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Cytisus - Growing Guide

Growing Cytisus – Broom

With one exception, Cytisus ‘Porlock’, all the brooms which we offer are deciduous shrubs originating in Europe and North Africa. They are fully hardy and tolerant of most soil types. Poor soils which are acidic are fine as are alkaline or clay soils providing they are not shallow and chalky.

These plants have a place on a dry bank in any coastal garden or in any herbaceous border because of their attractive pea shaped flowers in March or April which are followed by oblong mid-green hairy or downy pea pods of seeds.

Cytisus x praecox varieties are compact shrubs with arching shoots and small pointed leaves which are about ¾in long. C. x praecox has bright yellow flowers while C. praecox ‘Hollandia’ has split cream and dark pink flowers. The flowers appear on either side of the ends of last year’s new growth. These plants grow to around 4ft in height.

Cytisus scoparius varieties also have arching shoots and three palmate leaves. In flower they are as conspicuous as gorse but without the prickles. This species and its many forms flower a little later in spring than C. x praecox and they too are at the ends of last year’s new growth. C. scoparius ‘Burkwoodii’ has dark pink flowers with yellow margined ‘wings’. C. scoparius grow to around 5ft in height.

Cytisus are easy plants to grow but, to keep them contained and in shape, you will very probably need to prune them after a few years. This should be done straight after flowering to allow time for further new growth to develop through the summer which will then produce next year’s flowers. Be careful not to cut right back to the woody stem but only to near the end of the fresher green growth. If you overdo the pruning the woody stems do not reshoot.

Cytisus are easily grown from seed set in the cold frame in autumn or spring. Expect most of your seedlings to turn out yellow if you collect your own seeds. Other coloured varieties are best grown from semi-ripe cuttings in mid summer.

Cytisus ‘Porlock’ is a much more vigorous evergreen grower although its life span may only be 10 years or so. It flowers profusely in the spring with clear yellow fragrant flowers and can readily grow to 10ft or so in maturity. It dislikes pruning except when young and the same pruning rules apply. With us in Cornwall you will often get a secondary flush of a few flowers in late summer and on into autumn.

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