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Forsythia Alternatives: Great Spring-flowering Shrubs

In certain regions, the start of springtime makes it obvious that forsythia is ubiquitous. Its bright yellow flowers seem to be everywhere. Not a fan of this shrub? Happily, there are forsythia alternatives for your garden.

forsythia alternatives

Forsythia (shown) is popular for its low maintenance requirements and its early and bright-yellow bloom. Not all gardeners are fans of forsythia, though, for any or all of the following reasons:

  • It’s too commonly grown
  • It doesn’t offer much interest when it’s out of bloom
  • Its color can look garish, particularly against softer early-spring flowers
  • Its heavy bloom, with flowers that line each and every stem, can be overwhelming
  • It isn’t native anywhere in North America
  • It doesn’t offer value to wildlife
  • It has escaped into wild areas in some states (yet it is listed as an alternative to invasive plants in others)
  • It gets big and can be messy in habit and difficult to prune well

For those gardeners who don’t like the shrub, there are forsythia alternatives:

Spicebush (Lindera benzoin): Fragrant yellow flowers bloom in early spring on this rounded native shrub that’s an important larval host plant for several butterflies. More on spicebush.

Golden currant (Ribes odoratum and R. aureum): These native shrubs can have the arching shape of unpruned forsythia and tubular flowers in bright gold. More on R. aureum.

Fothergilla: This shrub offers an early bloom of white bottlebrush flowers on naked stems, plus vivid foliage in the fall. Read about 'Mount Airy' fothergilla.

Ozark witch hazel (Hamamelis vernalis) and hybrid witch hazels: These shrubs, some native, bloom extremely early, with small but showy flowers in yellow, orange or red. Fall foliage can be nice, too. Read more about Ozark witch hazel.

Image credit: claudiodivizia / iStock / Getty Images