Fill my garden with yellow flowers!
June 11, 2011 9:33 AM   Subscribe

Is it too late in the growing season to propagate my forsythia?

In our back yard, we have a very hardy bush with yellow flowers which I believe to be a forsythia plant. I would like to propagate this bush, both to the immediate side and to a somewhat distant shady patch that is currently overgrown with weeds.

Growing up, I often saw my dad take cuttings from plants, stick them in water, and then plant them in pots once the roots had sprouted. (I've inherited none of his green thumb, though.) On a scale of "doomed to failure" to "yeah, that might actually work" is this doable with my forsythia?

My wife thinks that it is too late in the growing season to do this successfully. Some random Googling suggests that this would have been best attempted several months ago, but I have seen some references that say that successful propagation can be done right after the plant blooms. The linked picture was taken today, so the plant is just about done blooming.

We are in Virginia.
posted by QuantumMeruit to Home & Garden (9 answers total)
Oops, I really meant "in the middle of blooming". There are some stems where the blooms are done, and others that are just about to open.
posted by QuantumMeruit at 9:34 AM on June 11, 2011

The photo doesn't look like any forsythia that I'm familiar with (also forsythias tend to flower before they leaf out), and I'm unable to identify the species so far. A local nursery or ag extension service is likely your best bet for an ID, but you can also take a look here.

For growing season propagation of woody shrubs, layering is your best best though it is better done in early spring.
posted by vers at 9:52 AM on June 11, 2011

I'm not sure that is a forsythia. The blooms don't look quite right. Also, I am further north than you, and they usually bllom in early April up here, this would be late for it to bloom. Could it be a multi flora rosa? I can't find a good close up of a bloom.
posted by kellyblah at 9:54 AM on June 11, 2011

It's definitely not a forsythia; I see that plant all the time in nurseries but I can't for the life of me remember its name.
posted by TochterAusElysium at 9:59 AM on June 11, 2011

Aha! Possibly Hypericum calycinum - St John's Wort. In which case, yes; you should be able to take cuttings and root them.
posted by TochterAusElysium at 10:06 AM on June 11, 2011

It doesn't look like H calycinum to me, but it is a Hypericum. If it's deciduous, you might have more luck in late fall or early winter, but that's more complicated. If it is an evergreen type, best to do this with softwood cuttings- that is, the newly sprouted green tips in early spring. You want to do this just when the plant is coming out of winter rest. Or you can try now anyway, glasses of water with cuttings don't take up much space. Use non-flowering tips, or cut off the buds/fruit.

If it a deciduous type you could also just divide the plant when dormant, with a sharp shovel, and re-plant.
posted by oneirodynia at 10:23 AM on June 11, 2011

Hah, yes, my plant does look more like the Hypericum pictures linked there. It did not lose its leaves in the fall. I think I'll take some cuttings tomorrow morning and see what happens...
posted by QuantumMeruit at 2:27 PM on June 11, 2011

That's St. John's Wort. For sure, definitely. The stuff's blooming all over the place her in Virginia right now.
posted by Ys at 7:21 PM on June 11, 2011

If water doesn't work, a small bottle of RooTone rooting hormone powder is pretty inexpensive for what you get: It's a dusting powder that encourages root growth. It's basically cut a twig, dip in powder, follow planting instructions. Bottle lasts about forever, costs about 12 bucks.
posted by Ys at 7:33 PM on June 11, 2011

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