March Blooms in my Georgia Garden: Forsythia

Known by many as  the harbinger of Spring, Forsythia explodes with bright yellow blooms in very early Spring, or sometimes even in late Winter here in Georgia. Forsythia blooms reliably every single winter, no matter what the weather conditions have been. I have seen the blooms of Forsythia open as early as January or February, or not until March, depending on what kind of Winter we are having.

Forsythia is a deciduous shrub that blooms in late winter or very early Spring with bright yellow blooms that open before leaves appear. The common name, Yellow Bells, seems fitting, because the blooms do look like yellow bells dangling along the stems. 

Although Forsythia is widely grown in gardens all over the Unites States, it is native to China. 

Forsythia blooms well even in shade
Bloom seems to be most prolific when grown in full sun, but we have a few plants growing in the woods where the bright golden yellow blooms are visible from a distance and draw attention to the woodland garden.

Forsythia does not self-sow and become invasive in the landscape, but stem cuttings root easily if you want to make more plants for your garden.

Forsythia grows very large over time (8-10 feet tall and up to 12 feet wide), so
give it plenty of room. The cascading branches are lovely when allowed to grow naturally with no pruning. Stems will root themselves when allowed to touch the ground, and this is an easy way to get more Forsythia plants. Pruning isn't necessary or desired, except to remove old woody growth or dead wood. When pruning, remove old branches to the ground, making room for the growth of new stems. This should be done in Spring, immediately after flowering, since Forsythia will bloom next Spring on the stems from the previous year.

Forsythia, also known as Golden Bells, can be grown in most of the United States, since it is hardy in USDA Zones 5-10.

Forsythia is a fast grower, so you can start with a very small plant. The Forsythia shrubs in our garden have proven to be very drought tolerant and are growing in poor soil that was not amended at planting. 

Forsythia is a great shrub for forcing bloom indoors before it would bloom outdoors. I like to cut long stems in early January and place them in a large vase of warm water. I can watch the buds develop into blooms that will open indoors much earlier than they would outside, reminding me that Spring is coming!

Loropetalum Zhuzhou 
Purple Loropetalum is a beautiful companion for Forsythia. Not only do they bloom at the same time, but even the foliage will provide nice contrast in the garden--Loropetalum with its purple foliage is striking against the bright green leaves of the Forsythia. You'll have to imagine this vision, since I failed to get a photograph of the two together when in bloom. 

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