The forsythia is one of the better-known garden plants and is a familiar flowering shrub in many homes. This fast-growing shrub with vibrant yellow flowers makes a welcome sight on any landscape and is one of the earliest flowers to bloom in spring.
The forsythia is a low maintenance shrub and does not need specialist care. However, winter usually necessitates extra care as the plant gets easily damaged by the extreme cold and frost conditions. Snow and ice can easily damage the plant branches by causing bending or breaking, especially if the plants are not well protected. Also, if not well sheltered, the rapid changes in temperature result in the plant "heaving" which disrupts the healthy development of the shrub roots. The forsythia is a deciduous shrub and these types of plants are usually susceptible to shoot die-back and dying buds during the winter. This damage is caused by the extremely cold temperatures and especially affects flowering buds. Following are some simple ways of caring for your forsythias during winter.
Winter weather conditions usually leave a reduced amount of water available for the plant's needs. You can ensure that the plants have supplementary water before the winter sets in by watering frequently in the late fall. This will avail water for the plants before the ground freezes.
Winter mulching is vital in protecting the plant from the damaging effects of harsh weather. Mulch protects the soil from erratic fluctuations of temperature that can affect the health of the plant and prevents heaving. Weed growth is discouraged when mulch is applied around the plants. When you mulch your forsythias, the soil benefits from the input of vital organic material which gradually decomposes over time. This releases beneficial organisms into the soil which play a fundamental role in boosting the soil ecosystem. Mulch also helps in managing plant diseases as it controls the presence of insect pests in the garden.
- Use organic material such as dried grass, pine needles, wood chips or chopped leaves. Spread about 4 inches of organic mulch around the plants.
- Avoid packing the mulch too closely to the plant stems as it will encourage fungal infections and diseases due to the retention of soil moisture.
Protect your forsythias from the harsh winter wind by placing a screen around them. Make sure the screen is made of material that will allow good circulation of air around the plants. Poor air ventilation can cause plants to wilt and hinder healthy plant activities from taking place. A good material to use in making a protective screen is burlap. In the event of frost and snow you can cluster the shrub branches together and tie them loosely. Ensuring that your shrubs are well protected will greatly minimize the incidence of plant damage through die-back.