When to prune forsythia

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Beloved by gardeners for their vibrant yellow blooms, forsythia can form large and upright shrubs and be used to make hedges. Forsythias typically flower best when they are grown in full sunshine in a fertile and well-drained soil, and they can grow up to three metres. Forsythias need to be pruned otherwise they grow without structure and the flowering process will slow down.

When should you prune a forsythia?

Forsythia bushes are relatively easy to care for, but they require some love and attention in spring time.

Established forsythia plants should be pruned immediately after flowering, the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) explains.

Forsythia typically flowers in the early spring, in March through to April, as it is a deciduous shrub.

This means the plant sheds its leaves or flowers every year which, in the case of forsythia, occurs during the winter months.

Forsythia blooms on stems that were produced the previous year.

So pruning a forsythia plant too late may mean the plant does not thrive as well next year.

So at the latest, gardeners ideally should aim to have pruned any kind of spring-flowering shrub before the arrival of summer in June.

How do you prune a forsythia?

If you have a young forsythia plant, the RHS advises allowing it to develop with “minimal pruning”.

However, it is important “dead, damaged or badly positioned shoots” should be removed after the plant has flowered in late spring.

But established forsythia should be cut back “flowered growth to strong young shoots lower down”, the RHS explains.

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According to Gardeners’ World, this means cutting all stems which have flowered back to a pair of buds.

In addition, gardeners should cut out up to 20 percent of the ageing stems near the base of the plant annually for best results.

When pruning forsythia, it is not a good idea to prune the plant later in the year, as this may cause a decline in flowering.

Although hard pruning isn’t necessary for forsythias, it can be considered for forsythias that have been largely neglected and are very congested.

The RHS explains: “If your forsythia has grown too large, is mis-shapen or badly congested, you can give it a new lease of life by hard pruning.

“It’s best to carry this out during the dormant season, between autumn and early spring, but bear in mind that the plant won’t produce any flowers in the first spring after such pruning.

“You can either prune the entire shrub in one year or, if you would like to keep some of the existing structure and flowers, then spread the pruning over two years.”

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