Show Off Forsythia
There may still be snow on the ground, but thoughts have already turned to spring. It’s always a welcome occasion when the forsythia shrub explodes with sunny yellow flowers. Memories of grandma’s garden accompany this joyous time of year as the forsythia ushers in another spring growing season. Crocus and forsythia shrubs wait for nothing! It flowers before it leaves out with yellow 4-petal narrow, elongated blossoms. A member of the olive family was discovered in China in the late 1700s by plant hunter Robert Fortune. According to Wikipedia, he brought it back to Scottish botanist William Forsyth, the royal head gardener and founding member of the Royal Horticultural Society, hence the name of the showy shrub, Forsythia.
Most everyone is familiar with forsythia shrubs, and there are some interesting facts about this deciduous beauty. In Victorian times it was referred to as “anticipation.” Few plants, flowers, bushes, and shrubs make it through the ages with only one call name. Anticipation is a perfect name for this spring bloomer. Indeed it was part of many romantic tussie mussies.
The Chinese would dry it and, combined with honeysuckle, use it for blood detoxification. People used it as an antibiotic to relieve colds, fever, and headache symptoms. Koreans would use a branch or switch as a bow for an instrument called an “ajaeng” – a large zither.
Since hybridization, the forsythia shrub has gone from a small garden-size shrub-like Sugar Baby to a densely flowered forsythia. When hybridizing a plant, bush, flower, or shrub has been bred; it can lose some or all immunity to diseases and pests. That isn’t the case for the forsythia shrubs. It plugs along with disease and drought resistance, tolerates shade, and if it is attacked by bugs or fungus, it rarely ever perishes.
Propagation is extremely easy. Take a low-hanging branch and scuff up the earth, lay the chapter on the ground, then place a heavy rock or brick on top. Within a few months, there will be roots sprouting, and once there is a sturdy abundance, trim the branch from the mother shrub, dig up the propagation and move it to its new location. How easy is that?
The Show-Off Forsythia is a stunning addition to home and commercial landscapes in almost all planting zones. It needs little or no attention except for an occasional pruning shortly after it blooms. Then only the old canes need, and perhaps they may require some visually appealing trimming. The Show-Off Forsythia lives up to its name and grows to around 72” tall, and it’s rarely necessary that pruning is needed as it has a visually pleasing compact shape and form. The Show-Off Forsythia branches are densely flowered and bloom from the base up toward the upright stems, which reach for the sun to welcome the new spring!