How to Grow and Care for a Forsythia Bush

Learn how to pick out the best forsythia bush for your region, how long the bright yellow flowers last and why your forsythia is not blooming.

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Forsythia Bush Growing Tips

Yellow forsythia cmannphoto/Getty Images
Yellow forsythia bush

When a forsythia bush blooms, it’s a sure sign that warmer weather is on the way. Forsythia is one of the earliest bushes to bloom in spring, making its bell-shaped golden flowers a welcome sight.

Forsythia is a fast-growing, large shrub that thrives in Zones 4-8. Here’s how to find your plant zone. It will grow to be 8 to 10 feet high, though there are dwarf varieties available and it can be pruned for size. Give this plant a try as a hedge that’ll put on a spectacular show in the spring.

For best results, grow forsythia in well-drained soil with regular moisture and in full sun to part shade.

Forsythia can bloom as early as late January or early February in warmer zones. It’ll bloom through late March in colder zones. The sunny yellow blooms last for 10 to 14 days. After the flowers fade, dark green leaves emerge.

Blooms develop in late summer and early fall for the following year, so the shrub should be pruned immediately after flowering in the spring for best results.

Check out the top 10 flowering bushes for your yard.

Forsythia Bird Benefits

Brown thrasher in forsythiaBill Leaman
Brown thrasher in a forsythia bush

Place seed feeders near forsythia and other shrubs so birds can wait their turn for a snack or safely hide from backyard predators.

Check out the top 10 trees and shrubs with berries to create a bird-friendly backyard.

Why Is My Forsythia Bush Not Blooming?

Branches of a blooming Forsythia covered with snow.Christian Ader/Getty Images
Forsythia covered in snow

My forsythia had flowers for the past two years, but only on the bottom of the shrub. What’s wrong with it?” asks Janet Grosse of Madison, Wisconsin.

Gardening expert Melinda Myers weighs in: “This is a common problem for those of us growing forsythia in colder climates. Even though the plant tolerates the winter cold, the dormant flower buds that form during the previous summer are often killed.”

Melinda has recommendations for cold-hardy cultivars that’ll thrive in areas with more intense winters: “In the future, select forsythia cultivars, such as Northern Sun, Show Off Starlet, Gold Cluster or Fiesta. They all have hardy flower buds that can withstand colder weather.”

You can try other cultivars to fit your needs, too. Northern Gold is an upright grower and Meadowlark is fast-growing with an arching form. For a cultivar that’ll thrive in warmer climates, opt for Spring Glory.

Next, check out this list of invasive shrubs you should never plant.

Jill Staake
Jill lives in Tampa, Florida, and writes about gardening, butterflies, outdoor projects and birding. When she's not gardening, you'll find he reading, traveling and happily digging her toes into the sand on the beach.