The Q&A Archives: Forsythia

Question: I recently pruned my forsythia right down to about 6". It had become very overgrown. What should I do to maintain it and keep it looking good?

Answer: A couple of years ago, a snow plow "decapitated" a big forsythia bush growing near our home. I think it was the best thing that ever happened to that bush! The first spring it looked...decapitated... By fall, however, it had grown wonderful, graceful branches that managed to avoid the snowplow later! The next spring it was glorious!

Forsythia blooms on one-year-old wood, so branches that pop up this year will bloom next spring. The old wood therefore isn't much use. The best way to deal with forsythia, and keep it blooming and in control is to prune out 1/3rd of the shrub each year AFTER it blooms. Remove the oldest and largest branches. Prune them down very close to the ground so you don't have unsightly stumps. That way, you will essentially have a new shrub every three years. It will look well groomed and give you much enjoyment I'm sure!

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