Brooms are shrubs grown for their small, pea-like flowers in late spring and early summer. Two species share this common name – Cytisus and Genista. They are broadly similar, although Genista does better on alkaline soils.
Broom flowers come in the more familiar shades of yellow but also white, pink, orange and red. The small leaves act as a foil for more showy plants. Some brooms are low growing, while others have a graceful, arching shape. Most are compact and suitable for small gardens, although the Mount Etna broom (Genista aetnensis) reaches over 4m x 4m. They are mostly deciduous.
Cytisus scoparius is native to Britain, and looks similar to gorse but without its sharp spines. It's found on heaths, on the edge of woodland, in hedgerows and near the coast. It's thought that broom is so-called because its long stems were used to make brushes.
Drought tolerant when established, broom is a good plant for a mixed border. It does well in poor soils, so is ideal for a gravel garden. It is also wind tolerant, so is a good plant for an exposed or coastal garden.
How to grow broom
Grow in most well drained soils, in a sunny spot. Prune Cytisus after flowering; Genista does not need pruning.
More like this
Growing broom: jump links
- Planting broom
- Caring for broom
- Pruning broom
- Growing broom: problem-solving
- Buying broom
- Best broom to grow
Where to grow broom
Plant broom in any well drained soil, in a sunny spot. Broom does well on poor, stony or sandy soils and can also be planted on a slope. If you have alkaline soil, opt for Genista.
How to plant broom
Plant in spring or autumn, when the soil is warm and moist. Plant at the same depth of the rootball.
How to care for broom
Water newly planted plants in their first year, until they are established, after that it should get all the moisture it needs from rainfall. There's no need to feed a broom plant. You could pinch out the shoots of young plants to encourage a bushy shape.
How to prune broom
Cytisus should be pruned after flowering to ensure a good display of flowers the following year. Cut off the parts of the stems that have flowered, taking care not to cut into old wood. There is no need to prune Genista.
Growing broom: problem solving
Broom is generally problem-free.
Best varieties of broom to grow
Cytisus 'Lena' – unusual red and yellow flowers on an upright, compact plant. The leaves are dark green. It holds the prestigious RHS Award of Garden Merit.
Height x Spread: 1.2m x 1.2m
Cytisus x praecox 'Allgold' – deep yellow flowers in May and June, on arching stems. It holds the RHS Award of Garden Merit.
H x S: 1.5m x 1.5m
Cytisus x boskoopii 'Boskoop Ruby' – as its name suggests, this is smothered in ruby-red flowers. It holds the RHS Award of Garden Merit.
H x S: 1.2m x 1.2m
- Buy Cytisus x boskoopii 'Boskoop Ruby' from Crocus
- Buy Cytisus x boskoopii 'Boskoop Ruby' from Thompson & Morgan
Genista 'Porlock' – a rounded, semi-evergreen shrub with bright yellow flowers in spring. It holds the RHS Award of Garden Merit.
H x S: 1.5cm x 1.5cm