How to prune forsythia bushes

Updated April 17, 2017

Forsythia are fast growing flowering bushes, often growing 1-2 feet or more per year. While forsythia can be left alone to grow naturally, many gardeners prefer the look of a properly pruned bush. In a couple of minutes, by following a few easy steps, you can correctly prune and maintain your beautiful forsythia bush.

Prune forsythia bushes right after they finish blooming. Since next year's blooms form off of this year's old growth, it is important to prune them back before the new buds form, to avoid having a nonproductive bush the following year.

Shape the forsythia by cutting off any branches that are sticking out from the desired shape of the bush. Be sure to cut them all the way back to the main stem of the bush, or they will just grow back the same way at a later date.

Cut the whole forsythia bush back to within 4-6 inches of the ground. The reason for shaping before drastically cutting the bush, is to ensure that when the new growth comes in, it continues to grow in the desired way. Do not be afraid to cut too much off of the forsythia bush, as they are fast growing and will recover by the next year.

Trim off any suckers or runners that are growing at the bottom of your forsythia branch. These little runners make the bottom of your bush look messy, and will cause outgrowths that you may not want. It is OK to leave one or two stronger new stems each year, especially if you will be cutting off a branch or two of old wood.

Continue to lightly prune and shape your forsythia throughout the year, if a branch or two is not appealing to the shape of the tree, but try to avoid cutting off too much, as the new buds for next year have probably already formed. Visit the resource below for additional information on caring for forsythia bushes.


Prune your forsythia as soon as they have stopped blooming, to properly prepare them for next years buds to form.


Use caution when operating sharp gardening objects to avoid getting hurt.

Things You'll Need

  • Lopping shears
  • Hand pruners
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About the Author

Based in Florida, Kathleen Bunn has been working as a professional writer since 2006. She holds and associate's degree in elementary education from Tallahassee Community College, as well as an x-ray technician's license from Keiser College.