How to Grow Abeliophyllum — White Forsythia

white forsythia
Abeliophyllum, white forsythia, growing near yellow-flowered forsythia

Abeliophyllum–commonly called white forsythia– is a small deciduous shrub grown for its fragrant early-spring flowers. Abeliophyllum is not a true forsythia, but it blooms at the same time as forsythia in very early spring. Flower buds are less likely to be killed by late frosts than those of true forsythia.

Abeliophyllum is an open, spreading shrub. It grows to about 5 feet (1.5m) tall and wide. Flowers appear ahead of leaves. Abeliophyllum bears masses of small (1/2 inch) slightly fragrant flowers densely packed on arching branches. Oval, blue-green leaves appear by summer.

Grow Abeliophyllum in a sunny border or plant it near a warm wall. Abeliophyllum can also be planted in mass.

Abeliophyllum is a genus of one species native to the hills of Korea.

Get to Know Abeliophyllum

  • Plant type: Deciduous shrub
  • Growing zones and range: Zones 5-9
  • Hardiness: Hardy to Zone 5
  • Height and width: 3 to 5 feet (1-1.5m) tall and wide
  • Foliage: Oval 1- to 2-inch blue-green leaves
  • Flowers: 4-petaled, cross-shaped fragrant 1/2 inch flowers in axillary racemes before leaves appear; flowers appear on the previous year’s growth.
  • Flower color: White, sometimes pink tinged
  • Bloom time: Late winter, early spring
  • Uses: Shrube border, planted in mass
  • Common name: White forsythia, Korean abelialeaf
  • Botanical name: Abeliohyllum distichum
  • Family name: Oleaceae
  • Origin: Korea
Abeliophyllum, white forsythia, blooming in early spring
Abeliophyllum, white forsythia, blooming in early spring

Where to Plant Abeliophyllum

  • Grow Abeliophyllum in full sun or light shade.
  • Plant Abeliophyllum in humus-rich, well-drained soil.
  • Abeliophyllum blooms before spring weather turns warm, so plant its bloom time can be apprciated from indoors.

When to Plant Abeliophyllum

  • Set container-grwon Abeliophyllum outdoors in spring or fall

Planting and Spacing Abeliophyllum

  • Space Abeliophyllum 3 to 5 feet (1-1.5m) apart.
  • Plany Abeliophyllum where early flowers are protected from harsh, cold wind.

How to Water and Feed Abeliophyllum

  • Keep the soil evenly moist for best growth and blooms.
  • Fertilize Abeliophyllum with an all-purpose, organic fertilizer in spring.

Abeliophyllum Care

  • After blooming, cut back stems to strong buds near the ground to encourage a denser, fountain-like shape.
  • Flowers form on the previous season’s growth, so do not prune until after the flowers fade.

Abeliophyllum Pests and Diseases

  • Abeliophyllum is usually not bothered by pests or diseases.

Abeliophyllum Propagation

  • Propagate Abeliophyllum from softwood cuttings or by layering in late spring.
  • Semihardwood cuttings of more mature growth can be taken in mid- or late-summer.

Abeliophyllum Varieties to Grow

  • Abeliophyllum distichum, white forsythia. Grows to 5 feet tall and wide with open, spreading habit; cross-shaped fragrant flowers appear in late winter or spring before the plant leafs out. Cultivar ‘Roseum’ has pink flowers.

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