune them now and may do so this coming year.

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