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Connecticut Garden Journal: Look for newer varieties of forsythia

Blossoming Forsythia with rain drops in spring
Guenter Fischer
/
Getty Images
Forsythias are one of the first flowering shrubs of spring and their bright golden colored flowers brighten up the late winter, dreary landscape.

The forsythia shrubs may not be blooming yet, but they're coming soon. Forsythias are one of the first flowering shrubs of spring. Their bright golden colored flowers brighten up the late winter, dreary landscape. Most gardeners know forsythia as a sprawling deciduous shrubs that can get out of control easily. When I was growing up we had a forsythia hedge of shrubs between our house and my uncle's house. Every few years years we had to severely cut it back after flowering to keep it in bounds.

But newer varieties of forsythia are shorter, with a more tame growth habit and have flower buds that are winter hardy. Look for 'Northern Sun' and 'Meadowlark' for large forsythia shrubs that have hardy flower buds. For dwarf varieties, try 'Sugar Baby' that gets 2- to 3-feet tall and 'Minigold' that grows less than 2 feet tall. There is even a white forsythia called Abeliophyllum that's native to Korea but grows 3- to 6-feet tall in zones 5 to 9. Dwarf varieties are great in the flower garden while the taller varieties are best in a shrub border or as an informal hedge.

Forsythia grows best in full sun on well-drained soils. Large forsythia varieties sucker freely and can spread easily, so plant them where they can sprawl. Prune after flowering. Shrubs can be pruned back severely and will still grow and flower next year.

For a late winter treat, prune off some branches with fat flower buds now, place them in a vase in a warm, sunny room and watch your early show of forced forsythia flowers bloom indoors.

Charlie Nardozzi is a regional Emmy® Award winning garden writer, speaker, radio, and television personality. He has worked for more than 30 years bringing expert information to home gardeners.
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