How to Propagate Forsythia From Cuttings

Forsythia is among the few shrubs to flower in winter.
Forsythia is among the few shrubs to flower in winter. (Image: Jupiterimages/ Images)

The genus Forsythia includes more than 10 species of flowering shrubs native to Asia and parts of Europe. Growing to 9 feet in height, they are large shrubs widely cultivated in gardens for their late winter display of showy, golden yellow flowers. Forsythia belongs to the olive family and like all olive relatives they are very easy to propagate. Vegetative propagation methods such as rooted cuttings work best for all species of forsythia and many new plants can be created from a healthy parent shrub.

Things You'll Need

  • Bleach
  • Bypass pruners
  • Horticultural sand
  • Compost
  • Rotary tiller
  • Garden trowel
  • Mulch

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Prepare to take the cuttings by sanitizing the blades of the pruners. Dip the blades in a 10-percent bleach solution and allow them to dry on a clean surface for at least two minutes.

Select several cuttings from a healthy forsythia bush. Choose 6-inch long mature stems with hard wood and at least six leaf nodes. Snip the cuttings with bypass pruners so the tips are angled. Place the cuttings in water.

Prepare an outdoor rooting bed. Combine equal parts horticultural sand and compost. Spread a 2-inch layer across the bed and incorporate it into the soil with a rotary tiller set to cultivate at a 4-inch depth. Make several passes with the tiller to make the soil loose and free of clumps.

Create a 3-inch deep furrow across the bed using a garden trowel. Determine the length of the furrow by taking the number of cuttings and adding a space allowance of 12 inches on either side of each cutting.

Insert one forsythia stem into the furrow every 12 inches. Insert the stem 3 inches into the furrow and press the soil around the base so that it stands vertically.

Water the forsythia cuttings to a depth of 4 inches every other day. Apply a 2-inch layer of mulch around the cuttings to help prevent them from drying out.

Transfer the forsythia plants to a permanent bed after 45 days.

Tips & Warnings

  • Take hardwood cuttings from forsythia bushes from late December until early February.


  • "American Horticultural Society Plant Propagation: The Fully Illustrated Plant-by-Plant Manual of Practical Techniques"; Alan Toogood; 1999
  • "Manual of Woody Landscape Plants: Their Identification ornamental Characteristics, Culture, Propagation and Uses"; Michael A. Dirr; 2000
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