Garden Corner – Keep the Color, Lose the Size

Kelly Jackson
Christian County Extension Office

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, some with very interesting features.

The Petite: Forsythia virdissima ‘bronxensis’ grows to only 1 to 1.5 feet tall with a slightly greater spread of up to 3 feet. Flowers are a soft yellow and the narrow foliage is attractive in its’ own right. Now you can get that bright yellow in even the smallest garden spaces.

The Groundcover: Forsythia x ‘Goldtide’ 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 still covered in bright yellow blooms each spring.

The Unique: Forsythia x ‘Goldilocks’ has a compact upright growth habit reaching 2-3’ tall and wide. Its novelty lies in the sheer profusion of blooms packed densely along each stem creating a foxtail-like appearance.

The Variegated: Forsythia x ‘Fiesta’, another smaller variety with the anticipated yellow flowers, 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 or just like something different, maybe one of these smaller gems can find a place in your landscape.


Source: Jamie Dockery, Fayette County Extension Agent for Horticulture