April 1, 2020

May the Forsythia Be with You


Janine Pineo Photo | Forsythia

The exuberance of spring is never more evident than in the explosion of yellow from a forsythia bush. The only trouble here in Maine is that if you don’t plant one that’s got cold-hardy flower buds, you may never see any blooms. The one pictured is planted right next to a house, which means that little extra heat in its Zone 4 setting usually ends with blossoms every year. However a few dozen feet away from the structure, two massive forsythia only blossom when the winter chill doesn’t dip below Zone 5 temperatures. Usually those ones have flowers around the base where the snow has insulated them against the cold. Forsythia is in the olive family, with most species native to Asia and one from southeastern Europe. There are some cold-hardy hybrids out there; you just need to look for them and double-check the tag to see how low it can go. And when planning to plant one or more of these, take into account that they can end up massive: more than 10 feet tall and wide. It would be like looking into the sun in spring with all that glowing yellow.