General gardening topics

Pruning Forsythia – when and how to prune them

Last updated on March 1st, 2022

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It is always great to look out your window and see the bright yellow flowers along your Forsythia bush, indicative that spring truly has sprung. But then as your bloom starts to fade, you might be asking, Can I prune my Forsythia? Should I prune it? and if so, Can I cut my Forsythia to the ground?

When you are considering Forsythia pruning, you need to take into consideration that these are very durable shrubs that need very little care in terms of soil requirements and nutrients. So you can do your pruning on an annual basis and just diligently trim your plant so that it doesn’t become overgrown. If you have a younger plant it will require decidedly less trimming compared to a mature plant.

Pruning my Forsythia as its overgrown, cut back hard

If your Forsythia has been unattended for many years, you might have to cut it all the way to the ground. Rest assured you can cut your Forsythia to the ground and because it is a fast-growing shrub it can reach up to 300cm tall and wide. As such, pruning is actually an essential component to controlling this outstanding growth. If you prune the younger plants you can better control the size and shape before they get out of hand.

When to prune Forsythia

When to prune Forsythia

The best time to prune your Forsythia is in the spring after the blooms have faded. Pruning it at the end of summer or autumn is still possible, however, it will drastically reduce the number of flowers you see in the following spring because you will be removing the flowering branches for the next season.  The reason for this is that Forsythia shrubs produce blooms on old wood (the stems from the previous season) and they set up new flower buds as soon as new growth appears. If you prune too late in the season you will cut away that new growth.

How to prune Forsythia

When you start pruning Forsythias, remember that they have a natural arching habit so they will create the irregular round shape on their own. You should allow for this naturally otherwise you will continually fight with your shrub and prune far more than you should.

How to to prune Forsythia yo keep it a certain size

If you try to prune the Forsythia into a more formal hedge you will cut off most of the flowering branches and alleviate the beautiful yellow potential that you could have in your garden. If you do have a Forsythia hedge, we recommend creating a hedge that isn’t too formal, pruning back after flowering, maybe by a third and then pruning harder every few years to get it back to a preferred size.

  • With young Forsythia shrubs, maintenance will be easier. Younger plants only require the oldest branches to be taken out to make room for newer branches. This also benefits your plant by providing more light access to the centre of it, which goes a long way towards improving air circulation and flowering capabilities.
  • With mature Forsythia shrubs, you can cut back at least a quarter or a third of the older branches, cutting them as close to the ground as possible.
  • For the oldest and most wildly out of control Forsythias, you might need to be brutal in your pruning and cut back the entire shrub to approximately 12cm off the ground. Eventually new shoots will emerge and your plant will be rejuvenated. Within two years from this drastic cut back you will have a brand-new shrub that is full of flowers.

As you regularly trim any straggling growth this will help to tighten the overall appearance of your shrub. It takes no more than a few minutes every spring to regularly prune your Forsythia and enjoy beautiful flowers for the rest of the springtime.

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