Forsythia only blooming at tips

Asked March 15, 2020, 10:37 AM EDT

Hi there! For the last two years (at least), certain of our forsythia bushes have only bloomed at the the end of the stems. A forsythia bush immediately adjacent blooms all along the stems. Is there something I can do to encourage full growth? Thank you!

Montgomery County Maryland

3 Responses

Some reasons for lack of bloom include too much shade, overfertilization, and improper pruning. The shrubs need to be located in full sun for best bloom.

To encourage new growth you need to prune out one third to one half of the older canes every year following flowering. This is called renewal pruning. This will rejuvenate the plant, sending up fast growing new canes which should be loaded with blooms next spring.


Thanks, Marian. As you suggested, I cut back a few of the forsythia canes. Before I cut more, I have a question. At the base of the bushes, the canes are an inch or more in diameter. Should I be thinning here or farther up the cane where the diameter is less and the cane is less woody?

I haven’t fertilized these plants in years. Would compost help?
Many thanks,
Nathalie Peter

Yes, cut the canes almost to ground level.

Some compost would be fine, but not critical.

You may have two different varieties of forsythia, too. One may simply produce blooms more heavily than the other (newer varieties often have denser blooming.)