How to Prune Forsythia & Other Spring Flowering Shrubs with Pots & Trowels

There’s still pruning you can be undertaking in the garden right now if you have some spring flowering shrubs like forsythia that need rejuvenating in your borders. Its amazing golden yellow flowers are great for providing colour early in the season when there’s not an awful lot about to provide some colour. However, if your forsythia bush is a little out of control then now is a great time to tame it and get it under control.

In their latest video, our friend Martin Fish of Pots & Trowels takes you through the process of tackling pruning your unwieldy forsythia. You can watch the video below, or keep reading for all the tips, tricks and equipment you need to give it some TLC.

If you do have a forsythia in your garden then be sure to keep on top of pruning it rather than letting it grow as it pleases for years – give it a light trim after a couple of seasons, or even in the first year, to keep it nice, bushy and more compact but still with masses of flowers. If you let it get out of hand after years of neglect and then give it a hard cut back on the thick stems, it’ll lead it to produce a mass of tall vertical shoots which will only make the bush even bigger and more unruly. Forsythia also flower on the previous season’s two and three year-old wood, so you don’t want to do too much hard pruning because that will promote strong growth that won’t necessarily flower the following year.

So whether you’re ready for your yearly routine prune or are preparing to tackle an unruly monster of a shrub, grab your secateurs, pruning saw and loppers and get ready to tackle pruning your forsythia!

How to Prune Your Forsythia Annually

Cut back any long stems in their second year that have now flowered back by about two thirds to the nearest bud, so that they flower again next year.

If your shrub is particularly thick and congested, you can also take some of the older branches out by pruning them a little bit further back so that they will still send out new shoots, but it means that you’re opening up the plant more so that it can get a little bit more air into it. Remove anything that’s dead, crossing branches, or anything really weak too.

Carry out this type of pruning routinely, little and often every year, to keep your shrub in tip-top shape.

How to Prune an Overgrown Forsythia

If you’ve got a forsythia that’s very overgrown then you can use a pruning saw and thin out some of the bigger, thicker branches to open it up a bit and let some more light in. Prune out some of the larger branches that are thicker than your thumb and then shape the top down a little bit. If you take out one or two lower down too, that will encourage the base growth because you want your shrub to be bushy from the base rather than bare.

Forsythias are sometimes prone to their branches flattening out in places. This phenomenon is known as fasciation, which is caused by the cells in the stem mutating. If you find any branches with flattened stems then cut them out too.

These shrubs have really soft stems and break down quickly, so if you haven’t got a green bin to put them in, then if you’ve got a shredder then they can be added to a compost bin because, mixed with some grass cuttings, they will really break down quickly and by the end of the season you’ll have some nice coarse garden compost.

This pruning applies not only to forsythia, but any early spring flowering shrubs such as Viburnum bodnantense and some of the early flowering spiraeas – all the ones that flower through March and April. Prune them as soon as they’ve finished flowering, cut some of the older wood out, and thin them out. Whatever you do, don’t get too carried away, as otherwise you’ll get lots of growth next year with no flowers.

Where to Buy Darlac Tools

Make life a little easier for yourself by using the right garden tool for the job. You can find our Darlac products in store from your local garden centre, or you can buy selected products direct online from our website. Find your local Darlac stockist here.

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