We should've known in a coldest-ever winter, to
pick a hardier branch for forcing spring.
We should've known better! We decided to force a branch from a
shrub to show our granddaughter that winter would not go on
forever. "The trees and flowers are just sleeping! See all these
buds on the branches? The leaves are inside there and they will
wake up and grow when it gets warm."
Asking you to Sponsor a mistake?!
Forsythia reliable - not!
Forsythia seemed the perfect branch to force. We know it can
work... the buds pop open and resume growing after about 10
days in a warm house in a vase.
As a bonus, there would be flowers! Oh boy!
Wrong. How could we forget that the temperature had dropped to
degrees below zero earlier this winter?! Most forsythias are not
flower bud hardy when it's that cold. The flower buds die, although
leaf buds are
fine. Thus, in the coming spring most forsythias hereabouts will
disappoint -- bloom only very low down from buds on portions of
branches that were under snow cover during the coldest times.
Here are our forsythia cuttings, ten days after we cut them. (We
changed the water every day, and after about 5 days also made sure
to keep the branches in the light.)
Scroll down to see a close up explanation
and see what to look for to find out now whether your
forsythia will have a bloom or bust spring.
Ah well. Another year, we'll have glorious forsythia. (The
photos of the forsythia shrubs in bloom, below and in our Spring Color
guide, were taken following mild winters that spared every
For right now, we can go clip some quince or cherry to force.
They're flower bud hardy!
A few forsythia varieties have been selected for greater flower bud hardiness. The
old standby, Forsythia x intermedia 'Linwood Gold' is not
to be depended on. Put your money on University of Minnesota's
forsythia introductions, 'Northern Sun' and 'Northern Gold' or
University of North Dakota's 'Meadowlark' and 'Sunrise'.
Flower bud hardiness isn't the only thing that varies between
forsythia varieties. The yellow flowers range from gold to lighter
yellow. For instance, most listed in this article are bright
yellow, but 'Northern Gold' and 'Lynwood' are more gold.
Below: Bright yellow and gold comparisons. When shrubs are
grown as individuals or whole sections of a hedge are different
varieties the color differences may be more apparent than
when various yellows are randomly mixed in a hedge.
If the exact tone makes a difference, such as when you mean
to match an existing hedge, always read the plant's catalog
description or nursery tag before you buy.
Forsythia buds, exposed
Below, left: See the big fat buds that are NOT sprouting?
Those are the flower buds. At each node on the branch that was
mature enough last summer to produce flowers -- a node is the place
where leaves form -- there are four buds in two pairs. One of each
pair is a flower bud.
Sure, they look okay. However, cut one open to learn the
Below, right: We took one flower bud off the branch and
sliced it as if it was a pear. See the dead tip? That was the
flower, intact until air temperature fell below zero.
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