Forsythia Shrub: How To Grow, Care, Plant Forsythia Bush (Golden Bells)

Georgette Kilgore headshot, wearing 8 Billion Trees shirt with forest in the background.Written by Georgette Kilgore

Gardening | March 28, 2024

Person wishes for a forsythia shrub guide that explains when to prune forsythia bush for more golden bells, how to prune, care for types of forsythia, propagation, and forsythia hedge ideas.

Nothing says it’s springtime like the blooming Forsythia shrub, bursting in color right when you want it to. As an early blooming plant, the bright golden shades are visible sometimes even when there are still traces of snow.

Besides sprucing up your home, you also get versatility with this bush, whether it is a focal point, a foundation plant, or a flower garden, and what’s more is the fact that it can thrive in a massive range of conditions, something that not all landscaping trees can do.

Experts have extensively experimented with hybrids to create perfect cultivars according to your needs, that is why there is a Forsythia shrub for virtually everyone. Need one for urban gardening?

There are new breeds that are more compact and manageable. What about a different color? You have multiple options to choose from, as well.

This guide explains the types of Forsythia shrub varieties you can plant, as well as how to ensure that yours thrive with proper care tips and pruning techniques that will increase the Gold Bells blooms.

How To Propagate Forsythia: Growing a Forsythia Shrub From a Seed, Cutting, or Seedling

What better way to have your own or multiply your current Forsythia supply than by propagating some? Ideally, you can plant one from stem cuttings,7 but there are many other alternative methods.

From Stem Cuttings

Select a mature, healthy, vibrant-looking Forsythia that you want to propagate and chop off a 4-10 inch cutting to make sure that the cherub has previously flowered and there are leaves on the stem.

Expose around 2 inches at the bottom, which you will plant in a container filled with potting mix.

Graphic of a Forsythia shrub identification, showing images of Forsythia leaves, Forsythia flowers, and Forsythia bark, alongside a U.S. climate zone map and temperature chart relevant for the plant's growth.

Mist the snip every day until you see the roots showing up in like a month. You can later transplant to a bigger container or final location in the ground.

From Seed

The problem with this method is that many of the Forsythia are hybrids, meaning that it becomes a challenge for them to produce seeds. If there are no brown capsules after flowering, chances are high that you have a sterile Forsythia.

There are also very slim chances of getting the same plant as the parent breed, not to mention that it will be quite a long process. But, if you believe in your green thumb and want to take the chance, you will need to plant several seeds 4-6 inches apart in potting mix.

Make sure that you dig them just under the surface, maybe only ⅛ inches deep. Water them and place them under the sun, and you should see them germinating in a matter of time.

From Seedlings

Although not the conventional way to go, you can also plant Forsythia seedlings after they have germinated and established themselves. You can pick some in nurseries, take them home, then repot or plant them directly in the ground, as long as the soil is rich and well-draining.

Planting Tips for Forsythia Hedge

The Forsythia is quite a rewarding plant, and it can be fulfilling to watch your breathtaking flowers blooming in spring.

A dense, vibrant yellow blossoms of a Forsythia bush in full bloom.

(Image: ASSY14)

The following planting tips for Forsythia shrub will help make planting a breeze for you.

When To Plant Forsythia Shrub for the Best Yield

The perfect time to plant Forsythia, or any flowering plant for that matter, is either towards the end of fall or early on in spring. It all depends on your hardiness zone or the prevailing weather conditions.

Where To Plant Forsythia Bush

You can plant your Forsythia wherever you want as long as the conditions are right, but most importantly, you have to make sure that it is under the full sun. It will still survive in partial sunlight but the blooms will be fewer and not as bright.

How Far Apart To Plant Forsythia Shrub

You will decide for yourself how you want to space out your plants, provided they are not too overcrowded. If you are hoping to make a more formal hedge, 1.5-2 feet will do, but conversely, you can space them 3 or more feet apart.3

Best Growing Conditions for Forsythia Shrub

You want nothing but the most eye-catching flowers that grow healthy and stay strong all through the year. The secret is to make sure that you provide your plant with everything that it needs.

Watering Needs for Forsythia Shrub

The reason why the Forsythia is a great plant choice is due to its low maintenance qualities.8 Just like many drought tolerant trees that you would want to plant, the shrub doesn’t need that much watering.

Watering once a week will be enough, if there is no rainfall, but for saplings that are yet to establish themselves, you could water twice a week.

Sunlight Requirements for Forsythia

How much sunlight does Forsythia shrub need each day? For the best results, where the plant grows effortlessly with stunning vivid flowers, you should provide at least 6 hours of direct sunlight daily; otherwise, the blossoms will grow dull.

How To Prune Forsythia and When To Prune Forsythia

Considering the fact that Forsythia is a fast grower, it is only a matter of time before it gets out of shape, growing and shooting out wildly. Pruning is perhaps the only maintenance you will have to do on your plant if you want to maintain the aesthetics and, of course, keep it healthy.

A wooden stairway beside vibrant yellow forsythia shrubs in full bloom and white flowering trees under a clear blue sky.

(Image: yspark122315)

The best time to trim the shrub is in spring, after blooming; this will go a long way to boost its growth in summer.

Using a pair of pruners, you should target the older branches first, and the best way to do it is by trimming them back to the closest joints. Annual pruning will do, and while at it, make sure that you trim closer to the ground; this way, you will open up the centers while improving air circulation.

Ideal Forsythia Shrub Growing Zone

One thing about the Forsythia is that it is a fighter, able to brave various conditions. This means it can comfortably grow in a wide range of climatic conditions.

The perfect growing zones for Forsythia shrub (where to grow) are in USDA zones 5 all the way to 8. Such regions provide the right balance that the Forsythia needs, not too cold and not extremely hot.

Forsythia Shrub Growth Rate

Do you need to use the Forsythia as a privacy hedge or as a border in your home, then you will be glad to know that it is one of the fastest growers out there. With a growth rate of 2-4 feet annually, you will soon have your needs met, even when you are growing a giant cultivar.

So, all in all, how long it takes to grow Forsythia shrub should be the least of your worries.

The Forsythia Bush

One of the first plants that you will bump into when you search for bush with yellow flowers online is the Forsythia shrub. The colorful blooms in spring hardly go unnoticed and are one of the main reasons why homeowners love it.

It is one of the many deciduous flowering shrubs that are part of the olive tree family that has over the centuries been neutralized in North America and Europe, although originally hails from Eastern parts of Asia.2

Forsythia, Golden Bells

(Forsythia spp)

Forsythia shrub in an oval frame on a green background.
  • Family: Oleaceae
  • Genus: Forsythia
  • Leaf: Ovate or oblong, coarsely serrated, measuring 2- 4 inches long, arranged in an opposite pattern
  • Bark: Light brown in color with raised lenticels and shallow splits
  • Seed: Winged, occurring in large numbers inside the dry fruits
  • Blossoms: Yellow in color, either dull or bright, bell-shaped, measuring 1-1 ½ inches long
  • Fruit: Appear as brown or tan capsules with 2 cells, measuring ⅓ inches long
  • Canopy: 4-10 feet wide
  • Type: Deciduous
  • Native growing zone: USDA zones 5-8

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species Ranking

Least Concern


Image Credit: Hans19

There are so many excellent features to brag about the Forsythia plant, from its vivid golden colors to its low maintenance, easy adaptability, and fast growth rates. The flowers show up even before the foliage, giving you a full view, which pollinators also can’t get enough of.

You can use it as a privacy hedge, border, backdrop, or focal point in your home, and there are so many cultivars to pick based on the height and color that you need.

Facts To Know About Golden Bells

There is so much more beyond the vivid yellow blooms, so here are some interesting Forsythia shrub facts to know:

  1. The name Forsythia is derived from the name William Forsyth who was a Scottish horticulturalist in the 18th century.
  2. The Forsythia bush belongs to the Oleaceae family of plants, which is famously known as the olive family.
  3. Forsythia is native to Eastern parts of Asia, specifically Korea and China.
  4. The traditional Chinese healers used Forsythia to help treat colds and detoxify the body.6
  5. As for Forsythia shrub symbolism, Koreans used the flowers as symbols of love, and to date, people believe that it represents a new start (Forsythia means anticipation or excitement)

Types of Forsythia

There exists a total of 11 species of different types of Forsythia, all native to Asia, with only one species hailing from Europe. There are two main types, the Forsythia viridissima and Forsythia suspensa, from which various hybrids were created, known as the Forsythia intermedia, around the 1880s.

Close-up of a Weeping Forsythia branch featuring its yellow flowers in bloom, with emerging leaves and buds.

(Image: littlespacecase11)

1. Weeping Forsythia

(Forsythia suspensa)

One of the parent breeds of many hybrids, the Weeping Forsythia never disappoints, especially if you want a type that grows tall.

2. Sunrise

This cultivar is more manageable, able to grow to 4-6 feet high, and is known widely for its hardiness during harsh winters.

3. Lynwood Gold Forsythia Shrub

The colors of this shrub are richer and it grows more symmetrical, reaching impressive heights, as much as 10 feet high.

A Lynwood Gold Forsythia shrub in full bloom with bright yellow flowers in a park.

(Image: Krzysztof Ziarnek, Kenraiz12)

4. Arnold Giant

This one grows a little bit bigger than most other shrubs but is still compact and has a deep yellow shade, which you will love.

A Meadowlark Forsythia branch, highlighting the plant's vibrant green buds poised to bloom.

(Image: Plant Image Library17)

5. Meadowlark

Looking for a species with a high pests and disease resistance? This is the right one for you, which also grows impressively high, at 7-10 feet.

6. Gold Tide

One Forsythia shrub that is suitable for urban settings is this variety, growing to only 1-3 feet tall. It also spreads rather low, so you can use it best as a ground cover.

7. Fiesta

Ever seen a Forsythia with variegated leaves? Here is one that is famous for having green leaves with yellow centers.

A Forsythia Fiesta bush with dense, bright green foliage in a garden.

(Image: Krzysztof Ziarnek, Kenraiz13)

8. Courtasol

If you want a more dwarf species, consider this one that attains only around 2-feet height and 4-feet spread.

9. Beatrix Farrand

Another bush that reaches over 10-feet tall is this one, notable for its bright yellow flower colors and arching twigs.5

10. New Hampshire Gold

You will love the fact that this Forsythia takes a stunning deep red color during fall, and it helps that it is also cold-hardy.

How To Identify Forsythia Shrub

You may know the Forsythia as a yellow flowering bush but what about the other parts?

Here’s how to tell it apart:

Forsythia Leaves

With a closer look at the leaves, you can tell that they sort of have serrated margins, that are sometimes arranged in an opposite pattern. They measure about 2-4 inches long and are ovate or oblong in shape.

Forsythia Flower

Now onto the most fascinating part of the plant, the Forsythia has got the most captivating bright-yellow or golden bell-shaped flowers. They turn up early on in spring, even faster than the leaves do, and have got four lobes.

Forsythia Seeds

The flowers give way to the fruits after pollination. The brown or tan fruit/dry capsule, in turn, has several winged seeds inside, which are usually dispersed by the wind.

Why Your Forsythia Bush Is Not Blooming

The whole point of planting the Forsythia bush is to enjoy the impressive golden blooms, but what if your plant is not flowering after a long time? What could be the problem?

The following are the most logical explanations:

  1. It may be too cold in your region, so it may be a struggle for your plant to pull together the resources that it needs to flower.
  2. If you have planted your bush in a shaded spot where there is little or no access to direct sunlight. The goal is to give it at least 6 hours of sunlight every single day for the best results.
  3. Your plant may be getting too old to bloom, so you have to trim out the old canes or replace them with new cultivars.4,9
  4. You may have heavily mulched your plants, meaning that they may be malnourished.
  5. Maybe your plant is undergoing drought stress. You have to increase the watering intervals during the sweltering summers to prevent that.
  6. If there is an extremely high nitrogen content in the soil, it may result in more foliage growth and less flowering.

Companion Plants for Growing Forsythia Shrub

Nothing brings out the best of your Forsythia than other flowering plants, especially those of contrasting colors. Your garden will stand out when you plant tulips, lilacs, dogwood, irises, purple wisteria, magnolia, spirea, Japanese maple, and other flowering bushes as companions.

A garden scene with a radiant yellow forsythia shrub in full bloom, contrasted against the soft purples of blooming trees in the background.

(Image: Denise Davis18)

Apart from flowering bushes, you should also consider planting low-maintenance evergreen shrubs like boxwoods and holly. Their dark green colors blend nicely with the golden blossoms of the Forsythia and stay stunning together all through the year.

Common Forsythia Bush Pests

One problem to contend with when planting the Forsythia is that they are an insect’s favorite. Here are the common pests of the Forsythia shrub that you should watch out for:

  1. Two-Banded Japanese Weevil: These weevils have a distinct short snout and do a number on your plant’s leaves, feeding on parts or the entire leaves under heavy infestation.
  2. White Peach Scale: These pests appear as white spots on the plant’s branches and cause chlorosis and dieback, and in worse cases, could kill the plant.
  3. Red-Headed Flea Beetle: At only ¼ inches long, it can be tricky to spot these beetles, and it is made even worse because they lay and hatch eggs at the root level.
  4. Four-Lined Plant Bug: These creatures leave behind sunken spots on the leaves of the bush, which later develop into discolorations and later cause defoliation.

How To Stop Forsythia Bush Pests

Using natural pest control for Forsythia shrub is the best way to keep the plant and the environment safe.

A forsythia bush in a natural setting, showcasing its bright yellow flowers in full bloom.

(Image: Salicyna16)

If dealing with massive bugs, you can always pick them out by hand, but if not, you will have to use organic pesticides.

Insecticidal soaps and neem oil are known to work wonders against tiny pests, and you can also use diatomaceous earth around the base. Alternatively, you can also introduce predators like lacewings and ladybugs for certain pests.

Common Forsythia Shrub Diseases

Even though Forsythia is a generally resilient plant, it is still not immune to certain diseases.

  1. Leaf Spot: Fungal diseases like leaf spot cause spots on the leaves. In most cases, they only affect the plant’s aesthetics but cause leaf loss if the case is severe.
  2. Twig Blight: This leads to the browning, withering, and later defoliation of the plants. The whole branch may also be in danger if the case is serious.
  3. Crown Gall: Also, watch out for this bacteria that causes massive tumor-like growth on the plant parts.

How To Stop Forsythia Shrub Disease

The minute you spot weird changes in your Forsythia leaves,10 it is a sign to start treatment measures. Unfortunately, many diseases have no known cure, so that means that you have to pay more attention to Forsythia shrub disease prevention to stop them from spreading to other parts of the plant.

For instance, it is very important to remove the affected leaves and branches and burn them. Also, be careful to clean your pruning equipment and other tools.

In the long run, you will want to check that you regularly prune the bushes to promote proper air circulation.1

Are you a huge fan of striking yellow blooms? Do you have a flower garden and are looking for the ideal option to make the colors pop out?

You are in luck because the Forsythia shrub never disappoints. It is known far and wide for its vibrant golden bell-shaped flowers that show up right on time on the onset of spring and you can use it in so many ways around your home.

What’s more, is the fact that it is easy to plant and doesn’t really need a lot of your time.

Pruning is non-negotiable because it is one of the fastest and wildest growers out there.

So, you have to be ready for annual pruning to keep the shape in check and maintain the plant’s great health.

Apart from that, make sure that you plant it under the full sun if you want the most out of your bright Forsythia shrub blossoms.

Frequently Asked Questions About Forsythia Shrub

When Do Forsythia Bloom?

Forsythia is one of the earliest shrubs to bloom in spring. The flowers come even earlier than the leaves showcasing a fantastic display of bright yellow bell-shaped flowers.

How Can You Force Forsythia Branches To Bloom?

To encourage indoor forsythia branches to bloom, cut the stems at a 45-degree angle for optimal water absorption and set them in lukewarm water near a sunny window, ensuring you regularly replace the water to prevent bacteria. This “forcing” method mimics spring conditions, making the flowers to open sooner.

Are Forsythia Shrub Roots Invasive?

Although not as invasive as other notorious plant species, the Forsythia is a pretty fast grower whose roots will spread rather fast. However, this should not be a problem if planted in the right spot or you want a thick bush, but it may be an issue when you want to uproot it later.


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4Loughrey, J. (2022, January 18). Forsythia Bush Care & Growing Guide. Garden Design. Retrieved December 12, 2023, from <>

5McAlpine, L. (2023, March 6). How to Plant and Grow Forsythia – Shrubs. Better Homes & Gardens. Retrieved December 12, 2023, from <>

6Regents of the University of Minnesota. (2018). Forsythia. University of Minnesota Extension. Retrieved December 19, 2023, from <>

7Lemmon, M. (2015, February 16). Forsythia Propagation Methods. Horticulture 202 2015. Retrieved December 19, 2023, from <>

8Jauron, R. (2006, March 22). Growing Forsythias in the Home Landscape. Iowa State University. Retrieved December 19, 2023, from <>

9University of New Hampshire. (2020, Febraury 27). When and how do you prune an overgrown forsythia? University of New Hampshire. Retrieved December 19, 2023, from <>

10Mahr, S. (2023). Forsythia, Forsythia spp. Wisconsin Horticulture. Retrieved December 19, 2023, from <>

11Weeping Forsythia Golden Bell Photo by littlespacecase. Public Domain. Cropped, Resized and Changed Format. iNaturalist. Retrieved January 3, 2024 from <>

12Forsythia LynwoodGold Photo by Krzysztof Ziarnek, Kenraiz. Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International / CC BY-SA 4.0 Deed. Resized and Changed Format. Wikimedia Commons. Retrieved January 3, 2024 from <>

13Forsythia Fiesta Photo by Krzysztof Ziarnek, Kenraiz. Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International / CC BY-SA 4.0 Deed. Resized and Changed Format. Wikimedia Commons. Retrieved January 3, 2024 from <>

14Forsythia Bush Yellow Photo by ASSY. Resized and Changed Format. Pixabay. Retrieved January 3, 2024 from <>

15Forsythia Bush in Park Photo by yspark1223. Resized and Changed Format. Pixabay. Retrieved January 3, 2024 from <>

16Forsythia LynwoodGold Shrub Photo by Salicyna. Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International / CC BY-SA 4.0 Deed. Resized and Changed Format. Wikimedia Commons. Retrieved January 3, 2024 from <>

17Forsythia Meadowlark Photo by Plant Image Library. Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic  / CC BY-SA 2.0 Deed. Cropped, Resized and Changed Format. Flickr. Retrieved January 3, 2024 from <>

18Image of Forsythia Shrub Provided by Denise Davis

19Photo by Hans. Resized and Changed Format. Pixabay. Retrieved January 3, 2024 from <>