Forsythia in Winter
Q: Last spring, my forsythia bush bloomed on the bottom but not on the top. Could it be that I pruned the bush the wrong way or at the wrong time?
Last spring, my forsythia bush bloomed on the bottom but not on the top. Could it be that I pruned the bush the wrong way or at the wrong time?
—Marissa Lundquist, Staten Island, N.Y.
Roger Cook replies: It's unlikely you did anything wrong; I blame the weather before the spring bloom. Last winter started out mild in the Northeast, then went into a deep freeze. The ground froze solid, and cold winds dried out and damaged many plants. I replaced hundreds of them last spring.
I'll bet that your forsythia had some leaves piled up around its base, protecting it from the cold. That could explain why the lower branches flowered and the top ones didn't.
The good thing about forsythia is that they are very vigorous plants. Prune out the dead material, cut the plant back so that it looks as good as possible, and give it a good drink before the ground freezes. Wrap it loosely in burlap so that more of it doesn't die back this winter. Then, early next spring, unwrap it, fertilize it lightly, and watch it take off.