Forsythia has a Bright Future

One of my favorite nurseries in France is Pepinieres Minier. Located in Loire Valley, the nursery dates back as far as 1838. Since that time it has grown into one of the leading nurseries in all of Europe. While they grow a wide range of garden plants, they specialize in Hydrangea, Magnolia, Syringa (Lilac) and in Hibiscus (Rose of Sharon). Violet Satin Hibiscus and Rose Satin Hibiscus are two many outstanding plants developed by Minier.

The driving force behind the nursery is Jean-Paul Davasse, a quiet, unassuming man that just happens to be a first rate plantsman. Not only does Jean-Paul oversee 270 employees and some 250 hectares of production he make the time to manage Minier’s breeding program.

Our recent visit to Minier took us back their superb display garden and as always, Jean-Paul beamed with excitement as we zigzagged the garden looking at their newest acquisitions and breeding work. Fortunately spring came early to the Loire this year and we were lucky enough to evaluate his Forsythia collection.

While Forsythia is not their specialty per say, Jean-Paul has a keen interest in the plant and has been actively breeding the plant for some time. The gem of the collection was his own development, Show Off (Forsythia ‘Mindia). This beauty originated as a sport from the compact, variegated cultivar ‘Fiesta’. There are several notable attributes that makes Show Off special; in the spring it is loaded with very bright, very large flowers that emerge from the base of the plant to the very tips of its branches. Most forsythia plants grow indeterminately, and thus flower buds often fail to form on the late season growth. Show Off seems to have no such problem. While outstanding in the garden, Show Off is especially showy in the garden center. It shines in a three gallon pot compared to other selections. This plant is also quite attractive later in the season because of its compact form and its unusual dark green leaves. The leaves are darker than any other cultivar and distinct in shape as well.

After the garden, we had the great pleasure of evaluating his latest crop of unnamed, unreleased forsythia seedlings. He had narrowed the breeding work down from 3,000 seedlings to about thirty selections. These selections were now in three gallon pots, as well as, in field plots. The evaluation process is the most exciting part of the breeing process. It is also the most difficult part – so many beautiful plants to choose from and you have to narrow the field down to one or two plants that are significant and worthy of introduction. In other words, you have the fortitude to throw plants away! During our evaluation we looked at flower size, flower color, plant density, dwarfness, the flower bud density and overall presentation. So many superb plants, but clearly one or two unique and superior selections rose to the top. Plants destined to have a bright future.

Some say that Forsythia is old fashioned and over used. Some would even say it’s boring - but I strongly disagree. And if you were in my shoes this day, evaluating Jean-Paul’s plants, you would feel as I do - forsythia has a bright future.


  1. Forsythia has a bad rep for a reason -- it either becomes an unmanageable thicket, or is sheared into an ugly dome. True dwarf varieties would be welcome... Now, if you could find a dwarf with good fall color, too, that would be a real winner!

  2. I agree people have a tendency to shear Fosythia and ruin the beauty of the plant. Understanding how to prune them make all the difference in the world.

    There are some very good dwarf varieties on the market. Golden Peep is an excellent plants.

    As far as fall color I recommend New Hampshire Gold.

  3. Anonymous7:43 AM

    40 yrs ago, when I was young and inexperienced, I bought an old house in Michigan. A forsythia growing there was a weeping form, on a rather tree like trunk, about 7ft tall. I lived there for 15 yrs and the trunk never grew taller. Every year, twice a year, I trimmed around the plant to keep the branches just at ground level...they would spill over the lawn if left to their own devices.
    Think of a weeping cherry tree to get a picture of this forsythia.
    I never watered, fertilized, or sprayed but this plant just kept on going. The spring flower show was always spectacular. My question is: what happened to the weeping forsythia? Why have I never seen it for sale in a nursery?

    Thanks for any input,

  4. The weeping forsythia,Forsythia suspensa, is a beautiful plant but your are right is not very common today. It is a great plant for covering banks, or for draping over a retaining wall.

    Plants, like clothing, go in and out of fashion. I also suspect that this plant did not present well in a container compared to more up right species, and thus was more difficult to sell. Growers tend to grow varieties that sell and drop those that don't.

  5. Anonymous9:43 AM

    Is there anyway to extend the length of flowering on these different types of forsythias.? Thz.

  6. Anonymous9:46 AM

    Do you have any info on the Nippon mum - now renamed "Montauk Daisy"?

  7. Thz - Are you interested in extending the bloom in a production setting or in the garden?

    In a productin setting - ie containers, storing the plants in differing settings can extend the bloom time a bit. For example putting one crop out doors and other crops in poly houses under white poly (70%) and clear poly will give you three bloom periods. Storing plants in a cooler or refer can be used to delay bloom.

    In the garden, the only options would be to site the plants in warm and cold locations, or perhaps to speed up bloom on some plants with black ground cloth over the root zone.


  8. for inforation on Montauk Daisy visit the link below.

  9. Show Off

    Hardiness: USDA Zone 4
    Bloom Time: Early Spring
    Bloom Color: Bright golden-yellow
    Foliage Color: Dark green
    Size: 5 – 6 feet
    Exposure: Full sun

    Soil: Prefers a good loose soil, but will do well in any soil. pH adaptable and withstands city conditions and is air pollution tolerant.

    Pruning: Best done immediately after flowering. Each year remove a few of the oldest stems at ground level or the plant can be cut back to the ground if you wish to maintain a smaller plant. Shaping should be done at this time.

    Watering: Medium moisture

    Wildlife: None

    Type: Deciduous

    Fertilizing: Fertilize in early spring by applying a slow release fertilizer specialized for trees & shrubs. Follow the label for recommended rate of application.

    Uses: groupings, masses on banks or slopes, woodland gardens with dappled sun

    Read more:


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