Forsythia plants, also commonly referred to as "Golden Bells" because of their yellow-golden foliage, illuminate the landscape in a remarkable way. This deciduous shrub is excellent for using as hedges or borders in garden arrangements. The plants can be propagated from cuttings or through ground layering. It is best to do layering in the spring or early summer when active growth is at its peak. Following is a guide on how you can go about propagating forsythia.
Step 1: Identify a Mature Plant
For root propagation, you will need to identify a mature, well-established forsythia with budding tips. If layering roots, select a mature plant that has branches close to the ground to enable bending and burying of branches. Identify healthy plant tips that are about 5 to 8 inches long.
Step 2: Cutting and Layering
Cut about 5 inches of the tip. Be sure that each tip has about 4 buds. For layering, snip off side shoots and leaves using a pair of scissors. Scrape off the top layer of the stem using a budding knife so that the cambium layer is exposed. The roots will develop from this area.
Step 3: Root Hormone
Dip the cuttings into some root hormone for a few seconds, then remove for planting. Root hormone will encourage healthy development of roots.
Step 4: Site Location
Forsythia are tolerant of various soils. They require adequate sunlight, so select an area of the garden that receives full sun. The plant will tolerate some shade, although too much will hinder blooms from fully developing. The site has to have adequate space, because the plants can reach 8 feet in height and extend up to 6 feet across.
Step 5: Site Preparation
Add some organic matter into the soil and mix well. Organic matter is beneficial to root growth and will assist the young plants in establishing themselves faster.
Step 6: Planting
Insert cuttings about one-third of the way into the soil and mound the soil around them for stability. Apply water and be sure to water regularly so that soil remains consistently moist. Avoid letting the soil dry out. This will cause the plants to become weak and hinder proper root development.
When layering, create a narrow trench in the ground and lay the stem inside, then cover with soil. Having buried the stem, place a brick or stick beside it to keep it firmly hemmed in the ground. Rooting will take place in about 3 months. Once roots are established, cut off the stem from the mother forsythia and plant elsewhere at a site of your preference.
Step 7: Mulching
It's a good idea to mulch the cuttings. This will help in conserving vital soil moisture. Mulching also restricts weed growth. Roots should develop in 6 to 8 weeks time. Once they are well established, it's safe to transplant the forsythia to another site.