Ask the Gardener: Forsythia, lawn issues and butterfly bush

Posted on: March 17, 2020 | Written By: Doug Oster | Comments

Everybody Gardens editor Doug Oster gets asked a lot of questions. A lot. And he doesn’t mind offering gardening advice. But rather than just limiting those answers to the person who asked, we thought it might be a good idea to share that wealth of knowledge with everybody.

There are three ways to send in your questions:

  • Email
  • Submit your question on our “Your Garden” section of our site
  • Send us a message on Facebook.

(The questions may be lightly edited for grammar/clarity/etc.)


Question 1: Forsythia

Brad: Can forsythia be started from a cutting or do I need a root start?

Doug: You could root forsythia from a cutting, as they root pretty easily. Even when I cut the branches for indoor flower forcing, they start to leaf out. This video shows how I’m taking cuttings. Another way to propagate them would be layering or moving smaller plants next to the mother plant.

Question 2: Lawn issue

Pat: We have had several spots in our lawn dug up recently. The guy at the garden shop told us grubs wouldn’t be a problem and not to treat for them until late July. If not grubs, do you have any suggestions as to what the problem might be and how to remedy it?

Doug: I think what’s happening is that skunks or opossums are digging up the lawn in search of the grubs. There is a great, organic control for grubs called beneficial nematodes. They can be found at garden centers. They are a living organism that will hunt down the grubs. It’s not effective until soil temperatures are above 50 degrees, so probably early June. It’s a great way to get rid of the grubs without killing all your soil life.

butterfly bush forsythia

Question 3: Butterfly bush

Tracy: Should trim back our butterfly bush since it’s growing from branches instead of the bottom? If so, how?

Doug: Cut it down to about 18 inches. I know that will be hard to do, but it’s the best thing for the plant. If you don’t cut it back, it will become more of a woody tree/shrub and usually doesn’t bloom as nicely.

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