Forsythia cuttings in water

Propagating Plants From Cuttings

If you’re like most gardeners, you enjoy adding new plants to your garden. Of course, continually adding new plants can get expensive pretty quickly — but propagating plants from cuttings can help you save money. Plus, there’s a better chance that these plants will do well in your garden, as their mother plant is already a thriving part of it.

What to Cut

Most plants can be propagated from cuttings, but some do better than others. Plants like butterfly bush are propagated best from softwood cuttings — i.e. the new growth that appears in the spring. Plants like gardenias, on the other hand, grow best from greenwood cuttings, which are taken from first-year new growth but aren’t necessarily softwood.
Camellia does best when its cuttings are taken from semi-ripe growth, which usually appears in the fall. Finally, many shrubs grow best from dormant hardwood cuttings.

What You’ll Need

If you want to take cuttings, gather your materials beforehand. You’ll need sharp, sterile pruning scissors, shears, or a knife. If you plan to plant your cuttings right away, have containers filled with potting mix, vermiculite, or perlite on-hand. You may also be able to place the cuttings in water until they form roots. If that’s the case, fill up a Mason jar or vase with room-temperature water. Although it’s not required, a rooting hormone may help your cuttings establish themselves faster.

How to Propagate Cuttings

Always take cuttings from plants that are healthy (i.e. free of disease and without pest problems). You’ll want your cuttings to measure at least six inches long. To take one, make a clean cut just below the bud of the plant at a 45-degree angle. Sharp cutting tools are a must for this. Dull blades will only force you to crush and butcher the stems, making it harder for the plants to develop roots later on. Try to cut early in the morning, when the plant has the most moisture, and remember to take several cuttings. Some may root, and others may not. If you had plans to propagate six rosemary plants, taking eight or nine cuttings can help you achieve the desired number of plants.
Next, pull the lower leaves off of the cutting so you have about two or three inches of bare stem. You’ll also want to remove any flowers you find on it, but leave the top few leaves attached. The flowers may prevent the cutting from rooting, as the plant will waste energy developing seeds instead of roots.

Dip the bare part in a rooting hormone, if you wish. If you do use rooting hormone, avoid dipping your cuttings directly into the primary container. Instead, pour out a small amount in a separate cup and dip the cutting in that, submerging the bottom inch of the stem or so.
Now you’re ready to place the cuttings in a container. Use a pencil to make holes in the soil for all of your them. This will prevent any of the rooting hormones from coming off. Depending on the size of the pot you use, you may be able to root several cuttings in yours at once. Press the soil around them and then water them. Cover each one with a cloche to help it root.

Alternatively, place the entire pot in a clear plastic bag and close the top (just make sure it has enough air). This acts like a mini-greenhouse by keeping moisture and humidity in. Place the pot in a warm, sunny spot that’s out of direct sunlight.
If you keep your cuttings in a Mason jar of water, consider moving them to a spot that gets indirect sun and changing their water regularly. The benefit of placing them in water before you place them in a container with soil is that it allows you to ensure that your cuttings have grown roots before you plant them. Nonetheless, you should keep in mind that not all plants will do well being placed in water first.

Replant Cuttings Once Roots Have Developed

When the cuttings have developed roots, you’ll want to replant them in a new container with moist potting soil. If you placed them in water originally, it’ll be easy to see when they;ve developed roots. If you placed them in soil first, just give them a tug to see if their roots have formed. Cuttings that are ready to replant will give you some resistance. Those that slide right out should be left alone for a few more weeks.
Since it takes time for cuttings to form roots, it’s important be patient. Even after you’ve replanted them i,n bigger containers, keep an eye on them until they’re fully established. Look for dropped leaves, pest infestations or signs of disease. If they appear healthy after a few months, harden them off to plant them outside in the garden.

Can You Propagate Forsythia: How To Propagate Forsythia Shrubs

Forsythia bursts into bloom in late winter, well ahead of most other early-season shrubs. They look fantastic in groupings and shrub borders, and they make an attractive informal hedge. If you can’t get enough of them, this article will help you with propagating forsythia plants. Layering and cuttings are the two easiest and quickest ways of rooting a forsythia bush. Even beginners will have success with this easy-to-root plant.

Taking Forsythia Cuttings

Prepare a pot before you take your cuttings so they won’t dry out while you work. Fill the pot to within one-half inch (1.2 cm.) of the top with perlite or sand. Moisten the perlite or sand and allow the pot to drain.

In June or July, take 4 to 6 inch (10 to 15 cm.) cuttings from the tips of the current year’s growth. Remove the leaves from the lower half of the cutting and dip 2 inches (5 cm.) of the cut end in rooting hormone. Use a pencil to make a hole in the center of the pot and insert the lower end of the cutting in the hole. Make sure no leaves are under or resting on the medium (sand or perlite). Firm up the medium around the base of the cutting.

Place the potted cutting inside a plastic bag and seal it. The bag forms a little greenhouse around the cutting and keeps it from drying out. Place it in a warm location, out of direct sunlight. Keep the medium moist, and after a few days, open the top of the bag to let fresh air in. The cutting should have roots after about six to eight weeks, and you can transplant it to a larger pot.

Transplant the cutting outdoors in spring or fall after hardening it off. Hardening acclimates the plant to outdoor conditions and reduces transplant problems. Harden off forsythia cuttings by exposing them to increasingly longer periods of time outdoors over a period of two weeks.

Rooting a Forsythia Bush by Layering

Layering is perhaps the easiest way to propagate forsythia shrubs. In fact, if you aren’t careful about keeping the stems off the ground, the plant may layer itself.

Fill a large pot with potting soil and place it near the shrub. Select a stem that is long enough to reach the pot with about a foot (30 cm.) or more to spare. Wound the stem about 10 inches (25.4 cm.) from the tip by scraping it with a knife, and bury the scraped part of the stem under two inches (5 cm.) of soil with the tip remaining above the soil. You may need a stone or bent nail to hold the stem in place. Keep the soil moist at all times to encourage roots. Once the plant roots, cut the stem that connects the new plant to the parent plant.

Can You Propagate Forsythia from Seeds?

Forsythia gets off to a slow start when you germinate from seeds, but starting from seeds is an inexpensive method of getting a lot of plants. Growing from seeds gives you a sense of accomplishment and adds a deeper dimension to your gardening hobby.

You may not find forsythia seeds in your local garden center, but you can order them online or collect seeds from mature flowers. Start seeds indoors in containers any time of year.

Moisten a container filled with potting soil or seed starting medium. You don’t want it so wet that you can squeeze water from the soil because the seeds might rot. Place a few seeds on top of the soil in the container and cover them with one-quarter inch (76 mm.) of additional soil. Cover the pot with plastic wrap or place it inside a plastic bag, and place it in a warm location out of direct sunlight.

Keep the soil moist and remove the plastic when the seeds germinate. Once you remove the plastic, place the plant in a sunny location. Transplant outdoors in spring or fall.


My Garden Zone Is

Narrow Selection

Forsythias are an affordable selection for your landscape

Are you wondering where to buy shrubs that produce vibrant yellow flowers? If so, you’re in the right place. Our selection of beautiful forsythias will definitely fit the bill.

We have forsythias for sun and shade and every USDA hardiness zone. And all varieties we offer are drought tolerant and deer resistant.

Forsythias have elegant bright yellow blooms

When you’re looking for bright yellow flowers forsythias are a fantastic choice. But they provide color at other times of the year too. During fall their leaves turn a deep shade of purple or red that will perfectly complement nearby evergreens and other fall colors too.

Did you know?

Forsythias belong to the olive family (Oleaceae) and their fruits are used in traditional Chinese medicine.

Forsythias make an awesome addition to any lovely garden

Everyone deserves to have a lovely garden so we do our best to offer low prices and the best deals on our high-quality plants. We grow most of the plants we sell so we can pass on low grower prices and our forsythias are no exception.

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Pro tip:

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So if you want a great price on shrubs that produce brilliant yellow flowers and beautiful fall leaves, our forsythias are drought tolerant, deer-resistant and suitable for every US state. Grab a bargain now with prices starting at just $14.99 for two shrubs.


Looking to add a great pop of golden sunshine to your landscaping? Then look no further than the gorgeous forsythia bush.

Forsythias are fast growing, early blooming shrubs that offer beautiful golden-yellow blooms in the spring followed by dark green foliage in the summer and lighter yellow-green fall foliage. They are drought tolerant, disease and deer resistant option for your garden and landscaping. They thrive in growing zones 5-8 and will grow in most soil types. Their preference for sun exposure is a partial shade to full sun. Whether your landscaping goals are more natural, whimsical or more uniform; these bushes will meet your needs.

Left on their own, they will grow into large, weeping bushes. Their annual growth is approximately 24 inches until reaching their final height of 10 feet. At full size, they are 10-12 feet in width. For those looking for a more uniform appearance, they are trained and shaped without difficulty. Plant your bushes on their own for a flash of color or in groups to create hedges and barriers in your landscaping.

When looking to add additional color to your garden or landscape, consider planting them with other shrubs, trees, and flowers that offer lots of color contrast. When creating a barrier or hedge, it is best to plant them 4-6 feet apart.

The Forsythia is the loudest announcer that Spring has arrived. With blooms as bright yellow as they can be this shrub is a must in every yard. Very easy to grow and can even be multiplied by cuttings. Forsythia does need to be pruned. This will stop the “bad hair day” effect that they naturally grow into without care. Partial to full sun is best and zones 4-9. They are also deer resistant, great for privacy and help with soil erosion.


The Forsythia in flower.

Forsythia bushes, from the genus Forsythia, are widely used in parks and gardens and are a popular early spring flower. They are known for their bright yellow buds that bloom in the early spring before their green leaves have even appeared. The Forsythia has several species including the most common type Forsythia suspensa and Forsythia viridissma. The Forsythia bush is native to China and was named after William Forsyth who was the royal head gardener and one of the founders of the Royal Horticultural Society. Forsythia was first introduced to Europe by Robert Fortune who smuggled it out of China dressed as a Chinese peasant. In the same trip, Fortune also smuggled out the knowledge of how to grow tea and brought it to India, who was at that time a colony of the British. The weeping Forsythia bush is included on the list of the 50 fundamental herbs in Chinese herbology. It was called lian qiao, which was a combination of ground unripe yellow fruits and ground seeds. If taken internally it was used to cure chills, fevers, and headaches. However it could also be used externally for burns, infections, and rashes. This is caused by anti-inflammatory compounds in the seeds.

Forsythia is an easy way to brighten up your garden or yard in the early spring when most plants have not flowered. There is very minimal work required when taking care of forsythia. They grow best in USDA zones 4-9 and require full sunlight to minimal shade. Forsythia are fairly tolerant to most growing conditions, however they grow best in well drained soils with lots of organic matter. Pruning should occur annually, to keep the bush from being over grown, along with feeding of an all-purpose (10-10-10) fertilizer which should be applied mid-February through mid-May. Overall, the forsythia is a beautiful pop of color to any home or park.


There are several ways that you can propagate forsythia plants. One is through taking cuttings. This is the most common form of forsythia propagation because of how easy it is and you can get a large number of plants at one time. This type of propagation is liked by most homeowners.

Another method that is widely used and easier to do is layering. Layering is

Layering Technique

when you take a long stem from the forsythia and wound the stem about 10 inches. Then you place the branch in a pot with potting soil so that the wounded part is covered with soil. Once the plant starts to root you cut the branch that is connecting the new plant from its parent plant. In this method it is important to keep the soil moist to encourage rooting. Layering is not widely used because it can only happen in a short period of time and it is a lot more time consuming than taking cuttings.

You can also propagate forsythia from seeds. This is the least popular way of forsythia propagation because of the extremely slow process. However, it is inexpensive and gardeners get the sense of accomplishment that they wouldn’t normally get from other forms of propagation. Gardeners would want to start seeds inside so that they can start germinating at any time of the year. With a container filled with moistened potting soil, place a couple seeds on top of the soil and cover them with one-quarter inch of additional soil. Place the container inside a plastic bag with plastic wrap covering the top of the pot, and place it in a warm location not in direct sunlight. Once the seeds start to germinate uncover the container and place in a sunny area. Make sure to keep the soil moist during this entire process.

Step-by-Step Cutting Process

Forsythia cuttings in growing medium.

  1. Take forsythia cuttings right when the plant is coming into leaf (June or July). Cut 4-6 inches of a new stem with clippers that have been sanitized with a one-part bleach to nine-parts water solution. Make sure to clean the clippers between every cutting to avoid the spread of diseases.
  2. If you cannot transfer cuttings into medium right away, wrap the cut ends in moistened paper towel and keep them in a cool, dark area. Try not to keep them for more than 24 hours in this state.
  3. The potting medium should be a 50:50 mixture of perlite and eat moss that is moistened. After pinching off 2-3 inches of bottom leaves, place the leafless end into a rooting hormone and tap the stem to release any excess hormone. You can use either liquid or powdered hormone, but you can control the concentration of the hormone when it is in liquid state. Then place the cutting into the rooting medium with the leafless end in the soil.
  4. After all cuttings are in the potting medium, cover the stems with plastic wrap or a clear cover that will keep a consistent moisture. It is extremely important that the stems remain in moist soil to induce rooting. The cuttings should then be placed into a warm or slightly cool location inside with lots of indirect sunlight. Make sure to keep the rooting stems out of direct sunlight.
  5. While the forsythia are rooting make sure to keep a consistent moisture level. Rooting should take up to 4-6 weeks if conditions are optimal. After the stems have rooted, transfer them gently into pots with potting soil and move them into and outside sheltered area that is safe from the wind and out of direct sunlight.
  6. Keep monitoring the plants until there is signs of new root development and growth.


When properly managed and taken care of, the forsythia can be one of the brightest and most beautiful plants added to any scenery. They have had an interesting history and have many medicinal uses. There are also many ways that forsythia can be propagated and each way has its own pros and cons. Propagation by cuttings, however, is by far the most widely used propagation technique used in home gardeners. This is because of how easy it is to perform and you can propagate multiple plants at one time.

Author: Mary Lemmon

Date: Feb. 26, 2015


Green, Deane. “Forsythia.” Eat The Weeds and Other Things Too RSS. Deane Green LLC, n.d. Web. 26 Feb. 2015.

“How to Grow and Care for a Golden BellsForsythia Plant.” Forsythias, How to Grow and Care for Golden Bells Forsythia Plants. The Garden Helper, n.d. Web. 26 Feb. 2015.

Rhoades, Heather. “Forsythia Shrub Care – How To Care For Your Forsythia Plant.” Gardening Know How. Gardening Know How, n.d. Web. 26 Feb. 2015.

Carrol, Jackie. “Can You Propagate Forsythia: How To Propagate Forsythia Shrubs.” Gardening Know How. Gardening Know How, 28 Sept. 2014. Web. 26 Feb. 2015. Beal, Janet. “How to Grow Forsythia From Plant Cuttings.” Home Guides. Demand Media, n.d. Web. 25 Feb. 2015.

Pruning and Propagating Forsythia

In many parts of North America, forsythia are the harbingers of spring. Many highways are planted with this deciduous shrub, and homeowners love their carefree growth and early spring blossoms. The bright golden showers of petals along the arching sprays of forsythia branches seem to shout with joy that winter is finally gone – and spring is here!

Native to Asia, with one species native to Europe, the 11 species of forsythia bloom along flexible stems, with the bell-shaped golden flowers emerging before the leaves. The early spring flowers are much beloved of bees, who often struggle to find nectar sources early in the spring, and the Spicebush Swallowtail butterfly likes to hide her cocoons among the boughs of forsythia.

Forsythia grow quickly once established. Plants added to the garden quickly set down vigorous roots. Most species attain a final height of three to 10 feet if they aren’t pruned. They prefer full sun, but also tolerate partial shade.

Pruning Forsythia

Most varieties of forsythia look lovely when left to grow in their wild, slightly unkempt state, but if you have forsythia lining the edge of your driveway or yard, you know how quickly the natural look can turn into the crazy-car-scraping-look that annoys the heck out of you every time you pull in and out of your garage. If your forsythia have grown too large for the space where they’re planted or you’d prefer to trim them into a more pleasing shape, follow these tips for pruning forsythia to ensure their health and vigorous blooms the following spring.

  • When to prune: The best time to prune forsythia is in the spring, after the plant has finished flowering. Forsythia develop blossoms for the following spring in the fall. Pruning too late in the year, or in the winter before flowering, cuts out most of the flowering branches and may leave you without flowers this year.
  • Equipment: Use a pair of sharp pruning shears. Clean the blades with an alcohol wipe. Rubbing alcohol destroys bacteria and other microorganisms that can be spread from plant to plant during pruning in the open wounds or cuts made by the pruning shears.
  • How to prune forsythia: It’s best to thin the canes and trim the ends gently rather than try to shape the plant into a ball shape. It’s healthier for the plant if you prune away some of the older canes to allow for better air circulation among the branches. Cut the branches as close to the base of the plant as you can.

Propagating Forsythia

Forsythia are fun to propagate, and you can easily grow several more plants from an existing mature hedge.

The best time to propagate forsythia is June and July, when the plant produces vigorous new shoots. Forsythia can be propagate from soft wood cuttings. Look for a new flush of growth among the branches, and choose your cuttings carefully, seeking healthy, vigorous branches.

Clean your pruning shears with alcohol and take several cuttings from among this new growth. Each branch should be at least four to six inches long. Strip off the leaves or pick off the leaves on the lower half of the cutting. Dip the end into rooting hormone, then place the end with the rooting hormone into a pot of rooting medium. You can also use perlite. Several cuttings can be rooted at once in a flat or tray, or use small pots for your propagation experiment.

After inserting the cut end into the pot, firm the soil with your fingers and water it well. Use a clear plastic bag, such as a bag from the produce department of the supermarket, to cover the top of the tray or pot like a dome. This creates a sort of miniature greenhouse to keep the cuttings moist and the humidity high.

Place the covered forsythia cuttings in a bright, sunny spot, but not in direct sunlight. Within six to eight weeks, the cuttings should root, and you’ll see new leaves begin to emerge. At this stage, transfer them to larger containers with sterile potting soil, and continue to nurture them along. Plant them in the fall so that they get a head start on root development for the following spring.

Propagating via Layering

Another popular method of propagating forsythia is through a process called layering. Many plants such as lavender and forsythia develop new roots along the woody stems when the stems touch the ground. You can help this natural habit along and grow a forsythia hedge by using simple layering techniques.

To grow a new forsythia plant by layering, follow these steps:

  • Use a mature, healthy forsythia plant as the parent plant. It should have at least one long cane on the side where you wish to grow the new shrub. The cane should naturally reach the ground.
  • Layering can be done in the early spring while the plant is dormant or during the late fall.
  • Bend the brand to the ground. A sharp bend tends to help the plant root more easily.
  • Use a U-shaped landscape staple, the kind use to affix landscape fabric to the ground, or make a U-shaped bracket by cutting a piece of wire from a coat hanger and bending it into shape. Use the bracket to affix the middle of the flexible branch to the ground.
  • Cover the portion of the branch touching the ground with soil. You may also wish to use a clean, sterilize knife to make a little wound or two under the side of the branch touching the ground.
  • That’s it. Just water it well, and look for new growth near the bend. New growth usually indicates a separate shrub has grown at the bend.
  • You can leave the new plant where it is, or transplant it once it has grown several sets of leaves.

Forsythia are one of nature’s joys, and certainly a favorite for many homeowners. The more forsythia, the better, it seems. Grow more by using these two simple propagation methods this year and have fun with forsythia.

Taking summer cuttings

When to take cuttings

If you have a favourite shrub, it’s easy to make more plants by taking cuttings. From late June to early August, many plants produce fresh, firm shoots that can removed from the plant with a pair of secateurs and will readily root when put into damp compost.

Taking cuttings from shrubs is an easy way to increase your stock of many popular garden plants for free, including hydrangeas, philadelphus, lavender and forsythia.

What to do

How to take the cuttings

  • Choose healthy, pest-free and non-flowering shoots of new growth. Snip from the parent plant and collect inside a plastic bag – add a few drops of water and shake to prevent the plant material wilting while you’re going round the garden taking your cuttings.
  • Cuttings should be 5 to 10cm (2 to 4in) long. Prepare by making a straight cut beneath a pair of leaves and then remove several sets of lower leaves that would rot in the soil if left behind.
  • Keep only one or two pairs of leaves at the tip. Most cuttings root better if the cut end is dipped in hormone rooting liquid or powder.
  • Fill a pot with free-draining compost (a mix of 50 per cent cuttings compost and 50 per cent horticultural grit), level and firm.
  • Insert several cuttings around the edge of a pot, keeping their leaves clear of the surface and water well.
  • Take several cuttings from each shrub to increase your chance of success. Label if you’re making cuttings of several varieties.
  • Put in a propagator or cover the pot with a clear plastic bag, held in place with an elastic band, to stop the cuttings from drying out.
  • Put in a light place until rooted.


  • Keep cuttings damp and grow on until they have rooted.
  • Check by looking for roots growing through the holes at the base of the pot, or by gently tugging at the plants after three weeks. If there’s resistance, they may have rooted.
  • Pot each rooted cutting individually and plant out when they have filled their new pot with roots.
  • When plants are about 15cm (6in) tall pinch out the tips to encourage new branches to grow.

Shrubs to try

  • Ribes (flowering currant)
  • Potentilla
  • Forsythia
  • Lavatera (mallow)
  • Caryopteris
  • Abelia
  • Salvia (sage)

Transplanting forsythia is a good idea if the perennial has overgrown the original planting area. This task needs some care. These tips for moving forsythia bushes will help with the project.

Forsythia shrubs are hardy bushes that are easy to grow and a real show stopper in early spring when their yellow flowers tell us that the warm weather is on the way.

With some normal pruning practices, the bushes will delight year after year.

Check out this article for more information on forsythia bushes. It talks about pruning, transplanting, forcing and other gardening tasks related to forsythia.

These shrubs are quite easy care, but some thought must be given to where you place them when planting forsythia. Since the shrub will grow up to 10 feet tall over time, it can easily outgrow its original spot. You can even end up with a forsythia tree if you aren’t careful.

When this happens, you can try renovation pruning to get it back to a more manageable size, or decide to move the whole shrub to a better spot.

Last year, I made one garden bed much smaller. Unfortunately, the original bed had forsythia shrubs at the back of the bed. Once the garden bed had been reduced in size, the original forsythia bushes that were outside the smaller bed needed to be moved.

Another problem was that the forsythia plants were touching the fence line and only arched at the front.

The back branches got caught in the fence. So transplanting them was in order.

But they were BIG! and we had two of them to move. Since my husband and I had no back hoe, we had to move them ourselves.

To do this, we used a bit of ingenuity and some grunt work and actually moved the two very large forsythia bushes to the center of our back lawn.

They now look perfect. The natural arching habit will enable the bushes to grow unhampered by the fence that used to be behind them, and they break up the back lawn nicely.

Tips for Transplanting Forsythia Bushes

If you want to do this job, be sure you set aside most of a day. It took us that long to move our two bushes. Here are some tips to make the process easier for you.

When is the best time to move forsythia?

Transplanting forsythia is best done when the plant is actively growing, either in the spring after flowering or in the fall before it goes dormant.

I chose spring to allow the roots that get damaged with the move plenty of growth and energy before it gets too hot.

It is a good idea to water the forsythia shrub well the day before the move. This will make digging easier and is less harmful to the bush.

Transplanting can also be done in the fall when the leaves have fallen off. This makes it easier to see what you are doing.

Managing the Root Ball

As is the case with moving any medium or large shrub, but size of the root ball will determine the difficulty of the job.

You will want to get as much of the root ball as possible, but really large shrubs can make this a challenge.

Digging up Forsythia Roots

Start by wrapping the canes of the forsythia bush in a few places with ropes. The canes have a graceful arching habit that is beautiful to view but hard to dig around. Placing a tie around them makes it easier to dig.

You can’t see the ropes in this photo, but there are two of them – one low and one fairly high. The ropes pulled up the canes so we could dig freely.

Next, proceed by digging a trench about 20 inches out from the base of the plant. This will cut off many of the roots, but don’t worry, forsythia buses are tough and new roots will grow quickly in spring.

Digging this trench “prunes the roots.” This cuts the long roots and encourages the plant to send out a new series of roots close to the plants root ball.

In younger bushes, you will want to refill the trench with new potting soil and organic matter such as compost. This will allow the cut roots to regenerate in a few weeks, and will give you a head start on new roots.

If you do digging in two stages be sure to mark where the outside of the trench is when you back fill, so that you won’t damage the new roots when you dig up the plant later.

My bushes where many years old, and I was in more of a hurry, so I skipped this step, since we managed to end up with a very large root ball after digging our trench. I(and since I am impatient!)

Where to plant forsythia

Choose your new location in a spot which has at least five feet on either side of it free. This will allow for future growth and is a good rule of thumb for spacing forsythia.

Be sure that the new location is one that will receive sun daily for at least 6 hours. Forsythia shrubs do best in full sun.

Be sure to dig your new hole before you try to transplant the forsythia bush. When you move it over, you will want the hole ready to place the dug up shrub, to keep the time it spends away from soil to a minimum.

Dig up a hole in your new location that is the same depth and twice the diameter of the root ball of the shrub. This allows new roots to be able to grow into fresh new soil.

Lifting the Forsythia Bush

This idea came from my husband when we realized just how darn heavy these bushes were going to be. There was no way the two of us could lift them.

We had an old round picnic table that we planned to use as a sledge. Richard also came up with the idea of using old planks of wood on both sides of the trench for levering purposes.

No matter how well you think you have dug up the roots, there will still be some under the root ball. The planks of wood did two things for us:

  1. They allowed us to lever up the root ball easily so that we could continue to dig under the plant to release the roots.
  2. They made it easier for us to remove the forsythia bush from its original spot onto the sledge so that we could drag it across the yard to its new spot.

Have one person place the two planks in the hole an push under and lever the root ball up while the second person digs some more under the plant to release the remaining roots.

Now pull the sledge over to the hole edge and use the planks again to lever the forsythia out of the hole and onto the sledge.

We tied the dug up forsythia bush to the edge with some more rope and Richard used a shovel handle to drag the forsythia.

Then it was just a case of dragging it across the lawn to the new hole. This step was surprisingly easy in spite of the weight.

If your plant is smaller, you can use a tarp to place the forsythia bush on and drag it, but the round picnic table gave us a lot of support and made it very easy to move the bush.

Watering the new hole

Give the soil in the new hole a good watering and be sure to have some new potting soil and compost or other organic mixture handy to add to the soil after the forsythia shrub is inserted into the new hole.

Leaf mold and manure can also be used to amend the soil. This helps to improve the soil drainage and adds additional nutrients to it.

Transplanting the Forsythia Shrub

Sit your plastic sheet or sledge close to the new hole that you have dug and position the forsythia bush in it.

This is a good time to measure the depth to make sure the hole is as deep and wide as you want it to be. Once the shrub is in the hole, it’s hard to get it out!

Loosen the roots as much as you can and extend them outwards so they will grow into new soil.

Fill in any areas around the outside of the root ball with your new soil and organic matter. Use the handle end of the shovel to push down the soil and remove air pockets.

If you don’t get rid of the air pockets, the soil level will really sink later and you want lots of fresh soil around the root ball, to encourage vigorous re-growth of roots.

Water the tree well and continue watering daily for a few weeks while the forsythia shrub gets established in the new location.

Continue watering once a week for the first season to make sure the forsythia bush will be well established.

Adding a border to prevent weeds from crowding the crown

We added a border around our forsythia shrubs, since our plants were placed in the middle of our lawn. We didn’t want the grass to crowd the crown and having a border will make mowing the lawn easier.

To add the border, measure out from the center the distance you would like and use the space to remove the top layer of grass. Add some fresh soil and use your choice of edging to keep the weeds away from the forsythia bush.

We used green plastic edging that is flexible and easy to form into a circular shape.

The forsythia shrubs now look so graceful on the lawn and we were lucky enough to get several weeks of heavy rain after we transplanted them so they didn’t suffer at all from the move.

They look as though they have been in this spot for years and I can’t wait until next spring to see the beautiful display of color they will have for us.

After Transplanting Forsythia Bushes

The shock of transplanting can be lessened by removing a few canes. Trim off those that have split tips. This will keep the arching habit of forsythia intact.

When you seen new canes emerging from the crown, you will know that the transplanting has been a success. You should see the plant pick up about a month or so after transplanting.

While the job can be done in fall, I prefer to do it in spring, so that the new growth will happen soon. And you can even make the flowering happen sooner, by forcing forsythia cuttings indoors in the winter months!

Stay tuned for my next project – a forsythia hedge! Once we made the garden bed smaller, the rest of the forsythia have proven to be too large for it.

Instead of moving them all, I plan to turn them into a hedge along the fence line. That will happen in a few weeks!

It’s your turn!

What is the largest size shrub or tree that you have dug up and moved by yourself? Let us know in the comments below.

Pin these tips for Transplanting Forsythia

Would you like a reminder of these tips for transplanting forsythia? Just pin this image to one of your gardening boards on Pinterest.

Prep Time 30 minutes Active Time 1 days Total Time 1 days 30 minutes Difficulty moderate Estimated Cost $10

  • Spade
  • Rope or ties
  • Round point shovel
  • Wooden planks
  • Measuring tape
  • Sledge or tarp (we used an old plastic table top to move our shrubs)
  • Compost or organic matter
  • Fresh Garden Soil
  • Plastic Edging
  1. Water well the day before digging the bushes up.
  2. Start by adding rope or ties around the canes to tie them up out of the way.
  3. Dig a trench about 20 inches out from the crown of the forsythia.
  4. Use the trench to level the bush up so that you can loosen the roots under the bush.
  5. Dig a new hold the same depth and twice the diameter of the root ball.
  6. Water the new hole well.
  7. Get garden soil and compost ready for replanting.
  8. Lever the forsythia shrub out of the hole with the planks onto the sledge or tarp. Drag it to the new spot.
  9. Place the shrub in the new hole.
  10. Add new soil and organic matter around the root ball. Use the shovel handle to get rid of air pockets.
  11. Use the flat edged space to remove nearby grass in a circular shape. Add topsoil.
  12. Insert plastic edging around the circular hole to keep grass away from the forsythia.
  13. Water well until the roots have re-established themselves (about 2 weeks.)
  14. Continue watering once a week for the first season.

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Tips for Transplanting a Forsythia

Forsythia is one of those hardy plants that will take all the punishment you can give — and then come back for more. The following provides a guide with tips to help you transplant your forsythia.

Root Ball

As with any transplantation, the size of the root ball is the controlling factor. To get the best quality roots, you need to encourage some new root growth, so plan your move well in advance. The best way to do this is to prune the roots while the plant is still fairly active.

Dig a trench about twenty inches from the base of the plant, cutting the roots in the process. Refill the trench with a rich mixture of garden compost and soil. The cut roots will start to regenerate and this will give you new roots to transplant. Make sure you know the outer edge of the trench because that is where you will dig to lift the plant.

Lifting the Plant

When the plant is dormant in winter, prepare the new site by digging a hole slightly bigger than you think you will need in the new location. The plant needs to be dug out with the outer edge of the trench as the marker for where to start digging.

Use a sheet of sacking to rest the plant on after you have removed it and secure it so that the roots and soil are well contained. The plant can be carried to the new location and lowered into the hole. You can leave the sacking on the root ball because it will slowly rot while it protects the roots. Set the plant firmly in its new position and fill any gaps around the root ball.

If there has not been any frost, it would be a good idea to water the forsythia every day or two, being careful not to soak the soil. Don’t water once the frost arrives.

First Year

After the first winter, the plant will recover slowly. However, the new roots that you encouraged will help to speed the recovery process. Water the plant once a week and make sure the soil does not dry out. You will know your transplantation has been successful as soon as you see the first green bud.

Moving in the Spring

If you really cannot wait for the winter to move the forsythia, you can take a chance and move it in spring or summer. Forsythia is a remarkably tough plant and can withstand rough treatment.

Lift the Plant

Dig the plant up with as much root as possible and wrap the root ball in sacking. Keep the sacking moist.

Dig the transplant site hole larger than the root ball and line it with a rich mixture of garden compost and soil. Put the plant into the hole and then fill all the gaps with the compost and soil mixture.

This is a very abrupt move and the plant will suffer shock and be slow to recover, but keep the soil moist and it should pick up after five or six weeks.

It is important to transplant your forsythia properly. Follow this guide and it will survive the move.

Transplanting trees, shrubs and evergreens

This year, you made it your goal to give your house a better curb appeal, and part of that project includes moving that overgrown shrub in the front bed to another part of the yard. But, while transplanting trees and shrubs seems to be an easy task, it can be quite deceptive.

The most important thing to remember is that many transplants die due to improper removal or installation. This could mean transplanting at the wrong time of the year or not taking the steps to ensure that your transplant can survive in its new environment. While it is technically true that all plants can be transplanted, it is equally true that some do not like to be moved once established. Younger plants transplant better than older, and shrubs and deciduous plants survive transplants more often than trees and evergreens.

Transplanting causes stress for plants, so one wants to minimize as much of it as possible. For most trees and shrubs, the late winter or the early spring is the best times for transplanting. But, it must be done after the ground thawed and before the plant started to bud. The fall is the second-best time, and it should occur after leaf drop but before the ground freezes.

A transplant will likely not survive if the plant budded out in the spring or didn’t have time to become established in the fall prior to ground freeze. And, a transplant in the summer or winter won’t survive because it’s too hot and too cold, respectively.

The best time to move a deciduous flowering shrubs, which include early spring bloomers like forsythia, mid-spring blooming bushes like weigela or lilac, and summer-flowering species including viburnum and rose of Sharon, is after it lost its leaves but before the ground freezes or new growth begins in the spring. Mid-to-late fall is ideal in most climates because soil temperatures are still warm enough for new roots to form, while cool temperatures above ground slow leaf growth that puts strain on shrubs as they re-establish.

As for evergreen flowering shrubs, such as rhododendrons, myrtles, azaleas and camellias, it’s best to transplant them in late winter to early spring when conditions are wet but not freezing because these plants do not have a true dormant season. One thing to remember is that transplanting an evergreen before temperatures drop in the winter means more watering chores to keep the plant’s leaves from drying out. Also, recently transplanted broad-leaf evergreens are particularly vulnerable to winter burn, which is caused by excessive evaporation of water through leaves that cannot be replaced by the roots.

Besides the timing of transplanting, one must also consider the light, soil pH, moisture needs and wind exposure recommended for the particular plant. One will also want to ensure the transplant site could handle the plant at its maturity. Orienting the plant in the same direction relative to the sun as it was previously will help the plant re-establish.

The condition of the root system is vital because it provides moisture to all other parts of the plant, anchors the plant to the soil and produces hormones that control the plant’s growth. Obviously then, a plant with a severely damaged root system will not transplant well. By root pruning, or cutting through the soil in a 10-inch diameter around the plant, two to three months before the transplanting, the shrub develops new roots to hold the root ball together and recover more quickly in its new site.

Smaller plants should be transplanted as bare roots, ideally in the spring. Take care to spread out the roots, pruning any that could possibly entangle or circle the plant, thereby girdling and killing it.

The new planting site, which should be two to three times the width of the root ball, also should be prepared at least three weeks in advance of planting. Break up the soil and add any amendments across a wide planting bed, to a depth of 10 inches, instead of digging a smaller planting hole and amending soil within it. This will help the plant establish more successfully. Water the plant thoroughly prior to transplant and keep it well watered after it’s been moved. A 3- to 4-inch layer of mulch will help conserve moisture.

Whether you move your flowering shrub in fall, winter or spring, preparing both the plant and its new site in advance helps the move go more smoothly and helps ensure that your favorite tree, shrub or evergreen thrives in its new home.

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