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April 29, 2017
We have had a forsythia bush for the last 7 years. It has grown wildly and we have
pruned it back several times, always being careful to prune right after it is finished
blooming. However, it has never bloomed out fully down each branch like many in our
Sherwood neighborhood do, instead blooming only at the ends of the branches. It gets
plenty of sunlight (6-8 hours daily), and we have kept it watered throughout each
summer. Do you have any idea why it won’t bloom out fully? We are about ready to
dig it up and plant a different kind of bush.
My guess is you are pruning your forsythia by simply heading it back from the top
on all of the branches and not removing the older canes at the soil line. Forsythia
doesn't have a main trunk, but multiple canes. To keep them blooming from the top
down you need to remove the older, woodier canes at the soil line. This will allow
new vigorous canes to emerge from the ground up and these should have flowers all
the way down the stem. I would suggest removing a third of the canes every year.
It is best to prune as soon after flowering as possible, but no later than mid-June.
We have a very unruly forsythia bush that is about 30 years old and anchors the planting
at the end of our front porch. Is it okay to prune it now or in the fall when it drops
its leaves? It really needs a good shaping but we want to have flowers next spring
Flower buds are set on your forsythia for next spring. If you prune now, you will
lose flowers. The best time to prune is immediately after bloom next spring. Take
out 1/3 – ½ of the older, woodier canes right at the soil line. This should rejuvenate
the plant and reduce the size.
We have three large forsythia bushes that bloomed spectacularly up until about 5 years
ago. Two of them are in full sun and one is at the north edge of light woods. The
oldest shrub is over 20 years old and we cut it way back about 3 years ago because
it failed to bloom except for a few blossoms on the tips of the branches. It's never
really bloomed well since although it regained its original size in 2 years! These
shrubs have some kind of knotty gall-type growths on the branches. Many of our neighbors
have absolute thickets of well-blooming forsythia so I can't believe it's because
we haven't pruned our shrubs. We cut the oldest bush down to the ground this week
(it had grown up around a martin house) and hope it will come back and bloom for us.
Can you give me any advice on what may be wrong?
I think you have two problems-one is that you aren’t pruning correctly, and two, I
think you have a disease known as Phomopsis galls. Gall symptoms on forsythia are
brown clusters which encircle the stem which vary in size from ¼ to more than an inch
in diameter. The galls are often clustered along the stem, eventually causing twig
dieback. Control consists of pruning out the galls and disposing of them. Chemicals
are mostly ineffective. Severely infected plants should be cut to the ground. Remember
that forsythia is a cane producing plant—it doesn’t have a dominant trunk. For now
prune out all branches that have galls, at the soil line. In future years if they
don’t have galls, remove 1/3 of the older, woodier canes at the soil line every year
after bloom. This rejuvenates the plants and encourages new growth which will have
more blooms. I do think the older plant that has been cut down, should start to grow
again, and hopefully will be spectacular next spring, provided no new galls occur.
The more sunlight, the better they bloom too. If the only pruning that is done is
cutting the plant at the top to make a large ball or box, all you are doing is leaving
older canes which will bear flowers only on the tips where the new growth occurs.
Our forsythia bush seems to be dying. It has developed a lot of dead branches and
leaves this summer probably due to the hot weather. I want to cut it back severely
to hopefully give it a fresh start, but don't know when to do it. Do I do it this
fall when it's going dormant, or spring before it starts to leaf out? Also, we usually
get less than twenty blooms on it in the spring. Will cutting it back help?
Many plants have suffered this summer, but forsythia is usually pretty tough. I would
just water for now, and then assess the health of the plant next spring. Forsythia
have their flower buds set now for next year’s blooms, so severe pruning will remove
even the 20 or so blooms you get. Does the plant have full sun? Is the soil well drained?
Forsythia needs at least 6-8 hours of sun to bloom. If it still looks bad next spring,
you have a few options. One is cut it completely to the ground and let new sprouts
come up and start over. A less drastic approach is to remove one third of the oldest
canes at the soil line. Water and fertilize and see what happens.
Could you please help me determine why my forsythia bushes which are very large, will
only bloom a couple or three blooms each year, while my neighbors are solid yellow
with blooms. The bushes are several years old and every year I think next year will
be better, but it isn't.
If they get plenty of sunlight then the problem is probably that they are older bushes
that you are not pruning. Forsythia sets flower buds in late summer on the growth
it puts on during that years growing season. If the bush is old, it doesn't do a lot
of new growing since a plant can only support a finite amount of growth. To encourage
new growth you need to prune out one third to one half of the older canes every year
following flowering. When pruning forsythia, we don't want to shape them into balls
or boxes, since we want a living fountain for a plant. To achieve new growth and retain
the structure, thin out older woody canes at the soil line. This will rejuvenate the
plant, sending up fast growing new canes which should be loaded with blooms next spring--again,
as long as they get 6-8 hours of sunlight a day.
I have three forsythia bushes and only one blooms. I treat them all the same as far
as pruning and fertilizing. I have a six foot privacy fence around my backyard and
the bushes are planted in the corners. The two that do not bloom are in the southwest
and northwest corners. The southeastern corner blooms. What do I need to do to make
them all bloom?
Forsythia blooms best in full sun. Is there a difference in the amount of light they
receive? It also blooms on one year old wood. Prune out up to one third of the old
canes annually in the spring after bloom. If the two shrubs that are not blooming
are being shaded, your only option would be to move them to a sunnier location or
limb up some trees. They need at least six hours of sunlight a day for flowering.
I have three Lynwood Gold Forsythia that are two years old and have never been pruned.
They are growing in full sun and they will not bloom. Is there any reason why they
aren’t blooming, and anything I can to get flowers?
Are they putting on new growth? Forsythia sets its flower buds in late summer/early
fall on the growth it has put on during that growing season. If for some reason the
plants aren't putting on any new growth during the summer, there would be few flowers.
People who prune them into specific shapes-- balls or boxes, leaving primarily the
older growth, see very few flowers the next spring. Try taking out one third of the
canes at the soil line after they fully leaf out. This should rejuvenate them, causing
new canes, where there should be ample flowers next year. If there is something impeding
the roots from growing, you often won't see much top growth, and then reduced flowering.
I am surprised you have no flowers, since even poorly pruned older plants usually
have a few straggling blooms on the tips, as long as they are growing in full sun.
Can I cut back the forsythia after it blooms? And isn't it time to cut back the Rose
of Sharon bushes, crepe myrtles and butterfly bushes?
Forsythia should be pruned after bloom. Remove one third of the old canes down at
the soil line to encourage new growth. There is still time to prune Rose-of-Sharon,
crape myrtle and butterfly bush, as all of these plants bloom on the current season
growth. Try to do it soon since new growth is beginning.
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