Advanced Search Filters

Plant Type
Hardiness Zone
Heat Zone
Sunset Zone
Function
Sun Exposure
Soil Moisture
Water Requirement

FORSYTHIA

Image of Forsythia

Maureen Gilmer

Family

Oleaceae

Botanical Name

FORSYTHIA

Plant Common Name

Forsythia

General Description

Forsythias are harbingers of spring, beloved for their early, prolific display of brilliant yellow blooms. The genus Forsythia is comprised of about 11 species, one from southeastern Europe the rest from eastern Asia. This genus was named in honor of William Forsyth, one of the founders of the organization that went on to become the Royal Horticulture Society. He never saw his namesake plants, as the first Forsythia was named several decades after his passing.

These upright, deciduous, occasionally semi-evergreen shrubs possess mostly hollow, angled branches with foliage held in opposite pairs. The leaves are usually simple (without lobes or indentations), or trifoliate (three-lobed), with smooth or serrated margins. Showy, tubular yellow blooms with four spreading petals generally appear before the leaves, and are borne singly in the leaf axils (joints between the leaves and stems). The fruits that follow are capsules which split to release a few slightly winged seeds.

There are many Forsythia cultivars available which vary in size, habit and bloom. ‘Meadowlark’ is a hybrid between early forsythia ( F. ovata) and Albanian forsythia ( F. europaea), and is grown for its extreme cold-tolerance, brilliant yellow flowers and pretty purple and gold fall foliage. Forsythia x intermedia is a tried and true deciduous shrub whose cheerful, bright yellow blooms are among the first to appear in spring. Greenstem forsythia (Forsythia viridissima), native to China, is a stout, deciduous to semi-evergreen shrub with greenish bark and burgundy to gold fall foliage.

Hardiness and cultural requirements vary among species, but generally, Forsythia prefer full to part sun locations and clay or loamy soils, and some are tolerant of a wide range of conditions. Give these shrubs room to spread, as they can become quite large. Most do not take well to shearing, and should be pruned with discretion just after flowering if at all, so the buds for next year’s blooms can develop in the fall. These lovely shrubs are effective planted in masses or groups, and their stems may be cut and brought indoors for forcing into bloom in late winter.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    9 - 6

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    5 - 9

  • Sunset Zone

    A2, A3, 2b, 3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 14, 15, 16, 18, 19

  • Plant Type

    Shrub

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun

  • Height

    8'-10' / 2.4m - 3.0m

  • Width

    10'-20' / 3.0m - 6.1m

  • Bloom Time

    Early Spring, Late Winter

  • Native To

    China, Korea

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral, Alkaline

  • Soil Drainage

    Average

  • Soil type

    Loam

  • Tolerances

    Drought

  • Growth Rate

    Fast

  • Habit

    Upright/Erect

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    Yellow

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Purple

  • Bark Color

    Brown

  • Fragrant Flowers

    No

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    No

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    No

  • Foliage Texture

    Medium

  • Foliage Sheen

    Matte

  • Evergreen

    No

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Bark Texture

    Smooth

  • Usage

    Cutflower, Feature Plant, Hedges

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    No

  • Self-Sowing

    No