Forsynthia...contemplating removal

cadillactasteJuly 17, 2014

We planted a forsythia shrub years back...I was leery with it over taking my aunts yard. But I don't think she ever pruned a child we would crawl under it's branches and have the perfect little cozy space.

I believe it was last year or the year before that...after seeing how my sand cherry rejuvenated I pruned the forsythia back basically to the ground. My husband and son were completely taken back. By the time the fall season rolled had rolled around I had a nice shaped shrub. Where in the past it got light pruning here and there. Until it developed a leggy appearance I guess you could call it. Where the leaves were only on a good 1/3 of the end of the branches.

I am assuming that in needs pruned gently (which means not cutting to the ground) so I went at it. I can say it looks better than it had. But not near as cute as the shrub was the previous year.

Should this be pruned hard every year? And if so when is the ideal pruning time for it so I can mark it down. My husband absolutely loves this shrub...(noticing he is drawn to yellows) me...not so much with the love for this shrub.

Again mentioned to my husband that...there is no love for that shrub...and he sighed hard. He really seems to like it. It was one of huge few things we planted years back that survived the black walnut tree.

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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

IMHO... never give a forsythia a haircut ..

its the prototypical shrub for rejuvenation pruning...

of which i am sure you can google ...


ps: jeez cad.. you cut it to the ground.. and were happy with it.. so next time the problem occurs.. you dont go with what you like.. but make up some other theory... why/>??

pps: just get rid of it ...

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 10:51AM
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Well...I guess that was a foolish question. But...we had no blooms at all. So I am assuming it was because I pruned it extremely hard to the ground. the wrong time. I would love just to rip it out. But, I don't see that happening. I was hoping to allow it to get a bit taller is why I didn't wish to prune it hard each year. To block the area under the stairs that goes up to the first landing/deck area.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 12:19PM
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A photo...long ago before I pruned hard. It was more tall...and filled the area in nicely...but again became leggy. What I pruned off today were like suckers. Tall enough to fall over but refused to. When I bent them to see if they would even reach the outer area of the shrub. They did...and then some. Yet...again were more suckers than anything. Maybe...they were suckers last time that filled in that spot. But now that the rest of the shrub is more compact the suckers looked horrid. The suckers were to the railing on the deck.

Now that I look at doesn't look hideous...just not the look I am desiring. I fear...that I have the wrong shrub for the look I am wanting.

This post was edited by cadillactaste on Thu, Jul 17, 14 at 13:10

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 1:06PM
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I think that the suckers were probably the new growth, as that's how forsythia grows - like mockorange, it blooms next year on all the luxuriant growth it makes this year. You need to thin it out at the base of the plant every year or so, taking out the oldest (woody) branches right after it blooms. Then come the long new growths,which will have flowers next year. If you prune it hard now, you won't have much flowering next spring. You could still cut out some of the old stuff, though, as that won't bloom too much anyway.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 9:12PM
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Thanks for the reply lisanti...well...then pruning them was not wise. They were crazy almost the top of the railing! Looked so oddly shaped. So your saying...prune out the old...gotcha. If I prune out any more will look oddly shaped. Will the long term effect be a better appearance? Overall...that is what I am shooting for.

I told my husband today...the shrub since it was pruned hard...just has a different shape. Where it was more of an upright's squatty and wanting to get wider. I explained I wished it were like it once was,which hid the area under the deck from view... He laughed and said I worry to much. Pondering something to plant here. There was a plant that got tall...that had purple foliage that could go here. He really seemed to like it too at the nursery. Not sure of the name...but might be worth...tossing it out for him to think about. Though with the purple plum in the yard...I am not sure I want so much purple foliage in such a small space. It could me my wild card...maybe. Something to chew on.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 9:48PM
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They say the best time to prune forsythia, lilac, amd similar shrubs is right after blooming, to give time for the formation of the new flower buds.

Forsythia is easy to root, so if you are determined to eliminate it from its present position you could just try rooting several stems in water and planting them up in some spare pots for later allocation.

Additionally, even nonspecialized strains of forsythia have some mild antibiotic properties you may wish to Google. It's a nice little shrub to have around.

If you want a graceful, outreaching shrub, every few years cut off a few of the oldest stems fairly close to the ground. Don't top prune unless the death of a growth tip or other anomaly requires it.

If you want a stiff looking, more vertical plant, just do top pruning--but that does not renew the whole plant, and it will take time for it to return to a vertical habit as the older stems widen and stiffen.

If you cut everything down to the ground every year, you will in most cases seriously deplete and maybe eventually kill the plant.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 10:05PM
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mikebotann(8a SE of Seattle)

Deciduous plants make for poor foundation shrubs....a big hole all winter. Foundation plants are part of the backbone of the garden and should be mostly evergreen.
Forsythias are real nice in the early spring when blooming, and then they sort of 'disappear' for the rest of the year.
I would move it out somewhere near the woods in the sun and let it be what it wants to be. Maybe take out the oldest sprouts once in a while for rejuvenation.
I have a couple Forsythias waiting for the Fall rains before I plant them in their permanent location. It won't be close to the house.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2014 at 7:09AM
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Thanks Mike for the advice...I dreamed last year I gave it to the neighbor...and it ended up thriving and being a beautiful shrub. Lol to plant it where it needs to be...would be the backyard behind the waterfall maybe.

Would it be difficult to transplant? Fall being the best time I would much room should I give it from a hibiscus?

    Bookmark   July 18, 2014 at 9:08PM
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Forsythias vary in size depending on the variety, so you will need to judge the distance to place it based on its size before you pruned it.

If you want, start some cuttings and plant them, and when they are good-sized remove the old shrub. It might be easier than moving the current shrub.

I love forsythia since it's the first really large-scale bloom here in spring. Mine isn't a foundation shrub since it's so large. It is out between the road and the veggie garden where I can enjoy it when it's looking good, but it's fine as a green blob all summer. I do like the purply-red fall color and the bright yellow winter twigs, so it isn't totally boring all the time that it isn't blooming. From October, 2013

    Bookmark   July 20, 2014 at 4:30PM
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mikebotann(8a SE of Seattle)

That's a nice one! AND it has plenty of room!
I've never seen one turn that red before. Looks good.
I've moved a lot of them when they were dormant. With reasonable care, not a problem.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2014 at 12:23AM
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mikebotann(8a SE of Seattle)

Just for the heck of it I thought I'd post a picture of a different variety of Forsythia I acquired some years ago. I think it's called 'Nervosa'.
It's still in a pot after at least 5 years. It WILL be planted this Fall.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2014 at 10:14AM
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Now I am trying to think...has mine ever shown red be honest I never wanted it planted where it was, our yard has no room for it to do what it was meant to do. But be pruned to contain it. So I try to ignore the fact it is in my yard. Now that I am getting a hand on the yard...and discovering what I do like. This impulse buy my husband working less for me. We do have property near us...a huge triangle section of grass dividing roads branching off. I may ask the lake associate if I might relocate it there. We would still see it bloom...but it would allow it "out of my yard" and in a spot it would get the sun it desires...and the room to be what it was meant to be.

That close up of the leaf was quite unusual...

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 7:44AM
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YAY! My husband agreed to move this come I wish to remove most of the length of the branches when we transplant it to another area...or leave it as is and try to keep it as it is and dig it up? Best approach to transplanting would be appreciated.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2014 at 7:37PM
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floral_uk z.8/9 SW UK

cadillactaste - this Forsythia seems to be figuring large in your mind. Forsythia is a bone hardy, common as muck shrub and doesn't need any kind of kid glove treatment. Dig it up and move it in the Autumn if you want to. But if you cut off half a dozen pieces about two feet long right now and go and stick them in the ground where you'd like some Forsythia they will almost certainly root by themselves. It's one of the easiest shrubs to take cuttings from.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2014 at 9:33AM
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Thanks happens to be one shrub planted years ago...that my husband wanted and I hadn't. That actually lived...the rest of our plants we planted in another area and hadn't known about the issue with black walnuts. That said...he loves this shrub, so the only way to get it out of my his transplanting it. He doesn't wish to kill it...I will inform him it's as hardy as the Rose of Sharon we have. I heard they were hardy...he wanted me to ask so it transplanted well. I don't dare tell how you can stick twigs in the ground...they would be everywhere then. Lol but good to case ones would want a starting.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2014 at 2:51PM
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