My Forsythias are shaped beautifully…...but few flowers!

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Deciduous trees and shrubs can produce a dependable flower show, but the flower buds that create the flowers need to be kept in consideration to prevent damage. Pruning at the wrong times can be a major reason for the reduction in flowers.


Forsythia 2


In addition, early blooming plants like Saucer and Star Magnolias can be burned by a heavy frost.




On a recent walk in the neighborhood, I commented on how pretty and full the forsythias looked this year.


Forsythia 3

Forsythia 4


Then I happened upon this hedge of forsythias. Great shape, few flowers…and I was reminded of an important cultural practice related to pruning.


forsythia trim 2


In most cases, the time to prune flowering trees and shrubs to insure the best flower show is right after they flower. If you wait too long to prune, you may be removing next year’s flower buds. These plants include Forsythia, Deutzia, Ninebark, Sweet spire, Rose of Sharon, Fothergilla, and Weigelia to name a few.

Another aspect of flowering plants is there time of flowering. Some of the early flowering forms of Magnolia can have flowers burned after a heavy frost.


magnolia burn


star mag burn

These include Star Magnolia


mag damage 5


and Saucer Magnolia.


mag damage  4


The plant is fine but the flowers will turn brown. Some flowering Magnolias have been cultured to flower later in the spring helping to preserve the buds. These include Magnolia x ’Betty’, Magnolia x ‘Ann’, and Magnolia x ‘Butterflies’.


Mag Betty


These bloom later and have less chance of injury.

The lesson to be learned, “Preserve the flower buds…Enjoy the flowers!”