Low Maintenance Plant: Forsythia

Low Maintenance Plant: Forsythia

Consider adding a low maintenance forsythia to your landscape. 

Welcome spring with the bright yellow blossoms of forsythia.  Include newer varieties of this traditional favorite for reliable spring color in mixed borders and shrub beds.

The newer forsythia varieties, like those at Pasquesi, are flower bud hardy. This means you’ll be enjoying flowers from the tip of the stem to the base of the plant each spring. Although the older varieties survived our winters, the flower buds were often killed by the cold temperatures. That meant no spring bloom or blossoms just below the snow line; a real disappointment.

Properly timed pruning is also critical to ensure spring bloom. Forsythias set their flower buds the previous summer. So prune the plants right after flowering if you need to reduce their size or encourage new growth. Pruning at other times eliminates the flower buds and the spring bloom.

Reduce the size of overgrown plants by removing a third of the older stems back to ground level. Reduce the height by one third if needed. Repeat each year for three years for a smaller plant and an abundance of blooms.  In the future, remove an older stem or two and reduce the height as needed.

You can also prune the whole plant back to ground level. The resulting growth may be bigger than desired. If so, follow the method described above.

Reduce the need for pruning by selecting a compact variety that will fit the available space. Or use larger varieties as screens and backdrops or in other locations that can accommodate their larger mature size.

Plant forsythias in full sun for the best flowering; although they will tolerate partial shade. These durable shrubs adapt to a wide range of soil conditions, including clay, but prefer well-drained soil. 

The showy flowers have a slight fragrance and the deer tend to leave these plants be. Forsythias are basically pest free and tolerate the toxic juglone contained in black walnut tree roots, leaves and nuts. Making this is one of the few plants you can successfully grow near a black walnut tree.

So include a few of these harbingers of spring in your landscape this year.


At a Glance

Name: Forsythia (Forsythia)

Size: 2 to 8 feet tall and wide depending on the variety

Light: Full sun for maximum flowering

Water: Water thoroughly when the top 4 to 6” of soil are crumbly and moist

Soil: Tolerant of most soils, prefers well-drained


Written by, gardening expert, Melinda Myers.  Each month Melinda will feature a low maintenance plant perfect for beginning and experienced gardeners looking for attractive easy care plants.  Melinda Myers is a nationally recognized gardening expert with more than 30 years of horticulture experience.  She is a wealth of knowledge and we are pleased to share Melinda’s Low Maintenance Plant of the Month with you!