Canary Island Broom – Cytisus canariensis

There are few flowering plants that can match the profusion of yellow flowers produced by the Canary Island Broom. The intense yellow ‘pea-flowers’ hang in long clusters.

The plant is native to the Canary Islands. It is a small bushy shrub with green bark and trifoliate leaves that resemble the leaves of Clover. They are covered with silky white hairs. The plant is an evergreen.

As a small shrub, it is normally 20-30cm (8— 12in) tall when it is purchased. Standard plants are usually 90-150cm (3-4ft) tall. It grows very quickly.

Colours and varieties

Cytisus canariensis racemosus, from the Canary Islands, is the most common variety to be grown as a houseplant. It is a bushy plant with brilliant yellow flowers that last throughout the summer months. One of the reasons why it is popular with indoor gardeners is that it is an easy plant to propagate. It is often confused with the C. canariensis, which has lighter-coloured flowers and leaves.

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When in flower and kept carefully trimmed to shape, the Canary Island Broom will add a splash of colour in the home. Place it on a windowsill or in a situation where it will get good light. In the summer it can be moved outside onto the patio.

Taking cuttings

Take tip cuttings with a little heel of bark from the main stem after the plant has flowered, in April or May. Place in potting mixture to which you have added 25-30 per cent Perlite. Give cuttings some bottom heat at about 18— 21°C (65-70°F) and keep slightly moist. Move rooted cuttings to individual pots.

Canary Island Broom makes a splendid specimen plant. Remove flowered shoots after flowering.

Through The Year

April—May

Spring is a good time to take cuttings, but wait until the plant has stopped flowering. Pinch out the tips of young plants to encourage bushiness. To make a standard plant, continually remove the stems at the base and on the lower trunk of the plant as it grows.

June—September

Your plant will grow best outdoors during the summer months. It can remain there until early autumn, but do remember to water it generously. Add a standard liquid fertilizer every 2 weeks until September, when it should be moved inside. The best temperature to keep it at in summer is around 18°C (65°F).

October—December

In October, place the plant in a room where the temperature can be kept at between 4— 10°C (40-50°F). Feed very sparingly during these months.

January—February

Move to a bright spot where it is about 15°C

(60°F). Water moderately and feed once a week as soon as the first buds appear. Now is the time to repot, if necessary.

March—April

Water well and keep evenly moist. When flowering is finished, cut back old growth by one half and give the plant a little less water.

Introduced broom (Cytisus scoparius) flower, W...

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Plant Problems

Aphids are this plant’s only real enemy, although an attack does not usually cause much damage.

Treatment: If you notice the insects early enough, before there are too many, spray them with a strong stream of water to wash them away. For more serious attacks, spray with an insecticide, carefully following the instructions given on the label.

Buds and flowers wither and fall off if the plant has been given insufficient water.

Prevention: Never allow the plant to dry out; keep the potting mixture evenly moist.

Yellow leaves are caused by overwatering. Treatment: Let the mixture dry out a little, and never let the plant stand in water.

PLANT CARE

Needs extra care. Pinch out the stems of young plants to get a bushy shape, and cut back old growth after the plant has flowered.

  • Potting: Repot each year in normal potting mixture to which you have added 25-30 per cent Perlite.
  • Water generously through the spring, when the plant is in flower, and also the summer. Water moderately in the winter. Never allow the potting mixture to dry out.
  • Feeding: Feed with a standard liquid fertilizer; frequency will vary with the season.

GROWING CONDITIONS

  • Light: This plant needs plenty of light, and does best in direct sunlight. If possible, place out of doors from June until September.
  • Temperature: You will achieve success with this plant if you can vary the temperature according to the time of year.

When to buy

  • It is usually available from February to April when it is flowering, but it is particularly popular at Easter time.
  • Can be bought. Young or as a standard potted shrub. Choose a healthy specimen with lots of flower buds. Avoid any with yellow leaves.
  • Many people throw the plant away after it has finished flowering, but it can survive for years.

Cytisus is the well-known and popular garden broom. There are many species and cultivars, but the only one worth growing as a wall shrub is C. battandieri, the pineapple broom, so-called from the scent of its flowers and the shape of the flower clusters, which are bright yellow and borne in June and July. It is a spectacular shrub that will grow up to 4.6m (15 ft) on a wall, its light green leaves covered in silky hairs looking particularly good against red brick. The pineapple broom was introduced from Morocco in the 1920s, and it needs a sunny site. It is deciduous, but will retain its leaves on a good site or in a mild winter. A south-facing wall is best.

General care: A sunny site and rather poor soil are preferred. Some chalk is tolerated. Use container-grown plants, putting them in in September or March. Prune in the summer, removing the shoots which have just finished flowering.

C. x praecox, Warminster broom, is a winter-hardy, broad, compact shrub, 1.75-2 m tall, and flowers in April-May. It has arching stems, undivided, greyish-green leaves, 1-2 cm long, and fragrant, whitish-yellow flowers; ‘Allgold’, pale yellow and some darker yellow flowers; ‘Hollandia’, purplish-red flowers; ‘Zeelandia’, creamy-white with lilac. C. scoparius (syn. Sarotbamnus scoparius), common broom, is sensitive to frost, with dense, interlocking shoots, 2-2.5 m tall. It flowers in May-June, and again (less profusely) in August-September. It has green, squarish stems, leaves composed of three leaflets with silky hair on the underside, which grow on stems at first, but are unstemmed and oblong after flowering. The flowers are golden-yellow; ‘Andreanus’ has dark yellow flowers, blotched with red; ‘Burkwoodii’ has pale lilac and red flowers with a yellow edge; ‘Palette’ is yellowish-white with dark red.

 

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