Forsythia questions


Hello there
Can you help me answering these questions please
1) Are there different kind of Forsythia shrub? What I want, something that grow vertically not horizontally and the height should not be more than 5-7 feet. If there is something like that what is called?
2) How the leave look like during summer and fall? green or yellow
3) How the shrub look like in Winter? Just woods (branches) not leaves?
4) Where to find small plants. I looked for one last summer and they all sell big one.

Thank you very much.


There are several varieties of Forsythia, but unfortunately none that have a tall and narrow growth habit.  Some of the newer varieties are low growing, rounded shrubs while the varieties we are most familiar with form large clumps that can range from 5 feet by 5 feet, up to 10 feet in height and 10 feet across.   These large Forsythia need regular pruning for size and shapeliness – they are a fast-growing shrub.  It is possible to drastically cut back Forsythia into a narrower shape, but this will destroy the natural arching shape of its branches, and may also inhibit blooming.

Forsythia’s most spectacular season is spring, when it is in bloom.  In summer, the leaves are dark green and the shrub’s foliage is quite dense, so it is often chosen for privacy.  In late autumn the leaves fall and the Forsythia branches are bare throughout the winter.  You will be able to observe that next season’s flower buds are already in place.

One popular variety, generally available, is Forsythia “Northern Gold” which is very hardy in our climate (flower buds of less hardy varieties can be killed by extremely cold temperatures).  Northern Gold grows into a mature size of approximately 6 feet tall by 5 feet across so it may be wider than your space can accommodate.  You should be able to find Forsythia at all major large nurseries and garden centres in the spring, which is when the largest selection will be available. This is when you are most likely to find smaller plants.  You will want to read the plants’ labels carefully for mature size (height and width).  The varieties you will find in garden centres will likely have been chosen for cold hardiness in our climate.

The spring flowering shrubs that are available are typically not tall and narrow – rather, their natural habit is to be as wide as they are tall – so it is difficult to suggest alternatives.  If you have a narrow space to fill, and you want some colourful interest, you might consider one of the golden evergreen varieties that you will find in the larger nurseries.  There are also compact and narrow columnar varieties of Flowering Crabapple available, which have beautiful spring blossoms (but they do grow taller than 7 feet). Or, if it appeals to you, one of the smaller standard Hydrangeas, such as Hydrangea Paniculata, which is readily available in garden centres.  It is a compact, shapely tree with lovely flowers in summer.  Finally, you might consider a Dogwood (Cornus spp.).  Although these multi-stemmed shrubs have a natural rounded form, growing to about 8 feet tall by 7 feet wide, they can be pruned for height and breadth:  look for red osier (deep red stems in winter), Siberian (showy white flowers in spring/red stems in winter) or variegated dogwood (green and white foliage).