With its bright yellow flowers Forsythia Intermedia is a real eye-catcher in the garden. However, in order for it to thrive for a long time, pruning is necessary in the spring. How to cut your forsythia and what to consider, we explain in the article.
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Goldilocks at a glance: What you should know about this ornamental shrub
The forsythia, still known as the goldbell or golden willow, is a yellow-flowering olive. It comes from East Asia and is now also widespread in Southeastern Europe. In this country, the flowering ornamental shrub reaches a maximum height of growth of 2 meters and fascinates in the spring with its flowers and in the fall – with its foliage, which first turns yellow and then burgundy from September. The shrub has a spreading, opaque growth and is therefore one of the most popular hedge plants. It does not require much care. As long as the location is sunny and the soil is rich in humus, it will thrive and grow quickly.
Is forsythia toxic to humans and animals and are safety measures necessary when pruning?
Slightly toxic to humans: The leaves, flowers and berries are slightly toxic to humans. Occasional consumption of small amounts of berries or flowers may cause diarrhea or vomiting in young children. For safety’s sake, therefore, you should only allow small children to play in the garden under supervision – and, of course, you should also inform the neighbors for safety’s sake if you have planted the shrub near the property line.
Weakly poisonous for dogs: The plant is also weakly poisonous for dogs. Owners of puppies in particular should never let them play in the garden without supervision.
Weakly toxic to cats: For the house cats, all parts of the plant are weakly toxic and can cause vomiting or nausea. Therefore, in case of poisoning, you should contact the veterinarian.
Weakly toxic for chickens: For chickens, the plant is also classified as slightly toxic.
The plant may attract bees and other insects with its flowers. However, since they have no pollen and are low in nectar, they are not a food source for pollinating insects . There is one variety that is classified as bee friendly. “Beatrix Fahrrand” is considered a food source in the spring, but many early blooming native plants provide more pollen and nectar.
To avoid poisoning, never leave pets or small children in the garden without supervision. For safety, you can also fence the bushes. No special protective measures are necessary when pruning. Wear gardening gloves and dispose of all cut plant parts immediately after pruning.
Pruning forsythia: after the end of the flowering period is the right point for a light pruning.
For now: you don’t need to prune goldenseal annually. Pruning should be done as needed every few years. If the shoots are heavily branched or if you notice signs of disease or pest infestation, then spring thinning is necessary. Because the flowering shrub already forms its flower buds in the previous year, you should not perform a maintenance pruning until after the flowering period has ended. The rule of thumb is to prune the shrub immediately after it has finished blooming so that it has enough time to recover and sprout again. Severe pruning is not necessary. Due to bird protection laws, no pruning is allowed after April anyway. Maintenance pruning is allowed – but check for nesting birds first.
A sure sign that your plant needs pruning is flower formation. If this is dropping sharply, then you should reach for the pruning shears. Proceed as follows: Every three years, prune the woody shoots down to the green wood. Cut back vigorously about 30% of the basic shoots. Remove all shoots that overhang slightly and all shoots that do not receive sunlight.
It is best to use sharp loppers for pruning. Make sure that the cut surface is smooth. Cracks make the plant more susceptible to fungal diseases and pests.
Pruning Forsythia: Two goldilocks special cases
Pruning Forsythia Koreana
is a very hardy shrub that grows 2 feet tall and 2 feet wide. It fascinates not only with its golden yellow flowers, but also with its ovate leaves, white leaf veins and foxy red bark.
When pruning in the spring, proceed as follows: Prune the faded shoots to strong eyes. If the bush is heavily woody or branched, you need to make a rejuvenation pruning. To do this, cut back 1/4 of all old shoots close to the ground.
Pruning the hanging forsythia
Forsythia suspensa var. fortunei is a hardy plant with slightly overhanging shoots. Unlike other varieties, its blooming period ends just before the Ice Saints. The deciduous perennial then forms the perfect background for summer flowers with its filigree foliage in the months of June – August. The goldbell does not bear fruit.
It reproduces by cuttings, which must be cut off in April, just before or just at the beginning of the flowering period. The plant tolerates a caring pruning, which must be done after the end of the flowering period, that is, after about the Ice Saints.