Pruning forsythia

Discussion in 'HortForum' started by sunshade, Sep 3, 2009.

  1. sunshade

    sunshade Member

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    When is the best time to prune forsythia? With the ideal growing conditions this summer mine have become enormous!
     
  2. Ron B

    Ron B Esteemed Contributor 10 Years

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    Large-growing kinds have a fountain-like habit when allowed to develop normally. This is much more elegant and appealing than when they are sheared into geometric shapes or lopped off above an arbitrary level. Naturalistic pruning involves occasional cutting out of entire, oldest canes near the ground. Some remaining growths can be selectively pruned out to tidy up or reduce size here and there, such as where the shrub might have grown through or over a neighboring specimen or an access route. But not much lopping back of branches part way can be done without disrupting their outline and producing a stiff or stubby appearance. If the planting has become overwhelming it might be best to remove and replace with a more suitable choice for the location. You could also cut the whole thing down low, to start over from the roots. Done at long intervals this renovation pruning might be a viable option. It depends on the specifics involved, if the space is really too tight for shrubs of this vigor and stature they will soon be exceeding it again even when cut entirely down.

    Pruning of these is generally best undertaken immediately after flowering, so as not to interfere with the floral display for that or the coming year (the flower buds are set during summer and then overwinter, to open the following spring). Where removing flower buds is not a concern, it could be done any time.
     
  3. M. D. Vaden

    M. D. Vaden Active Member 10 Years

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    How big is enormous? And how big do you want them to be?

    I think that some people would have better maintained Forsythia if they did not prune them once per year, but with some pruning at least twice per year.
     
  4. sunshade

    sunshade Member

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    Thanks for the responses. I sort of knew that about the buds being set the previous growing season, but it seems to me I have had very few flowers on these huge leafy branches in the past: this year's growth well over 9 feet tall. However, I will leave it alone for now, and wait to see what blooms next spring.
     

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