forthysia tree without blooms in the spring

(Question)

I live in King/Dufferin area of Toronto. My forthysia is planted in sun in the front yard and is about 4 ft in height.It appears on the right side of the front yard in the picture…. beautiful and GREEN. I have never been able to enjoy the full bloom in spring that I see everywhere in my neighbourhood. I have tried fertilizer for spring and a different one for fall (spike type) I have pruned drastically and not all. I have dug in the earth around it to ‘shock’ it and gotten one small bloom on one branch….I am totally frustrated. Can you help me? Should I do something this fall to get the beautiful blooms in the spring.

(Answer)

Dear gardener,

It is indeed very frustrating when you do not get the flowers in a spring shrub. Unfortunately, I cannot see the picture you mentioned to see what variety it is but, I think I may be able to help.

Forsythias bloom on one year old wood (i.e. new wood that grew the previous season) and therefore, are best to prune immediately after they finish flowering (around May in your area). If you prune outside that period, you will be cutting away next year’s blooms.

I am not sure how old your shrub is but it is best to leave the plant alone when young. As it matures, you want to prune away the older stems to the ground or to a vigorous branch originating low in the plant, depending on the variety; also prune any branch that is overcrowding the shrub in the center, as well as any dead or diseased ones to the ground. This process may be done annually as the flowers fade. When pruning, always keep in mind to keep the shrub in a good, natural form.

It is best not to spend your money in fertilizers which add lots of salt to the soil but instead, amend your soil with compost, composted manure or triple mix. All add good nutrition to your garden and keep a healthy soil structure.

Hope you find this information helpful,