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Spring and Summer Shrubs with Yellow Flowers

Updated on July 23, 2014
Forsythia | Source
Forsythia hedge
Forsythia hedge | Source

Yellow Flowering Shrubs for Sun or Shade

Spring brings a burst of yellow color to the landscape. Forsythia and daffodils are the first to bloom, followed by other yellow flowers. If you love yellow, consider adding a yellow shrub to your landscape. Two of my favorites are forsythia, a spring blooming yellow flowering shrub, and Kerria japonica, or Japanese kerria. Both landscape shrubs are suitable for sunny or partially sunny areas, and both bloom prolifically once they become established. They need relatively little care and are easy to propagate. Best of all, few garden pests bother them. You can't ask for more for a garden shrub than that!

While forstyhia is easy to find at local nurseries and garden centers, kerria may be more challenging to find. A friend knew I was on the hunt for kerria and rescued several shrubs from a neighbor's garden that were being removed when the contractor began excavating the yard for a swimming pool. There are several mail order sources for kerria, and some local tree or shrub nurseries may be able to order it for you.

Growing Forsythia

One of the earliest harbingers of spring is the forsythia, a yellow flowing shrub that hails from Asia and southeast Europe. It's a relative of the olive family, and named after William Forsyth. Forsyth was a Scottish botanist who founded the British Royal Horticulture Society.

About Forsythia

Forsythia are characterized by opposite pairs of leaves on each long, pliable stem, and of course the beautiful bell-shaped yellow flowers that appear in the spring. Forsythia blooms on old wood, which means that while you can prune them, you'll get the most out of them if you do not prune them. They can grow up to 12 feet tall with a 10 foot spread, so many landscapers recommend using them as garden specimens rather than foundation plantings; trimming them regularly to keep them below the windowsills only hinders their blooming ability. If you must prune forsythia, prune them immediately after they finish blooming in the springtime.

Planting and Care

Plant forsythia in a sunny location if you can. They'll bloom better in direct sunlight, or a spot that receives six or more hours per day of bright, direct sunlight. They can survive in partial shade but won't bloom as heavily.They do not require any special soil or fertilizer. Water well after planting and during times of drought. Forsythia aren't prone to many diseases or insects, so no special care is needed.

Propagating Forsythia

You can easily propagate forsythia by taking a cutting below a nodule on the branch. Dip it into rooting hormone, then place it into a pot with sterile soil. Water well, and keep it covered with a clear plastic bag. Keep it on a sunny windowsill or under plant lights. It should take root within a month. You can also bend one of the long branches over to the ground and use a landscape fabric stake, a U-shaped metal stake, to hold it in the ground. Place soil over the spot that touches the ground. Make sure it is a nodule on the stem. Water well. The new plant will root from the nodule.

Kerria japonica
Kerria japonica | Source

Growing Kerria Japonica

Kerria japonica, as the name suggest, hails from Japan. It is also native to China and Korea. It is in the family Rosaceae, and is named after William Kerr. Kerr lived around the same time as Forsyth and was a Scottish botanist known for collecting plants worldwide.

Kerria japonica offers another yellow flowering shrub for your garden. Like forsythia, it tends to have a wild, open habit, growing up to six feet tall and about as wide, and it dislikes pruning. There are only two types of Kerria to choose from - a double pompom flower variety, like the one I photographed here in my garden, and the species type, which looks like a rosa rugosa with a yellow flower.

Planting Kerria Japonica

Choose a location where your kerria can be enjoyed from a distance. The flowers do attract bees, and you may want to keep the plant away from patios or pools so the bees don't bother you. They are hardy to Zone 4 and do not need any special soil.

Kerria can be grown in full sun, partial shade or shade, so take your pick of locations. Plant is in the spring and water it well after planting. It does not like moist locations, so avoid planting it in areas where water puddles or pools.

Propagating Kerria

Kerria can be divided or propagated from woody stems. Simply divide the parent plant with a clean, sharp spade, and replant the divisions. Root woody stems similarly to the method described above for forsythia.

Long Lived Yellow Flowering Shrubs

Forsythia and kerria share another attribute which most gardeners will appreciated. They are very long-lived shrubs. Both can live for decades, easily living for 30 or 40 years. As a hardy, easy care and beautiful flowering shrub, both kerria and forsythia are excellent additions to many North American gardens.

My cats playing near the forsythia. This hedge is less than five years old and it is already quite tall.
My cats playing near the forsythia. This hedge is less than five years old and it is already quite tall. | Source


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    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 

      5 years ago from New York

      Great choice for spring. Forsythia of course is the more common of the two. I like your breakdown on how to grow and care for both plants. I was excited about the beautiful Kerria Japonica until I read further and found your warning about the bees. This is a very helpful hub, especially this time of year.

      Voted up, useful, and interesting.


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