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Border forsythia

Gold Tide border forsythia in flower.

Border forsythia is a multi-stemmed shrub noted for the bright yellow flowers in early spring.  An excellent shrub for mixed borders, in mass or as an informal hedge. Flower bud hardiness varies by cultivar and should be selected wisely.

This plant has some cultivated varieties. Go to list of cultivars.


Botanical name:

Forsythia x intermedia

All common names:

Border forsythia

Family (English):


Family (Botanic):


Tree or Plant Type:

  • Shrub

Native Locale:

  • Non-native

Landscape Uses:

  • Hedge,
  • Massing

Size Range:

  • Large shrub (more than 8 feet),
  • Medium shrub (5-8 feet),
  • Small shrub (3-5 feet)

Light Exposure:

  • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)

Hardiness Zones:

  • Zone 5 (Chicago),
  • Zone 6,
  • Zone 7

Soil Preference:

  • Alkaline soil,
  • Moist, well-drained soil


  • Occasional drought,
  • Wet sites,
  • Alkaline soil,
  • Clay soil,
  • Road salt

Season of Interest:

  • Early spring,
  • Mid spring,
  • Early fall

Flower Color & Fragrance:

  • Yellow

Shape or Form:

  • Arching,
  • Multi-stemmed,
  • Oval,
  • Round,
  • Upright

Growth Rate:

  • Fast

More Information:

Size & Form

An upright to rounded, multi-stemmed shrub with irregular, arching stems reaching 8 to 10 feet high and wide. 
Many cultivars available in a wide range of heights

Tree & Plant Care

Best grown in full sun for best blooming potential. Partial shade will result in less blooms.
Forsythia has a fibrous, spreading root system best in moist, well drained soils. Benefits with a layer of mulch to moderate soil temperature fluctuations.
Adaptable to wide range of soil types, including poorly drained wet sites. Drought tolerant once established.
Flowers are produced on old wood, prune immediately after flowering. Overgrown shrubs can be rejuvenated by cutting to the ground.
Arching branches can produce new roots if touching soil.
Flower buds may be injured in extremely cold winters or early spring snap after plants come out of dormancy. Choose hardy cultivars.

Disease, pests, and problems

Leaf spots, crown gall, spider mites. none serious

Disease, pest, and problem resistance

Tolerant of black walnut toxicity, deer, wet sites, salt 

Native geographic location and habitat

Hybrid origin (Forsythia suspensa x Forsythia viridissima)

Bark color and texture 

Tan to light brown, 4-sided, prominent  lenticels
Pith is solid but internodes are chambered

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture

Opposite, 3 to 5 inches long and 2 to 3 inches wide. Upper 1/2 of leaf had serrated margins
Medium green in summer changing to yellow-green , sometimes with a tint of purple in fall
Holds leaves late into fall

Flower arrangement, shape, and size

Simple, 4-petaled, pale yellow , 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 inches long flowers in clusters of 2 to 6 along older stems
Typically flowers before the leaves emerge in late March into April

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions

Dehiscent brown capsule

Cultivars and their differences 

Gold Tide™ border Forsythia (Forsythia x intermedia 'Courtasol'): A dwarf form reaching 1 1/2 to 3 feet high and 4 to 5 feet wide. Light yellow flowers, may be used as a ground cover. 

Golden Peep™ border forsythia (Forsythia x intermedia 'Courdijau'): A compact, rounded form reaching 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 feet high, bright yellow flowers, fall color has a tinge of purple.

Lynwood border forsythia (Forsythia x intermedia 'Lynwood'): A popular upright form reaching 6 to 8 feet high, considered a very heavy bloomer with bright yellow flower that open very wide and are well distributed along the branch. Fall color is yellow with a purple-tinge.

Show Off border forsythia (Forsythia x intermedia ''Mindor'): Upright to rounded form,  5 to 6 feet high and wide, lemon yellow bell-shaped flowers along stems

Spectabilis border forsythia (Forsythia x intermedia 'Spectabilis'): A large vigorous grower reaching 10 feet tall, bright yellow flowers are borne in the leaf axils.  One of the more hardier hybrids.

Spring Glory border forsythia (Forsythia x intermedia 'Spring Glory): - An 8 to 10 feet high shrub with abundant deep yellow blooms. Flower buds are susceptible to late season frost. 

Location of Forsythia x intermedia (Border forsythia) at the Arboretum

We do not seem to have this in our living collection.