So, you want to grow weeping forsythia.
The bright yellow brush grows up to 10 feet tall and offers cascading flowering vines that provide plenty of plant coverage.
It can be used as a privacy plant, bordering brush, and even a centerpiece to attract wildlife to your garden.
And, it thrives on neglect. Even the most inexperienced gardener will have no problems caring for F. suspena.
Let’s learn about taking care of this plant and how you can make it part of your landscape.
Quick care guide: Weeping Forsythia
|Plant type||Deciduous perennial|
|Scientific name||Forsythia suspensa|
|Other names||Golden bell|
|Soil pH||5.6-8.5 (acidic to alkaline)|
|Sunlight requirement||Full sun (recommended), partial sun|
|Bloom season||Spring, summer|
|Colors||Green, yellow, white|
|Max height||10 feet|
|Max width||15 feet|
|Ideal temperature range||50-80F|
|Watering requirements||Often during first year of growth, spring, and summer|
|Fertilizer requirements||Low to none|
|Days until germination||30-90 days|
|Days until bloom||Many years|
|Speed of growth||Fast|
|Hardiness zones||5, 6, 7, 8, 9|
|Plant spacing||120 inches|
|Propagation||Seeds, division, cuttings, over water|
|Common pests||Tarnished plant bugs, nematodes, weevils|
|Common diseases||Leaf rot, leaf spot, yellow leaves|
|Grown in container||No|
|Uses||Decoration, color, centerpiece, pathing, bordering, background plant, foreground plant|
What’s weeping forsythia?
Weeping forsythia, scientifically known as Forsythia suspensa, is a large shrub that has bright yellow blossoms.
It grows up to a whopping 10 feet and is relatively easy to care for.
Note that Forsythia suspensa is a parent species of a hybrid shrub called border forsythia. It’s easy to get them confused.
Regardless, in this plant guide, we’ll be focusing on weeping forsythia- the one with the large yellow flowers that grows in the mid temperate zones (5-9).
It prefers the higher zones because it doesn’t like cold temperatures. So if you’re in a warmer region, weeping forsythia just may be the large shrub you’re looking for.
Where does it grow?
F. suspensa is found all over the US. It originates from China but has become naturalized all over the states.
It grows near banks and can be found in Asia, North America, Canada, and other areas where it grows in the wild.
Because of its hardy nature in the right zones, this shrub will grow on its own without human intervention.
It’s very easy to care for because it takes care of itself. This is why it’s beginner-friendly!
How to grow weeping forsythia
Here in our plant guide, we’ll cover some general guidelines to plant, grow, and care for weeping forsythia.
Depending on your location, you may need to tweak them just a bit to suit your plant’s needs.
However, they should cover the majority of hardiness zones and let your plant prosper.
Let’s learn about these gentle giants and how to care for F. suspensa!
Propagating weeping forsythia
There are a few different ways to propagate forsythia. We’ll focus on stem cuttings and seeds.
Starting from seed
Starting from seed is a lengthy process, but if you’re up for the challenge, you can get a packet of them and start sowing indoors anytime.
You don’t have to wait for a certain time to start because they will need much time to germinate.
Note that NOT all forsythia plants produce seeds.
If you’re buying a hybrid plant, it may not have any seeds coming out of the flowers. Additionally, seeds have a low germination rate.
So you shouldn’t expect the seeds to sprout.
Seeds can be collected by using the seedpods that develop after the bloom of the flowers. This is usually around the springtime. Sterile hybrids won’t produce any pods.
Sow the seeds in a container with 6 inches of space between each one and 0.25” of soil.
When you transplant them into the garden, space each plant 120 inches apart.
Place them in a bright location and water. Cover with a humidity dome.
Keep the soil moist, but never wet. The seedlings can be translated to your garden in the springtime after they’re done germinating.
Wait until the autumn to find a cane that’s well developed and tough. Use a sterilized pair of pruners (you can use some rubbing alcohol to do so), then snip off the top 3 inches of the cane.
This should be the part of the cane that’s extremely narrow and easy to cut. Don’t cut the sturdier portion just yet.
Next, cut the cane on the opposite end cleanly. The cane should have varying diameters, but there will be small portions where the new foliage grows.
These don’t flower buds. They’re leaf nodes. The cuts should be just about a half-inch below each node so the stem sections have nodes nearby.
The top cuts should be the same distance above each node.
So now you should have a sturdy cane with cuts above and below each node. The stem section can now be placed into some rooting hormone or gel to encourage rooting.
Take each cutting carefully and place them into sterilized containers each with high quality, well-draining potting mix.
Space them about 6 inches apart inside the container. Then move the container with the new cuttings inside your garage or greenhouse.
Let them sit there until spring comes. They’ll root slowly over time.
When the springtime comes, check each piece for rot. If you see mildew or rot, dispose of it. Check other stems to make sure they’re clean.
Move them to their new home and plant them in groups of 3 or so with 120 inches between each stem. This will be their permanent location.
You can group them as low as 36 inches apart, but they’ll grow as a bunch. It’s up to you how you want to space.
Water generously at first to establish water pathways. Then water regularly afterwards. See the watering section for more details.
Weeping forsythia grows best in USDA hardiness zones 5 and higher.
It grows in the fringe zones, so zones 5-9 are best suited for F. suspensa.
Although it can be grown in higher zones, lower ones don’t fare well. This shrub is sensitive to cold temperatures which can halt the plant’s growth or volume.
Use well-draining soil, as you’ve probably read many times now in different growing guides.
It’s imperative to weeping forsythia because it’s prone to fungal infections if the soil doesn’t drain.
Since it’s a large shrub, it’ll also need the soil to drain well over time. The plant appreciates some high-quality, nutrient-rich dirt that has water-retaining properties.
You can put down a layer of pebbles, rocks, or sand to help encourage the water to drain.
Other than that, weeping forsythia tolerates a wide variety of soil types and conditions. It’s quite hardy and forgiving of mistakes.
Soil can be amended with sand, leaf litter, or compost to help improve drainage.
Using soil that’ll allow water to run off rather than pool under the roots is a requirement, not an option.
Consider planting it on a slope to help improve drainage.
Weeping forsythia tolerates dry spells but will need more water during periods of no rain or drought.
Water more during the summertime and less during rainy seasons. If you’re growing it in zones 5-8, it should be fine with regular weekly waterings.
Do not overwater because this can lead to molds and rot, especially if you don’t prune it.
Overall, this shrub rarely needs your maintenance and will do fine with few watering sessions. This plant will thrive in neglect.
Weeping forsythia is a full sun plant.
It can grow in shade or partial sunlight, but to get the most of its volume and gorgeous arching blossoms, full sun is best.
It also helps dry up any leftover or excess water. This will help prevent rot or fungal problems.
Note that while you can grow forsythia in shade, it should be preferable to place it in the sun unless you have no sunny locations.
Grow it in full sun for best results.
Weeping forsythia doesn’t need plant food or fertilizer. If you notice that the foliage isn’t healthy, you can supplement it with some nitrogen-rich fertilizer.
General-purpose fertilizer doses over the root zone should do the trick. The foliage and stems are only in bloom for a short period.
Once it’s done and the flowers are spent, it’s pretty plain looking for the rest of the time. The foliage and stems are bland after being spent.
So you may want to consider encouraging the bloom time with all-purpose plant food.
This shrub grows best between 65-85F. It can withstand some heat, but not so much the cold.
So it grows best in warmer climates above zone 5. If the temps drop below 65F, you may have to add 3 inches of mulch to the soil to insulate it.
Weeping forsythia prefers humid environments that are not too wet.
Keep humidity on the higher end, but overdoing it will lead to wilt or rot. Keep it pruned and use well-draining soil to prevent mold.
If it’s too dry, it won’t bloom or flower.
Although it can tolerate some periods of drought, don’t rely on it to do it for extended dry seasons.
Weeping forsythia, like most shrubs, will require regular pruning and maintenance to keep it looking tidy and free of pests.
The plant must be weeded regularly and pruned. Pruning helps remove any excess foliage that would otherwise contribute to high humidity.
A lot of wild petals block sunlight from reaching the innermost parts of the plant. This leads to the pooling of water and could bring on fungal infections or rot.
A well-pruned shrub will have a neat and tidy appearance with sunlight penetrating it on all sides.
This evaporates any excess water and helps keep it dry. Remove any debris like grass, leaf litter, sticks, and other waste. This will help keep the soil dry and also naturally deter pests.
Another thing to note is that forsythia tends to tip root. You should prevent this with regular maintenance cause if you don’t, your shrub can grow a huge slab of foliage which blocks sunlight at the base.
The canes that develop will run close to the soil and then blossom into a new shrub.
This makes it easy to propagate weeping forsythia. You can do a clean cut between the original and new plant to get a whole new shrub.
The newly formed plant will have adventitious roots that are tied to canes from the original host plant. You can detect it and then plant it anywhere you want.
Other than that, forsythia requires very little pruning.
Even if you fully neglect it for a long time, it’ll be OK and ready for a haircut the next time you’re around.
Some common pests that eat forsythia are Tarnished plant bugs, nematodes, weevils, and a few larger animals like deer.
It is not deer resistant, but rather attracts deer to your garden or landscape.
Smaller pests can be controlled using insecticides and regular pruning. Keeping it dry and well-trimmed will help reduce water pooling.
Forsythia is hardy and only has a major problem with rot, leaf spot, and yellow leaves.
These are fungal issues that stem from poor water drainage. Keep the shrub clean, tidy, and organized to prevent water pooling.
While it does need water, it’s capable of handling dryness/drought. So don’t overwater.
Let the water dry and reduce watering to handle these issues. Keep it well pruned and trim off excess foliage so it can get rid of extra water lying there.
Weeping forsythia is commonly used as a privacy hedge or border plant.
They can be paired with each other to build groups of pretty yellow border shrubs or they can be used as singular plants to block off windows or property lines.
These shrubs will grow up then sideways, so you can cover a lot of space with just a few shrubs.
The twigs are pliable, so you can flex them and then tie them down with twine to shape your shrub.
You can also use stakes or a trellis to help give your plant the look you want.
After the bloom is done, weeping forsythia is pretty plain. So keep this in mind when you’re deciding where to plant it.
Consider planting it near the back of a group of shrubs.
Or at the top of a retaining wall so the canes will climb down and cascade over it.
You can also plant it somewhere farther rather than nearby so you don’t have to see the spent blossoms.
Remember, it’s a shrub. So it’s best used for shrub-like purposes.
Weeping forsythia pairs well with other tall shrubs.
Redbud and Yoshino are both good companion plants by offering a contrast to the forsythia.
You can also consider bridal wrench spirea, daffodils, and flowering quince. Anything that’s pink, violet, or red pairs well as a companion plant.
Azaleas, Forget Me Not, Grape Hyacinth or Drumstick Primula are also good choices for planting next to weeping forsythia.
Cowslip or another forsythia can be paired together.
Overwintering weeping forsythia
As mentioned earlier, the shrub doesn’t like cold temperatures. In zones 6 to 9, forsythia does OK and no intervention is needed.
However, zone 5 (and sometimes 4) will require you to add additional mulch to the soil. This will help protect the root from damage.
3 inches of mulch should be enough, but add more if cold weather is forecasted. Mulch should be added in the autumn then removed in the spring.
If your shrub is smaller, you can use a plant wrap to keep it protected.
Common care questions
Here are some questions about forsythia care asked by readers.
You may find these tips and tricks beneficial in caring for your shrub.
How much sun does a forsythia need?
Weeping forsythia is a full sun brush.
Even though it grows in shade, you’ll want to give it full sun to produce more and larger blooms. Shaded or partial plants may not produce flowers.
How fast do forsythia bushes grow?
When does forsythia bloom?
Weeping forsythia blooms in the late winter or spring. The leaves will begin to unfurl before it blooms.
Where is the best place to plant forsythia?
It does best in the background in a group of similarly-sized bushes. It also can be used as a bordering plant.
Is forsythia drought tolerant?
Yes, it can withstand periods of drought. It doesn’t need a lot of water and will thrive on neglect, which makes it a good choice for beginners.
How long do forsythia blooms last?
The blooms will last from spring to summer. The rest of the year is pretty plain. This is why you should plant it in the background.
- Forsythia windswept/semi cascade – Houzz
- Cutting back forsythia – Houzz
- Forsythia suspensa – Wikipedia
Enjoy your cascading shrub!
You now have a foundation of knowledge.
You can now grow and care for weeping forsythia like a pro!
This shrub doesn’t need much of your time and it’ll blossom into a multiple foot tall bush for you to enjoy with those gorgeous yellow flowers.
What do you think? Where will you plant yours? Do you have any tips or tricks for forsythia care?
Let us know in the comments section below.
I’ve always been interested in gardening, but I never took it seriously until I was forcefully gifted an orchid. This was what got me into the hobby and I’ve never looked back. I enjoy writing about it, but not nearly as much as getting into the dirt and sculpting the perfect decorative ornamental to enjoy for the times.