Episode 5: When Is The Best Time To Prune Forsythia?


About This Episode

On this episode of Ask Grumpy, Steve Bender, also known as The Grumpy Gardener, and his co-host Nellah McGough share smart pointers for pruning forsythia. Plus, Grumpy reveals the Plant of the Week, beautiful Drift Roses.

Question: When is the best time to prune a forsythia?

Grumpy Gardener Answer: Forsythia is a beautiful shrub, it's one of the prettiest things, it's the real sign of spring. Eventually it gets to be really big, if you don't prune it. These things can get six, seven feet tall and wide. And they just get too big for the space a lot of times. But it's really simple. This goes for any of those other kinds of shrubs that bloom only in the spring like spirea or lilacs. The best time to prune those is immediately after they've finished blooming in the spring, because they bloom on the growth that they're going to make this growing season. So if you prune them, if they're in bloom in March, go ahead and give them a good pruning in April. That gives them plenty of time to put on new branches, and to form lots of new flower buds for next year. If you wait too long, let's say late summer or fall, by that time, the flower bud have already been formed and you've cut 'em all off. And without flowers, there's no reason to have a forsythia.

Plant Of The Week: Drift Roses

About Drift Roses

One of the most popular roses that's called an everblooming rose is one that came out years ago called Knock Out, and there's several different colors. People loved it because it bloomed pretty much all summer, and it didn't need to be sprayed with a lot of herbicides to keep down diseases and stuff like that.

One of the problems, though, is that people think it's a no-maintenance plant. And I'm here to tell you there's no such thing as a no-maintenance plant. Plants grow, and a lot of people don't take that into consideration. Normally, a Knock Out rose might grow to about three feet tall. But if you don't prune it at all, which a lot of people don't, eventually it's going to get up six to seven feet high. And that presents a problem pruning then, because it is viciously thorny. Take my word for it, you don't want to be pruning a huge Knock Out rose.

So, when I was redoing the front of my garden, I wanted something that was going to stay small and that had a mounding form. I wasn't going to need to prune them very much. I also wanted something that would bloom for a long time, and that wouldn't need a whole lot of care. So I opted for a new series of roses, and they're called Drift roses. And they're really marketed as ground cover roses. They get to be about two feet tall, but then they spread out about four feet wide. And so, it's a nice mound that doesn't get too big. It's easy to incorporate into a mixed flower garden or something like that, which is how I have it.

It comes in a lot of different colors. It comes in apricot, it comes in peaches, it comes in white, it comes in yellow, it comes in red. I've got the peach colored one, and I just happen to love that color. But again, the plants are easy to grow, they are not disease-proof, but they are disease-resistant and they don't take a whole lot of care for you, and they do bloom all summer long. Mine are coming into bloom right about now, and I can count on flowers probably all the way to November.

They can take part shade, but most roses you're going to find the more sun you give them, the more blooms you're going to get. So, if possible, plant them in the sun. Your soil should be well-drained. The better your soil is, the better the plant will do. So, I like to work in a lot of organic matter that could be anything from compost to manure, chopped leaves, soil conditioner, anything like that and work that into the soil, before you actually plant, whatever you're going to plant, because it makes the soil so much healthier for the root system, and the plant will grow so much better.

About Ask Grumpy Podcast

Ask Grumpy is a new podcast featuring Steve Bender, also known as Southern Living’s Grumpy Gardener. For more than 20 years, Grumpy has been sharing advice on what to grow, when to plant, and how to manage just about anything in your garden. Tune in for short episodes every Wednesday and Saturday as Grumpy answers reader questions, solves seasonal conundrums, and provides need-to-know advice for gardeners with his very Grumpy sense of humor. Be sure to follow Ask Grumpy on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen so you don't miss an episode.

Editor’s Note: Please be mindful that this transcript does not go through our standard editorial process and may contain inaccuracies and grammatical errors.

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