Broom

Broom's vivid yellow flowers bring warmth and vibrancy to the garden, as well as a wide range of wildlife. It is commonly found across the UK on sandy pastures and heaths, occasionally in woodland and often near the coast. Broom is also a good shrub to introduce into a home garden, particularly on steep or very dry banks or slopes, where other shrubs may struggle. But broom is lovely in many an informal wildlife garden and not only will it delight the eye, it will also even help other plants grown near it by fixing nitrogen from the air into the soil.

Growing broom:

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. The site can be exposed or sheltered – in the wild broom is able to colonise the most unlikely looking coastal places. It will grow in any well-drained soil though be warned that it may not thrive on shallow chalk soil. However, it should be okay with very acid soils and can tolerate maritime exposure and atmospheric pollution.

You can grow broom from seed although it is fussy about being transplanted from a fairly young stage so it can sometimes be easier to take a semi-ripe, late-summer cutting from an existing plant. If you want to take a punt you could try planting seeds where they are to grow in late summer or early autumn when they ripen, though germination can be a little hit and miss. With half-ripe cuttings, a cutting planted into a cold frame in August will root in the spring. It is essential that it is not left too long before potting up because it soon becomes rather intolerant of root disturbance, especially when more that 20cm tall.

The broom plants have a root system that delves very deep. One established they are extremely drought tolerant and are hardy down to about -20 degrees Celsius. Its tolerance of pollution means it could be a good plant for a city centre garden as well as for anywhere with difficult soil conditions.

Why grow broom in the garden?

Aside from its beautiful yellow flowers, the main reason to grow broom in the garden is that it has a symbiotic relationship with certain bacteria which form nodules on the plant's roots and fix atmospheric nitrogen into the soil. Some of this is used by the growing plant itself, but some is also made available to other plants growing nearby and the soil of your garden bed will be naturally and organically enriched.

As a nitrogen fixer, broom is a beneficial companion plant for many other plants. It is also a boon to the bees and several species of caterpillar and butterfly, making it a wonderful addition to a wildlife garden. 

Quick Facts

Latin Name
Cytisus scoparius