Thursday, April 05, 2012

Forsythia : You Can Grow That!

I received so many encouraging comments on my "You Can Grow That" post about espalier fruit trees last month, that I have been looking forward to joining C.L. Fornari of Whole Life Gardening, in this month's edition of "You Can Grow That".

At first I planned to write about strawberries in the garden, but I may save that for a future post.  Instead, I have been admiring the cheery yellow blooms of forsythia all around the city, and have chosen that for today's topic.

You can grow forsythia, and if you know of any bushes in your area, you can start your own very economically.  Forsythia cuttings can be easily rooted in water.  So all you need to do is clip a twig or two, and set them in a vase.  Soon they will be sprouting and likely will send out roots.  Once the roots are visible, the forsythia can be planted out into the garden, and will quickly grow into a shrub.  I have a forsythia plant behind my compost boxes (see photo below), which was started this way, a couple of years ago.

Although you can cut a flowering twig, and both enjoy the blooms, and then the greenery which will quickly develop, the best time to take a cutting is once the blooms have disappeared, and the plant is directing its energy into growth.  No growth hormones or special treatment are required.
Although the forsythia naturally grows as a floppy bush, it can be trimmed into a hedge, as I see in many yards.  It can also be grown as a standard.  I discovered a wonderful example some years ago while driving, not far from home, and have a photo somewhere of this wonderful forsythia standard in bloom.  I returned the following year to discover that it was gone, replaced by a very small forsythia twig, which the owner appeared to be training in standard form.  I wondered if the wonderful one I had seen had been damaged, and he/she was starting over, or whether it was so beautiful that someone had bought or relocated it.  I never did find out.

I don't know how much work it would be to trim and train it into standard form, but since it grows quite vigorously and is flexible and easy to trim, I don't imagine it would be difficult, if one had patience to wait for the result.  With some diligence at supporting the stem so that it grows straight, trimming away any other stems or lower branches, and trimming the upper branches into a globular shape, but you should be able to grow that, too.  Some day I want to give it a try.  When I'm ready, I can take a cutting from the bush behind my compost bins.

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