Forsythias are a harbinger of spring here in our Ottawa area, so we anticipate and appreciate their bright, cheerful yellow blooms. Are you wondering why your forsythia only bloomed on the bottom branches this spring? I have noticed this fact in several gardens, so wondering why that may be.
Do You Have a Hardy Variety of Forsythia?
One of my garden-related pet peeves is the fact that many nurseries stock and sell perennial plants that are not cold-hardy in our area. Forsythias are one of them. In my opinion, the “Northern Gold” variety is one of the hardiest, and should survive in the Ottawa area. It is readily available in most nurseries here. Be sure to choose a variety that is hardy to your area when shopping!
Many times though, while the branches and leaves are hardy and resistant to cold, the flower buds are not. This may be the case this year as to why your forsythia only bloomed on the bottom branches this spring. The lower branches (and flower buds) were well insulated by the substantial snowfall we experienced this past winter.
This tiny forsythia bloomed on all its branches because it is so small it was completely insulated over the winter.
Was Your Forsythia Pruned Improperly or Too Late Last Season?
Forsythias, as one of the first shrubs to bloom in spring, should only be pruned after they bloom. If you prune it too late in the season, you risk removing some of the buds that are preparing to bloom the following spring. The new growth after the forsythia blooms is what will be blooming next season, so be careful how much you cut off and where you cut it from.
The general rule of thumb for shrub or tree pruning is this: If it blooms before June, prune it after it blooms. If it blooms after June, prune it in the spring. That is if pruning is even necessary. We seem to have become an over-pruning, over-zealous, perfection-striving, bunch these days. I have met a few gardeners that say they never prune their forsythia, yet get lots of glorious blooms each spring. I would be curious to see if these non-pruned forsythias only bloomed on the bottom branches this spring too.
It’s Not Just the Cold Temperatures But Also the Fluctuations in Temperature That Affect Blooming
When Mother Nature decides to give us a taste of spring in January or February, then slams the door in March, the fluctuations affect our plants. That’s because the thaws trick roots and flower buds into thinking spring is coming, then the cold snap afterward freezes them, killing them in the process.
This variation in weather, including the ice storm a few weeks ago, could very well have something to do with why our forsythias only bloomed on the bottom branches. The flower buds hibernating under the snow had not started their spring process yet so were unharmed by the nasty weather.
I’d love to hear from fellow enthusiasts if your forsythia only bloomed on the bottom branches or if you were lucky enough to have a tree or shrub full of spring cheeriness.