Forcing forsythia stem to bloom indoors...

j0nd03January 14, 2012

I pruned several forsythia bushes recently and put the cut stems in water in a vase about a week or so ago. These bushes were all planted last spring and had very sparse flowering (3-6 flowers) per shrub despite being fairly large and healthy. All grew about 3' last year. The cut stems are now producing leaves and no flowers but the leaves are coming from underneath the leaf buds? It looks really weird... Did the shrubs spend all their energy on growth while sacrificing flower production? I did not fertilize any of them. Or is this just normal for forsythia?

On last caveat. I pruned the shrubs sometime in late Nov or early Dec and left the stick on the ground. When planting near the area the first week of Jan, I realized every stick that was pruned was still green! Then I took them inside and put them in a vase after preparing the ends for increased water absorption. We had very mild weather in that stretch with very limited freezes if any.

By jp_42_82 at 2012-01-14

By jp_42_82 at 2012-01-14

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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

try cutting a fresh piece of the bush.. and see if it will flower ...

buds are set the year prior.. ambient weather after transplant thru late fall.. dictates bud set ...

i have one in a very low area.. it has bloomed once in 10 years.. while others... higher up.. loom every year .... i think cold air pools down there.. and buds dont set or die due t late hard frosts ...

hard to speculate on whether fertilizer screwed them up ... but 3 feet growth on a transplant sounds big ... are they in the lawn...

in the top three of the easiest plants in the universe to root ... with willow and poplar ... if you had simply stuck the cuttings in the ground.. a vast majority of them would have rooted ....

i dont understand if these were cut recently.. or last year, left on the ground.. and just brought in ...

try a fresh cut branch and report back


    Bookmark   January 14, 2012 at 12:17PM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

The brown buds above the leaves in your pictures are flower buds. If you look carefully you can see some yellow beginning to show in the pictures.

Regarding your statement that you pruned your forsythias in November/December, I'm afraid that you may have caused a problem for this year's flowers. Forsythias should be pruned immediately after flowering or you risk cutting off next year's flowers which are mostly on old i.e. the previous year's wood. As Ken says they are incredibly easy to root. It might work yet if you stick December's prunings into the ground now.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2012 at 1:20PM
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I am sorry I was unclear with the timeline. I meant I actually transplanted one of the forsythia (shrub #1) around Nov/Dec 2011 and left the cut stems on the ground. This pruning was just to shape it a little and was done at the base of the shrub. It is at the corner of the driveway and it was just to ungodly ugly too wait until spring ;-) The other 2 forsythia's had really funky branches going everywhere that the voices in my head told me to eliminate. Again, very selective stems removed, just a 2-4 per shrub.

While moving 2 other shrubs to the same area around shrub #1 New Years 2012 I noticed the cut stems and picked them up to move to the burn pile. I noticed the stems appeared to be green. So I scratched them and they were still green. I had read cuttings can be made and brought in during winter so I did just that.

I did put several of the cuttings in moist soil in the back that is shaded all winter just to see what happens. I will take new cuttings today and see if it is any different.

I don't think I messed the shrub up too much with the minor pruning I did. Also, they were all in a new bed that was lawn previously but the lawn has never to my knowledge been fertilized either.

Flora, so they will still flower after leafing out? Is that normal? Not that being grown indoors is normal for most deciduous plants...

    Bookmark   January 14, 2012 at 2:31PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

It is at the corner of the driveway and it was just to ungodly ugly too wait until spring ;-)

===>>> you are trying to tame a gorgon at the end of a driveway.. where you need to see traffic ... whats that all about ... you can google that term ....

forsythia are what one might call a wild rambler.. check out the link ...

and note that none of them are near a driveway .. nor in a confined space ...

the only thing i hate worse than privet.. AND BOXWOOD .... are forsythia pruned/sheared to a gumball or lollipop ... [though i will give you cred for pruning way down low .. instead of at height ... and i dont think your timing matters since it was total removal of said branches]

to be properly sited for natural growth .. IMHO .. they need a minimum of 25 x 25 feet ...

do you just dream up these ideas.. or does your wife simply insist on planting things to make work for you ... rotflmbo .... this is proof of the failures of design by committee ....

whats next jon.. that gorgeous vine rambling down the fence with the deep purple flowers and purple berries.. otherwise known as nightshade ...

keep up your sense of humor ....


ps: ALWAYS understand.. my knowledge is simply based on making the same mistake .. a few years back ...

Here is a link that might be useful: link

    Bookmark   January 14, 2012 at 3:53PM
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lol how did you know it was her idea? It has plenty of room to grow in its current spot (we are in a rural location). I was thinking remove around 1/4-1/3 of the stems from the base every year after it flowers to keep it in check. She is in love with the idea of huge yellow flower displays imo. I have already planted the seed of buying a smaller variety like the one in the link. To my surprise she was open to the idea. I bet with a little more time I can talk her into moving these Lynnwood Gold to the back somewhere out of the way and plant the smaller growing kind.

Nightshade... I think I can find a spot for that ;)

Here is a link that might be useful: link

    Bookmark   January 14, 2012 at 5:20PM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

Outdoors they would flower before leafing out. I don't know why they sometimes do it the other way round inside.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2012 at 7:48AM
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Oh, good. I can just pinch off the foliage in that case.


    Bookmark   January 15, 2012 at 8:42AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

It has plenty of room to grow in its current spot (we are in a rural location).

===>>> if you have room ... then why does it have to be at the end of the driveway .. where it needs to be maintained ... at a specific size????

root some.. and put them in a better space.. then let the gorgon go wild .. until she sees the beauty of removal... nay.. insists on removal.. since you have duplicates ...

what fits where.. with little or no after care.. is NOT REALLY A FUNCTION of color ... and that is her downfall ...

perhaps i am thinking along the lines of landscape architecture .. while she is looking at it from an interior design angle .... and interior design fails quickly outdoors ....

BTW ... there is a yellow leafed one.. that is ... get this.. yellow year around ..... and if i am not mistaken ... a dwarf ... you might want to look for it ... but please dont put it at the end of the drive ...


Here is a link that might be useful: link

    Bookmark   January 15, 2012 at 10:31AM
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botann(z8 SEof Seattle)

I'm with Ken. Do NOT plant it at the end of the drive. Makes no sense at all. Why have a large spreading shrub right where you have to look both ways before pulling out? The end of the drive needs a small, tight, evergreen to anchor it. Forsythia is not that plant, just as it's not a foundation plant either.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2012 at 1:22AM
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She finds the random bushy growth attractive which is a stark contrast to her ideas around the foundation plantings. The biggest thing I have going for me is she had me move two chinese fringeflower shrubs behind the forsythia to 'frame' it but had me plant them only 5-6' away. I have already explained they will encroach on each other in only a couple of years. I don't think this will look nearly as nice as she sees it in her mind. She has conceded she at least wants to see how everything does this year and then we can revisit the situation this coming fall. I did convince her to let me move the other two in a flower bed to the back somewhere across the ditch where the flowers can be enjoyed in the spring, then the shrub forgot about the rest of the year.

Mike - It will not obscure the road unfortunately. That would have made a good argument for removal no doubt! And since we are in rural spot, looking before you pull out is almost optional ;-)

    Bookmark   January 17, 2012 at 9:12AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

The end of the drive needs a small, tight, evergreen to anchor it.

===>>> as far as i am concerned... the driveway.. is the spot you try to fill.. when every other square inch.. of the entire property is full ...

we see these pix of old English manors.. or deep south plantations...

the only problem is that we do no have slaves nor peons to spend months out of the year to work on these types of plantings ... we actually have lives that do not involve hard labor to create an unsustainable landscape ...

you look at pix of botann's garden.. and but for the lizard.. he could probably go 5 years with little or no maintenance


    Bookmark   January 17, 2012 at 12:35PM
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I think the end of the drive is a fine place for eye catching multi season interest through variety of plantings (not that this forsythia alone offers it). I like to enjoy a show from the end of the drive to the house though it is a short distance. I may not have time to wander the property and smell the flowers or inspect growing fruit after work but I always travel by the end of the driveway and the path home. I have installed an 70' bed on the east side of the driveway facing the road I take to and from work for the sole purpose to delight my eyes as I slowly pass by in the morning and evening.

Mike would not have a garden that looks even remotely similar to the one he has now if he lived in the River Valley of Arkansas. His conifers wouldn't last a year in most situations without a ton of shadecloth all over which defeats the purpose of planting beautiful things to make a beautiful landscape, right? It is unfair to compare the two situations.

And I suppose my general dislike of conifers does not help me much when trying to find a suitable evergreen to anchor the driveway. What evergreen would you suggest fit a space nearly directly under a powerline that could take full relentless summer sun with a southern exposure at my house and still look attractive all year? Realize we had two days 120* at my house last summer and a month and a half of 100* days in a row with no rain. One reason the forsythia is a good choice for my landscape is its durability in summer heat.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2012 at 1:36PM
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When I got home from work yesterday one of the old stems (which happened to be the one most leafed out) had finally popped a flower :)

    Bookmark   January 18, 2012 at 9:42AM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

Told you so :) Enjoy your flowers.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2012 at 12:31PM
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Thanks flora :) We like watching the leafs emerge and left them on. They have extended about 2" now on the longest growth. I wonder how much more they will grow...

    Bookmark   January 18, 2012 at 4:05PM
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cyn427 (zone 7)

Your thread prompted me to bring in a couple of flowering quince branches, jon! Thanks! Glad your forsythia popped.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2012 at 12:21PM
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Glad I could be of service :) Enjoy!

    Bookmark   January 28, 2012 at 3:40PM
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