Thursday, May 3, 2012

Long live your Brooms!

Cytisus 'Butter and Eggs'
Day 105
The Daily DuBrule

I love Scotch brooms. They smell intriguing, a unique scent that speaks to me of early May. They are great cut flowers, the ideal filler for spring bouquets. All winter long I cut the evergreen, linear stems for arrangements, including at Christmas time. That is the secret to success.

Brooms are notoriously short lived plants. Books say 7 years and, left alone, that is about right. They have few fibrous roots, being legumes, and rock easily in the wind. The tops grow long and when it snows, easily bend, break, and pull the plant down with it. The secret is a yearly HARD pruning. I'm not talking about a little pinch at the top, I am talking about cutting the plants back by 25% or more the very first year you plant them and then continuing this process every single year after that. The goal is to have thick, dense plants that are branched low. That way the plant is more stable. I also put some very strong, decorative metal stakes amongst my brooms if they seem at all loose or floppy. This seems to help stabilize them.

Brooms like sandy, exceptionally well drained soil. They will die if the soil is too wet or heavy. They need full sun. Locate them properly, continuously prune them by cutting their branches for fresh arrangements all year long, and they will give you many years of pleasure. 

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