12 Types of Forsythia Bushes (With Pictures)

Forsythia shrubs are deciduous flowering plants that belong to the genus Forsythia in the Oleaceae (olive) family. They are native to eastern Asia and are characterized by bright yellow flowers that bloom in early spring. Forsythia are fast-growing, with some varieties growing as much as 24 inches in a year. They can be grown in USDA Hardiness Zones 5 to 8, and they prefer full sun to partial shade. The flowers bloom in clusters in early spring, before the leaves emerge.

There are about 12 species of forsythia, mostly native to eastern Asia, with one species native to southeastern Europe. The plant is named after William Forsyth, a Scottish botanist who worked at the Chelsea Physic Garden in London. Forsythia are deciduous shrubs, which means they lose their leaves in the fall. They grow to be 1-3 meters (3-10 feet) tall, but some varieties can grow up to 6 meters (20 feet) tall. The leaves are oppositely arranged and simple, with serrated or entire margins.

Forsythia prefer full sun to partial shade and well-drained soil. They are relatively drought-tolerant once established, but they will benefit from occasional watering during dry periods. They can be propagated by seed, but it is more commonly propagated by cuttings. Forsythia can be used as a specimen plant, a hedge plant, or a border plant. They are also a good choice for foundation plantings.

  1. Weeping Forsythia (Forsythia suspensa)
  2. Forsythia x intermedia (Forsythia japonica or Showy Forsythia)
  3. Meadowlark Forsythia
  4. Forsythia Viridissima
  5. Forsythia x ‘Show off’
  6. Forsythia x Sunrise
  7. Forsythia Beatrix Farrand
  8. Forsythia x Lynwood Gold
  9. Forsythia Fiesta
  10. Forsythia Citrus Swizzle
  11. Forsythia Northern Gold
  12. Forsythia Koreana Kumson

Description and Pictures

Weeping Forsythia (Forsythia suspensa)

The Weeping Forsythia, also known as Golden-Bell or suspensa, is a native of China reaching 6-10 feet tall with arching branches that can droop gracefully to the ground. The yellow flowers, slightly smaller than other forsythia varieties, bloom profusely on bare branches in early to mid-spring.

The leaves are undivided and green, but occasional three-lobed leaves may appear. Weeping Forsythia can be propagated by semi-hardwood cuttings taken in late spring or early summer.

Forsythia x intermedia

Forsythia x intermedia, also commonly called Border Forsythia is a cross between Forsythia suspensa (Weeping Forsythia) and Forsythia japonica (Showy Forsythia). It inherits desirable characteristics from both parents, including a bushy, upright form with arching branches that can reach 8-10 feet tall.

The yellow flowers, with four petals, bloom in clusters of 2-3 along the branches before the leaves emerge. The leaves are medium to dark green, ovate-shaped with serrated edges, and turn yellow or occasionally reddish-purple in fall.

Meadowlark Forsythia

Meadowlark Forsythia is a hardy shrub. It is a hybrid of the Forsythia species, resulting from a cross between Forsythia ovata and Forsythia europaea. This cultivar was developed in the United States and is notable for its cold hardiness, being able to withstand temperatures as low as -30°F to -35°F. It suitable for growing in USDA hardiness zones 3 to 8.

Meadowlark Forsythia can grow to a mature height of 8 to 10 feet and a width of 8 to 10 feet. It has an upright and rounded habit with semi-arching branches. It usually has abundant golden flowers that bloom in early spring, from February to March in Atlanta and March to early April in St. Louis.

Forsythia viridissima

Forsythia viridissima, also known as green-stemmed forsythia, Korean forsythia, or Chinese golden-bell tree. It is a more compact shrub compared to its hybrids. Unlike Forsythia x intermedia with brown or yellow-brown branches, this species lives up to its name with green to yellow-green stems.

The flowers are a bright yellow with a subtle green tinge, smaller than some forsythia varieties. They bloom in mid-spring, about two weeks later than most other forsythias. The leaves are similar to other forsythias, being oval-shaped with serrated edges and a medium green color. It is also tolerant of occasional drought, urban conditions, and aerial salt spray.

Forsythia x ‘Show off’

Forsythia x ‘Show Off’ is a dwarf cultivar of forsythia, bred to be a more manageable and low-maintenance version of the popular Forsythia x intermedia. This variety is a result of a cross between Forsythia suspensa and Forsythia viridissima. It produces a dazzling display of bright yellow blossoms in early spring. Flowers cover the branches from base to tip. It’s also relatively low maintenance, requiring pruning immediately after flowering to maintain its shape and encourage new growth.

Forsythia x Sunrise

Unlike some forsythia varieties that can become leggy or sprawling, ‘Sunrise’ boasts a denser, more compact growth pattern. This variety is a result of a cross between Forsythia suspensa and Forsythia viridissima. Its bright yellow flowers that bloom in early spring. The flower buds are able to withstand colder winter temperatures than many other forsythia varieties. This variety can thrive in pots and planters. They are good in smaller gardens or situations where space might be limited.

Forsythia Beatrix Farrand

‘Beatrix Farrand’ is a tetraploid cultivar. This hybrid is a result of a cross between Forsythia x intermedia cultivars. Forsythia x intermedia itself is hybrid of Forsythia viridissima (green-stemmed forsythia) and Forsythia suspensa (weeping forsythia).The branches of ‘Beatrix Farrand’ tend to grow upright to arching, reaching a mature height and spread of 6-8 feet.

The ‘Beatrix Farrand’ cultivar is noted for its deep yellow blooms that appear in early to mid-spring. It has an arching shrub form and can grow to a height of 10 feet and a width of 8 feet. This variety is hardy in USDA zones 6 to 9.

Forsythia x Lynwood Gold

Forsythia x Lynwood Gold, also known as Forsythia × intermedia ‘Lynwood Gold’, is a hybrid, likely between Forsythia japonica (Showy Forsythia) and Forsythia suspensa (Weeping Forsythia). The branches of Lynwood Gold tend to grow densely upright, reaching a mature height and spread of 6-9 feet. It produces a profusion of bright yellow, four-petaled flowers in clusters of 2-3 along the branches. The flowers usually emerge before the leaves in early to mid-spring.

Forsythia Fiesta

“Fiesta” is another cultivar of Forsythia x intermedia. Unlike some forsythia varieties that can sprawl or become leggy, Fiesta is more compact, it reaches a height of 3-4 feet and a spread of 4-5 feet. The “Fiesta” cultivar is particularly notable for its variegated foliage, which is in a combination of green and cream or yellow colors. The leaves turn to reddish-bronze in the fall. Fiesta stays true to its forsythia heritage by producing a profusion of bright yellow, bell-shaped flowers in early spring.

Forsythia Citrus Swizzle

“Forsythia Citrus Swizzle” is a relatively newer cultivar of forsythia. The leaves of “Citrus Swizzle” are variegated (creamy white variegation on a green base). The foliage puts on a show throughout the year. New growth emerges a vibrant lime green with chartreuse variegation, maturing to a lighter green with creamy white margins in late summer.

Citrus Swizzle stays true to its forsythia roots. It produces a profusion of bright yellow, bell-shaped flowers in early spring. These cheerful blooms appear before the leaves emerge.

Forsythia Northern Gold

Forsythia ‘Northern Gold’ is a modern hybrid of Forsythia x intermedia and Forsythia ovata. Unlike some forsythia varieties whose flower buds can be damaged by late freezes, Northern Gold boasts exceptional cold hardiness. It can withstand temperatures as low as -20°F (-29°C), ensuring reliable flower production even in areas with spring frosts.

This Canadian cultivar with a rounded shape, it can grow up to 8 feet in height and has a spread of about 7 feet. It is characterized by bright golden yellow, bell-shaped flowers in early spring before the leaves emerge. Forsythia ‘Northern Gold’ grows at a fast rate and has an upright spreading habit and a maximum life expectancy of over 40 years under ideal conditions.

Forsythia koreana ‘Kumson’

Forsythia koreana ‘Kumson’, also known as Korean Greenstem Forsythia or Kumson Forsythia is a unique variety of Forsythia. Kumson’ is a part of the Forsythia viridissima species and is particularly noted for its variegated foliage. The leaves mature to a deep green with distinct silvery white veins, which may become less prominent with age or in the shade.

In the spring, it produces golden yellow blooms. During winter, when the foliage drops, deep purple branches become visible. This shrub can reach up to 6 feet in height and thrives in full sun to partial sun and is quite resistant to deer. It is able to withstand temperatures as low as -30 degrees Fahrenheit (-34 degrees Celsius). It is also a fast-growing shrub.