The broom tree (Cytisus spp.), also known as common broom, European broom, Irish broom and Scottish broom, is native to Europe but has been naturalized around the world and grows particularly well in the western United States. Given its climatic preferences and water needs, the broom tree can survive very well in cooler, drier regions of Texas but can become scraggly or short-lived in other areas of the state.
Though broom is often called a tree, it rarely reaches heights of more than 8 feet, and on average grows to 4 to 6 feet tall with similar width. It grows in a mounding habit with stiff branches and small leaves that can be medium to dark green. The leaves of a broom are sometimes covered in whitish hairs that lend a frosted appearance. Broom trees are covered in profuse yellow or pink flowers for a short burst of time in the spring. Brooms are relatively inconspicuous in a landscape after the bloom period has ended.
Heat and Cold
Depending on the species, broom trees are hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 5 to 9. They are evergreen in milder climates but deciduous in colder ones. Broom trees tend to do better in mild, more Mediterranean-like summers than regions where summer temperatures soar.
Broom trees are considered drought-tolerant. In fact, they grow best in poor, sandy soils and require good drainage, making them great candidates for more central and northwestern regions of Texas. They can even be used for erosion control in sandy banks in some areas. In hot, moist climates like southern and eastern areas of the state, broom trees do not survive as well. In humid summers they often suffer fungal leaf spots and stem blights.
Broom trees are not considered invasive in Texas, as they are in other regions of the country. Certain species attract hummingbirds, including "Minstead" (Cytisus x "Minstead," hardy in USDA zones 6 to 9) and "Lilac Time" (Cytisus x "Lilac Time," hardy in USDA zones 6 to 9). Others, such as "Lena" (Cytisus x "Lena," hardy in USDA zones 6 to 9) are deer-resistant. Parts of the broom tree, including seed pods and young leaves, are poisonous if ingested and may cause skin irritation, so use care when planting or trimming.
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