Broom Control

Should I cut or pull broom?i_broom

The most recent recommendations based on research into broom are:

Pull broom plants when the stem of the broom is smaller than a pencil.

Cut them when the stem is larger than a pencil or when the broom is growing in rocky areas. In rocky areas with shallow soil, pulling out the roots usually disturbs too much soil.

When should I cut broom?

You can cut broom any time of the year, but the best time is when the plant starts blooming. Cutting during flowering stresses the plant and discourages regrowth. Cut at, or just below, soil level and cover the stump with soil or a rock, if possible. Try to cut before the seed pods begin to form to avoid spreading more seeds.

When should I pull broom?

The wet months are the best time of year. Once rains fall, the ground loosens-up and pulling broom roots becomes much easier and causes the least disturbance to the soil. Minimizing soil disturbance is important because the soil contains thousands of broom seeds. When they are exposed to the sun in the disturbed soil they are stimulated to germinate.

How many seeds you ask?

A broom plant typically produces 18,000 seeds a year. These seeds can remain banked in the soil for up to thirty years, ready to germinate when they are brought to the surface. So over 5 years, two plants in a one meter square area, could have dropped 144,000 seeds, which are just waiting for the right conditions to sprout, anytime in the next 30 years. Perhaps the moral of this story is that it is best not to put off until next year what you can accomplish this year. It will only make the job 18,000 times harder!

Disposal

Small amounts of broom without seeds can be scattered on site, or piled in a shady spot. Large amounts can be chipped on site and piled in a shady spot. Note that the Blackburn Garbage Transfer Station does not take any invasive species. On Salt Spring, in May and June, Scotch broom can be responsibly disposed of as goat fodder – contact Jan Steinman to set up a drop off time: 653-2024 or jan(at)ecoreality.org.

PLEASE AVOID MOVING BROOM PLANTS WHEN THEY HAVE SEEDS!