One of the plants that we always look forward to after a long winter is the forsythia.
This early blooming plant is a focal point of early spring, heralding the warming months with a brilliant display of golden yellow blooms. Forsythias bloom before they leaf out, and during full bloom the bare stems are completely covered from base to tips. In early spring, they become the focal point of the landscape, then blend in well with other plants when the rich green foliage emerges after blooming.
These deciduous shrubs are native to eastern Asia, where they have been used in Chinese medicine for their antiseptic effect in treating wounds. They are fast growing, with dwarf varieties reaching 4-5 ft high and almost as wide, while taller growing varieties can reach 8-10 ft high and half as wide. The plants have great structure with an upright arching growth habit that has a somewhat fountain-like effect.
Forsythias not only look great in the landscape, but their branches also are perfect for flower arrangements, thanks to the uniformity of blooms on the branches. They are frost-hardy and easy to grow in well-drained fertile soil. They grow best in a full sun location, so are often used as a living privacy fence after they have fully leafed out. The taller varieties make great individual specimens in the landscape, and can also be used for erosion control on slopes.
Most people prefer the somewhat wild natural look of forsythias, but they can be shaped with regular pruning. This is best done after they have finished blooming, because they flower on the prior year's growth (pruning either too late or too early interrupts the growth/blooming cycle). But no matter how you shape this hardy plant, it will reward you with years and years of spectacular color every spring!
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