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by Cass Turnbull

I guess we all cut our pruner's teeth on forsythias.  Like many plants in the “cane-grower” category, these shrubs are planted mostly for their flowers, not for their form.  They do have a reasonably nice fall coloring which many people tend to forget.  The yellow blooms on forsythias come out in February or March, and they flower before their leaves emerge.  After the long drab, gray winter, the sight of these bright yellow explosions lifts our spirits.  I like to prune forsythias just before they bloom (and bring some branches in to force in a vase of water).  Because of it, I get a lot of people asking, “Isn't the right time to prune just after blooming?”  Well, no, not unless you are cutting a forsythia to the ground or shearing it (ick).  More on timing later.

Radical Renovation


The other thing people never seem to grasp is that all plants, including forsythias have a height and width that is genetically programmed into them, and pruning really can't keep them under a certain size (for any reasonable time).  That size for most forsythias is seven to ten feet tall and about as wide.  When you buy a plant at the nursery, it's just a fraction of it's adult size.  You imagine the shrub will grow to about 5' tall and 4' wide and put it in a place that such a shrub would fit.  Eventually, quite soon in fact, it doesn't.  Fit that is.   >>more...

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