Scotch Broom Pruning: When And How To Trim A Scotch Broom Plant

By: Teo Spengler

Scotch broom (Cystisus scoparius) is an attractive shrub that rises to about 10 feet (3 m.) high with an open, airy growth pattern. Despite the beauty of its bright yellow spring flowers, it can easily look disheveled if not pruned correctly. Pruning a scotch broom shrub must be done conservatively and at the correct season. Read on for information about scotch broom maintenance.

Scotch Broom Pruning

Scotch broom plants may require pruning because of broken or diseased branches, like any other shrubs. More often, however, gardeners decide to prune a scotch broom plant because it has outgrown its allotted space or grown scraggly as it matures.

However, once the plant is fully grown, it may be too late to reshape it by trimming and it can even get out of hand, requiring control. Scotch broom maintenance must begin while the shrub is young.

How to Trim a Scotch Broom

The first rule for pruning a scotch broom shrub involves timing. Although broken or diseased branches can be pruned off at any time of the year, size or shape pruning should only be undertaken in late spring, immediately after flowering.

This rule about pruning a scotch brook shrub in springtime is critical if you want an attractive bush. The scotch broom sets its buds for the following year just after spring flowering. If you snip in autumn or winter, you will dramatically reduce the number of flowers your plant produces the next summer.

What Age to Prune a Scotch Broom Plant?

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.

But when you prune a scotch broom plant, be conservative about how much to trim. Only trim back a little to shape the tree. Never cut off more than one-quarter of the foliage in any one year. If you need to do more scotch broom pruning than this, spread the clipping over a number of years.

Once the tree has grown large, it is too late to repair its scraggly look. According to experts, the mature branches do not retain many green buds. If you cut these branches back severely, you are not likely to get a fuller plant; in fact, if you prune a scotch broom shrub in this manner, you may kill it.

Note: Although broom plants produce attractive, sweet-pea like blooms, they have become highly invasive in many areas. It is important to check with your local extension office before adding the plant or its relatives to your landscape to see if allowable in your area.

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Read more about Broom Plants

My broom is beautiful but has taken over! I need to get it under control before my climbing rose vanishes behind it!

A broom shrub should be pruned when dormant (late winter, early spring) but it will not hurt it to prune some now, if you need to.

The best way to prune it is to remove some of the oldest branches/stems/trunks all the way back to the ground and then shape the remaining into the size you need it to be.

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Scotch broom

About the Scotch Broom

A low maintenance, flowering shrub family with a round, mounding habit and thin, green stems that are covered in fragrant, pea-flowers ranging in colors from white, yellow, orange, red and bicolor in late spring/early summer. Small, bright green foliage on the stems gives broom a fine texture, and unique profile in the garden. This is an excellent choice for dry butterfly or cottage gardens. They tend to thrive on neglect, using them in drier, sandy areas once established such as rock gardens, mixed borders with little irrigation, and containers.

Care Notes

Plant in well-drained, sandy soil. Water well after planting maintain 1” of water once a week the first year. Prune or shear back immediately after flowering to control size, and remove stray shoots or damaged limbs anytime. Remove 1/4 of old stems from the base each year. Feed at least twice during the growing season with a slow release fertilizer in early spring and again mid-summer. Follow label instructions. Mulch 2″ to suppress weeds, retain moisture and protect against extremes of soil temperature.

Planting For Success

We want your new plants to look as amazing at home as they do in our garden centers! And we know the level of care taken when planting can make all the difference. Follow Angelo's six easy steps for best results and performance.

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Mine is only 2 years old and glorious. I had to stake it last year, which is still in place. It's about 3' tall, but wider this year. I had no idea one should prune them!

I recall years ago my aunt had one. It flopped over, so she tied it to the fence. It's all good.

Mine is 'Garnet' and living up to its name! Yeah!


Here's a picture from year 2. They've now grown up a bit and the bottom 12-18 inches is old wood and looks leggy. If I had been pruning all along it might have delayed this problem a bit.

Here is a link that might be useful: <>


Beautiful! Thanks for the link!
happy gardening,


a great resource for pruning:

Look like mounds and are medium-tough plants, found in mass plantings. They have small leaves and supple branches. You usually just want to tidy them up or reduce their size. People like to shear these -- don't you! Examples of mounds are abelias, escallonia, barberries and broom. orange. Locate the longest, most unruly branch. Grab the tip with your left hand. Follow the branch down into the interior of the plant with your right-hand pruners, and snip it off two inches to one foot below the general surface level of your shrub. Cut to a side branch or bud, if possible.

These shrubs often benefit from taking out some of the old canes to their base. This opens up and renews the shrub. Any dead wood or weeds should also be removed.

Peffley: Take care in pruning Spanish Broom to avoid 'brooms'


If you are anywhere near the golden-yellow flowering shrub with bright green foliage that is now in bloom everywhere around Lubbock, you will be cocooned within a heavy, sweet, pungent fragrance of the ornamental Spanish (or Weaver's) Broom - or is it the Scotch (Scot's or Scottish) Broom?

To some folks these plants are almost interchangeable, but they are hardly the same.

While they are both members of the Fabaceae (pea) family and appear from a distance to be similar, upon closer inspection, they are quite different.

The specific epitaph of Spanish Broom is Spartium junceum, while Scotch broom is Cytisus scoparius. The Latin specific epithet junceum means "rush-like," referring to the shoots. Spanish Broom is often confused with Scotch Broom, but they are is easily distinguished.

Spanish Broom has clusters of fragrant bright yellow flowers borne in clusters at the ends of rounded, bright green stems stems are usually leafless but it does sparsely produce single lance-shaped leaves that are less than 1 inch in length. Scotch Broom flowers are similar but lack fragrance its stems are squared, bearing small, trifoliate leaflets.

When Spanish Broom is left unchecked, it may outgrow its placement in the landscape.

There is a strategy to keep a Spanish Broom attractive. Shrubs are frequently pruned by shearing or partially cutting back stems. Such clipping results in "broom-like" subsequent regrowth, in that clusters of new branches are produced at the tip of stems near the pruning point.

The broom-like regrowth is thin and spindly at the point where it was cut. Over time, such spindly growth becomes unattractive and flowers will be produced only on the outer portions of the shrub.

To avoid "brooming," prune by making rejuvenation cuts. A rejuvenation cut is made by removing old, large stems near or at ground level, while leaving smaller, newer branches. The thinning out of older wood encourages new growth to be produced from the base.

Younger branches are more floriferous than older stems, increasing flower production. Rejuvenation pruning also keeps the desired shape and size of the Spanish Broom.

Spanish Broom is native to the Mediterranean areas of Northern Africa, Western Asia and Southern Europe.

Spanish Broom was introduced into California as a garden ornamental in the 1850s and was planted along mountain highways and roadsides in Southern California in the1930s. Because Spanish Broom is well adapted to sandy, rocky, low nutrient soil, it is widely used in xeriscapes. Spanish Broom has naturalized in California, is considered invasive and is classified as a noxious weed in California and Washington State.

Some information from King County, Washington California Invasive Plant Council, Berkeley, California.

Pruning Broom Plants.

by Gardenadvice Tim Whitcombe · Published 27/06/2016 · Updated 23/06/2016

Pruning a Broom plant a is straight after flowering which is normally
May – June time.Cut all the flowering shoots back by half this will
encourage young shoots to form during the summer months which will
create flowers for the following season and will keep the broom plant
compact and bushy.With older broom plants One of the problems is that
they do not like being cut hard back into the old wood as they will not
re-shoot very strongly from old stems and branches it is sometimes
better to replace the old plants with new ones.

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Scotch Broom

Cytisus scoparius

Status in Squamish:

Status in Whistler:

Status in Pemberton:

Vectors of Spread:

ID Characteristics

General: Scotch Broom can be identified by its small, bright, pea-like yellow flowers and its rigid woody stems.

Flowers: Pea-like, bright yellow and often with a red center. The flowers are usually 2 cm long and have 5 petals.

Stem: Scotch Broom stems are rigid and woody and range from green to brownish-green. Young branches have 5 green hairy ridges, but they become smooth as they mature. Mature plants can be 1-3 m tall.

Leaves: Lower leaves are stalked and composed of 3 leaflets, while upper leaves are un-stalked. The leaves may fall off early in the year, leaving the stems bare.

Seeds: Scotch Broom flowers mature to form flattened seedpods (legume looking) that change from bright green to brown or black before they dry out and split. Each pod contains between 5-12 seeds.

Similar Species

Gorse (Ulex europaeus) is a (very!) thorny shrub with inch-long sharp spines that may grow up to 1.8 m tall. The flowers, similarly to Scotch Broom, are yellow and pea-like however the flowers are around 0.8 cm long and cluster on the ends of the branches.

St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum) is a perennial that grows to about 1 m in height. It has showy, bright yellow flowers with 5 petals that turn rusty red when they mature. It prefers dry, sandy soils and full sun.

Spanish Broom (Spartium junceum) is another invasive Broom plant with yellow flowers. You can spot the difference by their stems: Spanish Broom stems are round, whereas Scotch Broom stems are ridged. Spanish Broom also flowers later in the year.


Please report any sighting of Scotch Broom by clicking here.

Habitat and Origin

It was brought to North America from Scotland as a garden ornamental by Captain Walter Grant and planted on Vancouver Island in Sooke. Amazingly, Captain Grant only brought over 3 Scotch Broom seeds with him in the 1850’s and the plant has managed to spread and thrive across Vancouver Island, the Lower Mainland and Squamish at an incredible rate.

Scotch Broom grows in open, disturbed sites at low elevations and can be found along roads, railway lines and utility right-of-ways. It grows in areas with well-drained, sandy soils.

Propagation and Vectors of Spread

Scotch Broom can spread by seed as well as by lateral bud growth. The yellow flowers mature to form flattened seedpods that change from bright green to brown or black before they dry out and split. Each pod contains between 5-12 seeds. Mature plants can produce up to 3,500 seedpods, and each seed can stay viable in the soil for up to 60 years.

Scotch Broom is an extremely aggressive spreader and can quickly cover fields, meadows and deforested areas. It thrives in sunlight but can also grow in shady areas.


Economic and Ecological Impacts

  • Threatens biodiversity and disrupts the food chain by altering the nitrogen composition of the soil, which in turn can alter the potential composition of the surrounding area
  • Displaces native plant and animal species
  • Contains toxins that can harm animal health
  • Limits the movement of large animals due to the size and density of the thickets
  • Dense thickets also act as fuel loads, increasing the chance of forest fires

  • Obstructs sight lines on roads, railways and utility right-of-ways, resulting in increased maintenance costs for removal
  • Grows quickly in clear-cut forested areas, making the potential for forest re-growth extremely difficult, or nearly impossible
  • Takes over farmlands:
    • Once the plant roots, it can become a tripping hazard for horses and livestock within that enclosure
    • Toxic to animals

What Can I Do?

The best approach to controlling the spread of Scotch Broom is PREVENTION.

Learn to identify Scotch Broom: use the images presented in this profile page.

What to do if you spot it: You can report any Scotch Broom sighting by clicking here.

  • Regularly monitor properties for weed infestations.
  • Ensure soil and gravel is uncontaminated before transport.
  • Quickly re-vegetate disturbed areas with fast-growing competitive, native plants can limit growth of Scotch Broom and is a fundamental tool to limit it.
  • Minimize soil disturbance in area surrounding infestation.
  • Ensure plants (particularly flowering heads or root fragments) are bagged or covered to prevent spread during transport to designated disposal sites (e.g. landfill).
  • Plant Scotch Broom in a garden, no matter how well-contained its enclosure may seem.
  • Move soil that has been contaminated with Scotch Broom.
  • Unload, park, or store equipment or vehicles in infested areas remove plant material from any equipment, vehicles, or clothing used in such areas and wash equipment and vehicles at designated cleaning sites before leaving infested areas.
  • Mow or weed-whack Scotch Broom plants, as the fragments can propagate as new colonies. Frequent mowing may also accelerate shoot development, leading plants to spread laterally from the parent plant

Mechanical Control: Small seedlings (less than a pencil width) can be hand-pulled when the soil is moist. Larger plants must be cut down at the base of the stem before they begin to flower.

Due to Scotch Broom’s need of sunlight to photosynthesize, covering the newly-cut stem with soil, moss or plastic will help prevent regrowth.

Chemical Control: Commonly-used herbicides include triclopyr, imazapyr, aminopyralid and glyphosate, applied alone or in combination with 2,4-D. Herbicides can be applied from spring to late summer using selective spot spraying, basal stem injection, or cut surface application.

We recommend that any herbicide application is carried out by a person holding a valid BC Pesticide Applicator Certificate. Before selecting and applying herbicides, you must review and follow herbicide labels and application rates municipal, regional, provincial and federal laws and regulations species-specific treatment recommendations, and site-specific goals and objectives.

Biological Control: Seed-feeding beetles have been used in Washington State and have moved north along with two other agents that are not yet in BC, but are close to the Canada-US border. Grazing goats and chicken have been used in places such as Vancouver Island, and have been shown to reduce infestations.

Watch the video: The Making of a Sweet Broom Informal Upright Bonsai

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