Ginestra - Genista

Le Ginestre

With the term broom are indicated, in Italian, some shrubs, evergreens or deciduous leaves, very common among the plants of our gardens, and some even in the Mediterranean scrub; these are plants belonging to the same family, but of different genera, and therefore not all have identical cultivation characteristics. They are all called brooms because the similarity of the flowers is very marked, so much so that often at first sight they would all be the same plant.
The distinctive feature of the brooms are the flowers: a golden explosion that covers the entire plant, in the spring or summer months. Some brooms are suitable for living throughout Italy, others are slightly delicate, and need coverage during the colder weeks of winter; all of them, however, love the sun intensely, and are perfect for the garden's brightest and sunniest flower beds, so much so that many brooms have been positioned as decorations along the Italian highways. In addition to the golden yellow broom, the most typical and widespread, there are brooms of various colors, often in shades of pink.


The genus genista counts some tens of species of shrubs, with deciduous leaves, widespread throughout the Mediterranean area; the name of this genus derives from the common name broom, and therefore perhaps it is precisely the genistas that can be identified as broom more.
In nurseries in general we find only genista lydia, a species of Middle Eastern origin, much appreciated above all for its small size. These brooms have small, oval leaves that fall during the cold months, but can remain on the plant in the case of particularly mild winters; the stems are green, erect, poorly branched, and tend to fall back to apexes; the brooms tend to develop roundish, up to a height of about 60-80 cm. They prefer very sunny locations with warm climates; they do not fear drought, but on the contrary they do not like the excesses of watering; during the winter months they should not be watered and can withstand temperatures close to -10 ° C. From June until the end of summer they produce a profusion of small golden yellow flowers. They are also cultivated in pots, so that in areas with decidedly cold winters it is possible to place them away from the intense gel.


Also known as Spanish broom or scented broom, spartium junceum is the only species of the spartium genus; it is a perennial shrubby plant, which produces long cylindrical, semi-woody, light green, very branched stems; the habit of the shrub is very broad and branched, with the apices of the arched branches. Often the spartium, over the years, tends to become excessively messy, and therefore generally in autumn it is pruned at about thirty centimeters from the ground, so as to obtain, the following spring, a more compact and orderly plant. It has minute leaves, and produces golden flowers in the summer, with a characteristic, very intense aroma, also used in perfumery. Spartium is also a plant of Mediterranean origin, present in Italy even in the wild; prefers very sunny locations and loose, very well drained soils; once in the house for a couple of years it is a shrub that does not require care, contenting itself with the water provided by rainfall.


Also called gorse, or spiny broom, the ulex, unlike other brooms, has trifoliate leaves, present only in young specimens, with the passing of the years, all the leaves and young shoots are transformed into long, sharp spines, similar to needles of juniper. Gorse is a plant of Mediterranean and European origin, there are species typical of the Mediterranean maquis, and others more widespread on the Atlantic coast, of various sizes, from 20-30 cm, up to a few meters high. The bearing is dense, and quite disordered, with many ramifications; the flowers of the ulex in general bloom together in small groups, making the golden yellow flowering, which lasts from spring until late summer, even more striking. They are plants adapted to live in conditions characterized by sun and drought, and therefore they fear water stagnation and excess watering; they prefer stony or sandy soils. They are evergreen shrubs, and most species can survive even very cold temperatures.


Also known as thorny spartio or hairy spartio, depending on the species, it is always a broom typical of the Mediterranean maquis, slightly more delicate than the others, as far as winter temperatures are concerned. It produces thin green stems, very branched and disordered, and produce large shrubs, which can reach a few meters in height; they prefer sunny positions and do not fear the drought, even if prolonged. They are plants suitable for Mediterranean rock gardens, with porous and sandy soil, completely devoid of water stagnation, which can quickly cause the death of plants. The flowers bloom throughout the summer, gathered in racemes.

Ginestra - Genista: Cytisus and chamaecytisus

The cytis are brooms of Mediterranean origin, present in Italy also as wild plants, the chamecitisi were once belonging to the genus cytisus, and are characterized by having flowers in general lilac or rosé, and prostrate or ground-covering stems.
These brooms are very common in nurseries, also because some hybrids have been produced, with flowers of various colors, from white to orange, from pink to red. There are, in addition to the varieties, many species, present in cultivation also in the garden; some are evergreen, others are deciduous; some species have small trifoliate leaves, others oval foliage, light green; flowering occurs in spring or summer, and is not always repeated in the following months. Although it easily tolerates drought, to have a continuous flowering it is advisable to water regularly, but waiting for the soil to dry perfectly between two waterings. The species and varieties with less branched stems, tend with time to lignify in the lower part, suspending the blooms, for this reason it is not recommended to prune the plants at the beginning of autumn, leaving them at about 25-35 cm from the earth, in order to favor the development of more compact shrubs. Some species of cytisus do not like the cold understood, and therefore in winter they are cultivated in cold greenhouses, or however well covered with non-woven fabric and mulched at the base of the stem.