Seasonal planting of forsythias is dependent on your climate zone. If you live in mild winter areas where the ground doesn't freeze, you can plant container-grown plants from November to March. If you live in northern zones where frost is a factor, plant container-grown plants in early spring as soon as the ground can be worked.
Mail-order companies send plants bare-root, so delivery schedules can vary according to weather in your climate zone. If you plant in May or June, be prepared to water frequently when the weather turns hot to help the plant become established. Fall is an excellent time for shrub planting for most zones, as the warm soil promotes root development. If you choose a fall plant time, plant in September or early October for best results.
Advantages to planting in the spring or early summer:
- You can see the plants in bloom when you visit nurseries in early spring.
- Other spring-blooming plants in your garden can help you determine where to place your new shrub for the best effect.
- In northern zones, the soil is loosened by winter frost action.
- In southern zones, early spring, not early summer, would be the better choice.
Disadvantages to planting in the spring:
- In northern zones, the weather can remain too cold or the soil too wet for successful planting.
- Mail order nurseries will not send bare root stock if there's a risk of roots freezing en route.
Advantages to planting in the fall:
- Weather is often comfortable, with cooler day temperatures.
- Soil is warm, which promotes fast root growth for both container and bare-root plants.
- In northern zones, plants have a month or more of mild weather to become established.
- Local nurseries and mail order nurseries frequently run sales to reduce nursery stock quantities before winter.
Disadvantages to planting in the fall:
- You cannot see the color or size of the blooms, except in pictures.
- Your choice of nursery stock inventory can be limited by fall.
Planting container-grown shrubs:
- Container grown plants are available locally and are already adapted to your climate zone.
- Planting success is generally high because the roots are not disturbed during planting.
- You may have a choice between 1 gallon or 5 gallon containers.
- Large containers have larger plants, but can be heavy and do require a planting hole that matches the container's size.
- When determining what size to buy, consider that forsythias are fast growers.
- If your soil is poor, heavy (clay-like), or sandy, add amendments such as compost or a good top soil mix to the soil in the planting hole to help roots become established faster.
Planting bare-root shrubs:
- Bare-root plants are available from mail-order nurseries and are generally less expensive, but are usually smaller as well.
- Since forsythias are fast growers, size may not matter that much.
- You must prepare your planting site properly, with amendments, if needed.
- You must plant quickly once the plant arrives.
- You must water regularly for the first year.
- For best results, choose a mail order nursery from your same climate zone.