Cut Broom in Bloom!

If you’re in an area that suffers from the plague that is Scotch Broom, now is the time to cut (at least in the PNW). This stuff is apparently well-behaved in its native Scotland, but in BC it’s an absolute plague, and most people think there’s no way to beat it back for good. Not true! Broombusters.org has an excellent tutorial on how to cut broom back and the essentials are: cut it clean to the ground while the bushes are blooming (before it’s gone to seed) and avoid disturbing the soil. When a perennial flowers, it’s partially a process of moving the energy of a plant from the root system into the flowers and leaves, so cutting it at this stage steals a lot of energy from the plant. This will stress most established broom plants enough to kill them once the summer dry season hits. Unlike other stubborn invasives, broom only spreads by seed, not by root fragments or runners. It’s important to avoid disturbing the soil because broom seeds can lay dormant in the soil for up to 20 years, so pat down the moss or other groundcover after you cut. Broom needs light to germinate so if there’s groundcover or shade, it won’t grow.

This is pretty for 2 months of the year, ugly as sin for the other 10 months, and may contribute to burning your house down and choking out all native life. 👍

I had a huge broom stand across the street from my house when I moved in, and 2 broom-cutting seasons later, there’s a very clear distinction between the area that’s been managed (by me!) and the neighboring unmanaged areas. There are other people on Pender who cut broom, including the Broom Queen of Pender, Ursula Poepel of the PI Conservancy Association, but not enough that we’ve beaten it back all the way quite yet. Qualicum Beach is effectively broom-free and it’d be nice if we could get Pender that way too someday, since it lowers fire damage risk and creates room for native plants to grow.

If you see something that looks a little bit but not quite like Scotch Broom planted intentionally in someone’s garden, try not to get too judgemental right away. There are ornamental versions and cousins of the Scotch Broom that aren’t invasive and don’t self-seed, so they shouldn’t contribute to the overall broom problem.

This is a “Lena” hybrid Scotch Broom, which is said not to self-seed.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *