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.
All common names:
Tree or Plant Type:
- Large shrub (more than 8 feet),
- Medium shrub (5-8 feet),
- Small shrub (3-5 feet)
- Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)
- Zone 5 (Chicago),
- Zone 6,
- Zone 7
- 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:
Shape or Form:
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
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.