Cytisus

Make space for these colourful cheerleaders of late spring

Brooms are one of those shrubs with an air of yesteryear, perhaps even slightly unfashionable. But there’s no doubting their flower-power when in bloom, which in the best varieties is astonishing. Bees and other pollinators love them.  Most cytisus are shrubs from Europe and the Mediterranean, through to western Asia. They all have thin, whip-like evergreen stems and small leaves. They vary from mat-like shrublets through to rounded or upright shrubs as tall as 1.8m (6ft), usually found growing on poor, dry soil in heathland, short grassland or stony terrain in full sun. In the wild, flowers are predominantly shades of yellow, but other colours do exist, such as pink-purple Cytisus purpureus.  Hybrids also come in a range of vibrant or pastel red, pink or rustic shades, sometimes bi or multi-coloured. They tend to flower once over a few short weeks, so some gardeners judge them a luxury in the garden – but what a show! Grow cytisus in well-drained soil in full sun, avoiding damp or heavy clay soils. Give them shelter as they hate exposure     and strong winter winds. No need to heavily fertilise the soil –they’ll do that themselves. They just need an occasional clip after flowering or thinning to keep them in shape.  Most don’t take kindly to being hard pruned, especially when they get mature.  It’s best to replant with new, rather than transplant existing shrubs. 

Brooms are one of those shrubs with an air of yesteryear, perhaps even slightly unfashionable. But there’s no doubting their flower-power when in bloom, which in the best varieties is astonishing. Bees and other pollinators love them. 

Most cytisus are shrubs from Europe and the Mediterranean, through to western Asia. They all have thin, whip-like evergreen stems and small leaves. They vary from mat-like shrublets through to rounded or upright shrubs as tall as 1.8m (6ft), usually found growing on poor, dry soil in heathland, short grassland or stony terrain in full sun. In the wild, flowers are predominantly shades of yellow, but other colours do exist, such as pink-purple Cytisus purpureus

Hybrids also come in a range of vibrant or pastel red, pink or rustic shades, sometimes bi or multi-coloured. They tend to flower once over a few short weeks, so some gardeners judge them a luxury in the garden – but what a show!

Grow cytisus in well-drained soil in full sun, avoiding damp or heavy clay soils. Give them shelter as they hate exposure     and strong winter winds. No need to heavily fertilise the soil –they’ll do that themselves. They just need an occasional clip after flowering or thinning to keep them in shape. 

Most don’t take kindly to being hard pruned, especially when they get mature.  It’s best to replant with new, rather than transplant existing shrubs.