Broom Plants: Care & Growing Guide (2023)

Broom plants are small- to medium-sized shrubs with evergreen or deciduous foliage that grow quickly in a lax, bushy habit. Leaves are green and small, usually lanceolate. The two main species that share the common name broom are Cytisus and Genista. Both look very similar. The main difference is that Genistas are more tolerant of lime in water and soil.

Broom plants bear pea-like flowers in shades of yellow that attract pollinators. Cultivars and hybrids in a wide range of other flower colors are also available.

Broom plants are toxic to humans, and toxic to pets. If you decide to plant a broom, which can be done in the spring or fall, be aware that depending on where you live, certain broom species might be classified as invasive.

Common NamesBroom, broom plant
Botanical NameCytisus spp., Genista spp.
FamilyFabaceae
Plant TypeShrub
Mature Size6-8 ft.tall, 5-6 ft. wide
Sun ExposureFull
Soil TypeLoamy, well-drained
Soil pHAcidic, neutral, alkaline
Bloom TimeSpring, summer
Flower ColorYellow, white, red, orange, purple
Hardiness Zones5-8 (USDA)
Native AreaEurope
ToxicityToxic to humans, toxic to pets

Broom Plants: Care & Growing Guide (1)

Broom Plants: Care & Growing Guide (2)

Broom Plants: Care & Growing Guide (3)

Broom Plant Care

Broom plants come in varying heights and colorful displays. Setting aside concerns about the invasive nature of brooms, their landscape uses are quite versatile. For example, brooms display pops of color in the spring and summer which can contrast nicely when planted in front of other green shrubs. Taller varieties of brooms can be planted as a hedge or border. The dwarf varieties of brooms look beautifully nestled as mass plantings in a rock garden.

Broom plants like workable, well-draining soil in open, sunny locations. The plants will tolerate wind, poor soil, drought, and rocky soil and are overall low-maintenance.

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Warning

Broom plants are considered invasive, especially in California and Washington State, where it is prohibited to sell or distribute Scotch broom.

Light

Brooms grow best in an open area with full sun, though they will tolerate some shade. Follow the light and location directions for the specific variety. Overall, too much shade tends to make broom plants leggy with fewer blooms.

Soil

Establish in well-drained loam or poor soil (clay, sand, or loam). Acidic soil is best. Cytisus dislikes alkaline/chalky soils and Genista tolerates lime more easily. Broom can thrive in poor soil, through drought and neglect, and can even fix the nitrogen in the soil with fibrous, fast-growing stabilizing roots.

Mulch alkaline soil in the spring with ericaceous compost.

Water

Water regularly for the first few months if there is not enough rainfall to keep the soil moist. Maintain moisture in its first year to establish roots. Give an inch of water each week during its first summer and during heat or drought. Let the soil dry out between waterings.

Broom benefits from habitual watering if the location is dry and the soil is poor.

Temperature and Humidity

Broom performs best in conditions that would cause many other flowering shrubs to fail. It will bloom as early as late winter and through the early spring months in the cool temperatures of USDA Zones 8-10. Temperatures between 35 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit during the autumn and winter months encourage blooming.

Apply a 2-inch layer of lightweight shredded bark mulch to keep the roots cool and the soil moist. This will also provide a layer of insulation against the hot summer sun. Make sure the mulch doesn't touch the base.

Fertilizer

Broom thrives even in poor soil, therefore fertilizer is usually not necessary.

Broom Types

There are numerous broom species, cultivars, and hybrids. Popular ones include:

Cytisus Varieties

  • Cytisus x kewensis(Kew broom) reaches 2 feet tall and is ideal for rock gardens. This wide, low-growing shrub displays pale yellow to creamy white flowers in spring.
  • Cytisus x spachianus (sweet broom) is a hybrid with bright yellow, sweetly fragrant flowers in late spring.
  • Cytisus x 'Lena' (Lena scotch broom) a dwarf variety that grows 4 feet tall. Foliage is deep green and flowers are ruby red and yellow through spring and early summer.
  • Cytisus x praecox (Warminster broom) is a hybrid that grows to 5 feet tall offering pale yellow flowers in early May.
  • Cytisus scoparius(common broom, Scotch broom) puts on a long show of yellow flowers on its 5-foot reach from May to June. There are several cultivars of the species. 'Cornish Cream' has ivory cream and yellow flowers. 'Goldfinch' is crimson and yellow with pink and yellow wings. 'Killiney Red' is a smaller, compact variety with red blooms. 'Burkwoodii'reaches between 5 and 7 feet tall, with crimson flowers in late spring.
  • Cytisus racemosus nana (dwarf yellow broom) reaches about 5 feet in height and also grows well in containers. It has so many yellow flowers from spring to summer they nearly cover the whole plant.

Genista Plant Varieties

  • Genista lydia(Lydian broom) grows 2 feet tall and spreads 3 feet. Its green arching stems are covered with golden yellow flowers in May and June.
  • Genista hispanica(Spanish gorse) reaches 3 feet tall and spreads at least 7 feet wide. Golden flowers cover this dense, spiny shrub in June and July.
  • Genista aetnensis(Mount Etna broom) grows 10 feet tall and spreads 8 feet wide with linear leaves and yellow flowers that bloom in July.

Pruning

This low-maintenance plant usually does well without pruning, but because many brooms have relatively short lives, pruning can extend their line span. There are slight differences in pruning Cytisus and Genistas.

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Pruning Cytisus

Prune Cytisus varieties every year after they have stopped flowering.

When pruning Cytisus racemosus, timing is of the essence. Flowers appear on old wood and pruning at the wrong time could prevent or delay blooming. Prune in late spring or summer after bloom season is over. Do not prune in autumn or winter. Give the plant enough time to produce mature wood so that it will flower in spring again. Use very sharp, sterilized pruning shears to cut the plant back by a third. Cut each time at a 45-degree angle. Cutting straight across will cause the stem to hold rainwater and rot.

Pruning Genistas

Pruning of Genistas depends on the variety so it is crucial for proper pruning to know which variety you have. For example, Genista aetnensiscan be cut back quite a few times each season to encourage bushy growth. Genista hispanicacan be lightly sheared after it is finished flowering. Genista lydia, on the other hand. does not need to be pruned at all.

Propagating Broom Plant

Broom has a deep, branched taproot that resents being disturbed. This rules out division as a propagation method but you can grow the plant from cuttings:

  1. In July or August, using a sharp knife or pruners, take 3-inch healthy cuttings of semi-mature wood below a leaf node. Don't take cuttings any earlier or they may not root.
  2. Dip the bottom in rooting hormone. Insert the cutting in a 4-inch pot filled with moist, well-draining potting mix.
  3. Place the pot in a cold frame and keep it moist. The cuttings should have developed roots by the spring. Plant them promptly before the roots grow too deeply.

How to Grow Broom Plant From Seed

Broom seeds may be erratic to germinate. Also keep in mind that if you collect seeds from a cultivar, you will not get a plant that is true to the parent. If you still want to try growing broom from seed, here's how it's done:

  1. In March or April, soak seeds in warm water for about 24 hours before sowing.
  2. Use pots or flats filled with sandy soil. Plant the seeds 3/4 inch deep.
  3. Keep the pots at 65 degrees degrees Fahrenheit indoors or outdoors depending on your climate. Germination time varies; Scotch broom takes up to four weeks to germinate.
  4. Plant the seedlings the spring without much delay because the roots will grow long and the plant does not do well when transplanted at a late stage.

Potting and Repotting

For container growing, choose a smaller or dwarf variety. Choose a pot large enough to accommodate the root ball of the plant plus 6 inches to allow for future growth. Make sure the pot has large drainage holes. because the plants do not like wet feet. Fill it with well-draining lightweight potting mix.

When the roots fill the container or grow out of the drainage holes, is it time to repot the plant to a larger container.

Overwintering

Broom does not need any winter protection when planted in the ground, In potted broom, on the other hand, the roots are not sufficiently protected. Insulate the roots by wrapping the container in burlap and bubble wrap, or place it in an insulating silo for winter protection.

Common Pests & Plant Diseases

Webworms are the most common issue to look out for. They tend to overwinter in old debris, so rake the area around the plant completely clean. Broom plants are also susceptible to gall mites, an attack caused by fungus dieback; it will result in stunted growth, which is sometimes desired where the plant is considered invasive.

How to Get Brooms to Bloom

Brooms often don't bloom until the second or third year. If a mature plant fails to bloom, it is usually due to pruning at the wrong time and accidental removal of the flower buds. The other reason could be lack of sunlight. Broom needs full sun to bloom.

FAQ

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Article Sources

The Spruce uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

  1. Toxic Plants. University of California.

    (Video) 7 टिप्स मोगरा के लिए / How to get more flowers on mogra jasmine plant / mogra care tips n fertilizer

  2. Scotch Broom. Pet Poison Helpline.

  3. Brooms. University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources.

  4. Scotch Broom. Washington State Noxious Weed Control Board.

FAQs

How do you take care of a broom plant? ›

Maintain moisture in its first year to establish roots. Give an inch of water each week during its first summer and during heat or drought. Let the soil dry out between waterings. Broom benefits from habitual watering if the location is dry and the soil is poor.

When should I cut back my broom? ›

Cut Broom in Bloom at ground level, while broom is in bloom, usually mid-April through early June. The drought stressed plants will die in the summer's dry heat.

What time of year does broom flower? ›

Broom is a large, deciduous shrub, similar in appearance to gorse, but without the spines. This member of the pea family is common on heaths, in open woodlands and along hedgerows, and can also be found at the coast. Its bright yellow flowers appear in spring, from April to June, and smell of vanilla.

Is broom easy to grow? ›

Broom plants golden vanilla-scented flowers appear for a couple of months from late spring to early summer. As an evergreen, it should be planted more often in gardens, as it is easy to grow and beneficial to local wildlife.

Should you cut back broom plants? ›

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.

Are you supposed to trim your broom? ›

Before you toss out your old broom thinking that's it's well past its prime, try giving your broom's bristles a little haircut to make it just as good as new. Think about it: Those frayed bristles are a lot like split ends. All they need is a trim!

How tall does broom grow? ›

Brooms can get 3 to 10 feet (92 cm. – 3 m.) tall with angled stems and small simple to trifoliate leaves. Stem shape separates the broom shrub varieties.

Do brooms grow in shade? ›

Broom is a deciduous plant. It blooms its vivid yellow in late spring. It prefers to be planted in full sun but will tolerate a little shade and can be used to provide texture and height in a flower border.

Can I move a broom plant? ›

If you are up north and have a deep freeze- then wait until the ground thaws out in early spring and move them then - making sure to keep as large a root ball as possible so the roots are disturbed in the least possible way. Relocate them where you will not have to move them again.

Do brooms self seed? ›

It is a short-lived shrub but tends to reseed itself. It can be weedy and rapidly grow to crowd out native plants. If plants are unwanted, pull them before they flower and set seed.

Is broom poisonous to dogs? ›

Broom is on the Dog's Trust's list of poisonous plants, containing toxic alkaloids that can have an adverse effect on animal's heart and central nervous system, if ingested.

Do bees like broom? ›

Broom - Good provider of nectar for bees. Buddleia - A valuable nectar source for butterflies and bumblebees. Chives - Attracts bees and butterflies.

Should you cut back Scotch Broom? ›

Pruning is essential and unlike pruning for most shrubs, the Scotch Broom bush flowers in the spring and is pruned after flowering has occurred. The key to pruning is to do it after seed dispersal. Thinning out the branches allows sun to reach the center of the bush.

Can you eat broom flowers? ›

The flowers don't taste of much but they are an excellent addition to a salad. The buds of these flowers can be picked and added to salads as well, they have a nutty flavour.

How do you prune a sweet broom? ›

Pruning Sweet Broom

Do not prune in autumn or winter because the shrub won't have time to produce mature wood for its spring flowering. To control the size and improve the overall shape of sweet broom, prune back the entire plant by one-third using very sharp, sterilized pruning shears.

Does broom have seed pods? ›

Broom is a non-spiny shrub whose seed pods turn black when they are fully ripe. It is one of the flowering plants which Plantlife keep track of in the National Plant Monitoring Survey - click here to find out how you can help out. It is most likely to be confused with Gorse, but this has long spines and no leaves.

What's the difference between gorse and broom? ›

To summarise, then: Gorse (Ulex) have complicated green spines, but no leaves. Whin (Genista) have simple brown spines, and leaves. Broom (Cytisus) have leaves, but no spines. There you go!

How often should you replace broom? ›

When to replace: Like toilet brushes and mops, you should replace brooms when the bristles or strands are already worn down. Consider replacing a broom or floor brush as well when there are noticeable gaps between the bristles; the bigger the gaps, the less effective the broom will be at sweeping.

How can I make my broom work better? ›

5 Ways to Make Your Broom & Dustpan a Million Times Better
  1. Use a wide-toothed comb to clean out your broom. ...
  2. Add zip ties to the handles. ...
  3. Use duct tape when it's time to sweep your pile into the pan. ...
  4. Run the dustpan under the faucet. ...
  5. Put a tennis ball on the end of your broom handle.
29 Jan 2020

What can I do with old brooms? ›

Old brooms can have other uses, too. I keep one with a broken handle in the trunk of my car. It's great for cleaning snow off of the car or for sweeping the floor mats. If you saw off the worn-out bristles, wooden broom handles make sturdy stakes for garden vegetables like tomatoes and squash.

Why is broom called broom? ›

The word "broom" derives from the name of certain thorny shrubs (Genista and others) used for sweeping. The name of the shrubs began to be used for the household implement in Late Middle English and gradually replaced the earlier besom during the Early Modern English period.

What is broom plant used for? ›

Scotch broom is a plant. The flower and the parts that grow above the ground are used as medicine. Despite serious safety concerns, Scotch broom is used for heart problems including fluid retention (edema), poor circulation, low blood pressure, fast heartbeat, and irregular heartbeat.

Why did my Scotch broom turn brown? ›

Scotch broom has bright yellow flowers, which are shaped like pea flowers and are about ¾ inch long. The plants bloom from April to June, forming green seedpods, which turn black or brown as they mature. The pods each contain several seeds.

Can you take cuttings from Cytisus? ›

As the varieties do not come true from seeds they should be propagated by cuttings placed firmly in a bed of very sandy soil in a cold frame in August, or in similar soil in a shaded place out of doors and covered with a bell jar. The cuttings are made from firm summer shoots, 2-4 in.

Why is my Spanish broom turning brown? ›

Is this normal or is my plant dying? A: Spanish Brooms are very beautiful plants. However, they do have a tendency to freeze and can die during severe winter months even though they are rated for zone 4. If some branches are brown cut them off in early spring.

How do you transplant a broom bush? ›

How to Transplant a Broom Bush
  1. Cut back the main stem of the broom to about 50 percent of height of the plant. ...
  2. Tie up the loose side branches into a bundle with twine. ...
  3. Slice into the soil with a shovel, making a circle around the main stem about 24 inches in diameter for mature plants.

Why is Scotch broom a problem? ›

Scotch broom will displace native vegetation and beneficial plants causing loss of grassland and open forest habitat. The seeds and other plant parts are toxic to humans, horses and other livestock.

How do you prune a witches broom? ›

Scotch Broom - YouTube

Should you cut back Scotch broom? ›

It is also important to begin trimming when the tree is young. Begin your scotch broom pruning before the tree is mature, and prune back its stems annually. This stimulates growth to prevent that scraggly look. When you prune a scotch broom plant, be conservative about how much to trim.

How big do broom plants get? ›

Broom shrub plants may get 9 feet (2.5 m.) tall and produce some spectacular bloom displays in spring. The plant can get a bit invasive in some areas though, but a little information on broom shrubs will help you control the plants while still enjoying their ease of care and brilliant blooms.

How tall do broom plants get? ›

Description. Scotch broom is a bushy, drought-deciduous shrub that grows three to six feet tall. The green branches are sharply angled with five green ridges, and they are hairy when young and without hairs as they mature. Scotch broom reproduces vegetatively and by seed.

Do brooms grow in shade? ›

Broom is a deciduous plant. It blooms its vivid yellow in late spring. It prefers to be planted in full sun but will tolerate a little shade and can be used to provide texture and height in a flower border.

Why is Scotch broom a problem? ›

Scotch broom will displace native vegetation and beneficial plants causing loss of grassland and open forest habitat. The seeds and other plant parts are toxic to humans, horses and other livestock.

Does Scotch broom bloom all summer? ›

Plants have sharply angled branches and bright yellow flowers. Plants bloom between March and June, before leaves emerge.

Can I move a broom plant? ›

If you are up north and have a deep freeze- then wait until the ground thaws out in early spring and move them then - making sure to keep as large a root ball as possible so the roots are disturbed in the least possible way. Relocate them where you will not have to move them again.

Are all broom plants invasive? ›

Initially introduced as ornamentals, they were later promoted by federal and state agencies for erosion control along roadsides and in mined areas. As a result, five broom species have become naturalized in California and are classified as invasive weeds by many federal, state, and local jurisdictions.

Does Scotch broom stay green all year? ›

DESCRIPTION: Scotch broom is a perennial evergreen shrub in the legume family. It grows up to 10 feet tall. It has stiff, dark green branches, which grow more or less erect, and often have few leaves.

Is broom poisonous to dogs? ›

Broom is on the Dog's Trust's list of poisonous plants, containing toxic alkaloids that can have an adverse effect on animal's heart and central nervous system, if ingested.

How many times does Scotch broom bloom? ›

It flowers in late March to April inland, April to June on the coast. Flowers appear before leaves. Long-lived seeds are copiously produced (to 12,000+ seeds/mature shrub) and mature in June and July.

What's the difference between gorse and broom? ›

To summarise, then: Gorse (Ulex) have complicated green spines, but no leaves. Whin (Genista) have simple brown spines, and leaves. Broom (Cytisus) have leaves, but no spines. There you go!

Can you eat broom flowers? ›

The flowers don't taste of much but they are an excellent addition to a salad. The buds of these flowers can be picked and added to salads as well, they have a nutty flavour.

Do brooms self seed? ›

It is a short-lived shrub but tends to reseed itself. It can be weedy and rapidly grow to crowd out native plants. If plants are unwanted, pull them before they flower and set seed.

Where does broom grow? ›

Brooms are a group of evergreen, semi-evergreen, and deciduous shrubs. All the brooms and their relatives (including Laburnum and Ulex) grow in Europe, north Africa and southwest Asia. The greatest diversity one can find in the Mediterranean region.

Is broom good for wildlife? ›

Broom - Good provider of nectar for bees. Buddleia - A valuable nectar source for butterflies and bumblebees. Chives - Attracts bees and butterflies. Fennel - Lacewings, ladybirds, hoverflies and butterflies love this plant.

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