How do I prune my forsythia to encourage bushy growth at the bottom? It is extremely healthy-looking at the top and ends, but I want to stop it from becoming leggy/wiry at the bottom. I don't want the branches long and extended, with the leaves only at the extremities. It will remain in a pot.

I don't want it to look like the one in this question that I posted last year: Why does this forsythia have such sparse leaves?

Forsythia - bushy at the top/ends, leggy at the bottom

1 Answer 1


You seem to have two criteria which are at cross purposes. Encouraging leaves lower down may require a certain amount of wiriness at the base. Forsythia is often left to grow producing a lot of mature wood at the base which produces neither flowers nor leaves. My guess it that you want to eliminate this. So the action required is to prune every year at the base first. Encourage new growth from lower down, as close to ground level as possible by focusing on removing as much of the oldest wood you can find as low as possible using long handled shears. Limit the pruning volume to a quarter of the bush in any one season but prune every season directly after flowering.

Prune again later in the summer at the branch tips to control the length of the shoots according to your taste. Removing tip leaves will of course reduce the vigour of the shrub but this will be helpful since it is to live in the pot only.

  • But - Forsythia only blooms on old wood and sets next year's buds shortly after this years' blooms. Doing what Colin recommends will get you a bushy shrub but you will see far fewer blooms, if any. Forsythias are naturally vase-shaped and leggy. I suggest you replace it with a weigela, which will have the growth habit you desire.
    – Jurp
    Commented Apr 27, 2020 at 12:49

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