Forsythia shrubs are enormously popular for their cheerful early spring flowers. If you have this shrub and are confused about how to prune it, you're not alone. This is one of the most mal-treated shrubs around.
The reason – it's a shrub that gets big, but it's usually planted in a spot that's too small. The result: you shear it or whack it back and hope that will make it smaller. But nature has the last word. (Doesn't she always?) Pruning stimulates more growth, and plants grow to a height and width that's genetically programmed. For forsythia shrubs, that's 7 to 10 feet tall and wide.
So what do people do to forsythias that are shoehorned into just 4 or 5 feet of ground? They prune them into unsightly balls, squares or hamburger buns, when in fact this shrub's growth habit is naturally arching and vase-shaped.
For better-looking forsythia shrubs, here's how and when to prune the right way.
© Yvonne Cunnington, Country Gardener