Surely one of the most widely recognized harbingers of spring is the bright yellow blooms of forsythia. These extremely durable shrubs have graced gardens for centuries. While beautiful in bloom, these plants grow quite large and may be more plant than your landscape can handle. Fortunately, there are several lesser known types of forsythia that have a more manageable size. These varieties may require a little more effort to locate but are worth the search.
Forsythia virdissima ‘bronxensis’- one of the smallest varieties growing 12-15” tall and spreading 2-3 feet. Flowers are a soft yellow and the narrow foliage is attractive in its’ own right.
Forsythia x ‘Goldtide’- this variety is not as difficult to find and features semi pendulous or arching branches. The plant matures at 2’ tall x 3-6’ wide. Goldtide is frequently used as a tall groundcover. Of course the plant is covered in bright yellow blooms each spring.
Forsythia x ‘Goldilocks’- This unique variety has a compact upright growth habit reaching 2-3’ tall and wide. The novelty lies in the sheer profusion of blooms packed densely along each stem. This creates a foxtail-like appearance.
Forsythia x ‘Fiesta’- Another smaller variety with the anticipated yellow flowers. ‘Fiesta’ grows 2-3’ tall x 3-4’ wide. After flowering the plant produces showy leaves of bright chartreuse with a dark green edge. This variegation is most striking early in the season, becoming green with the heat of summer.
If you have yearned for the old fashion look of forsythia but lack the room for a full sized specimen track down one of these smaller gems.
Submitted by Jamie Dockery, Agent for Horticulture, Fayette Co. Cooperative Extension Service