Scotch Broom Companion Plants

Scotch broom is a tough shrub that has a varied reputation across North America. Some locations are perfect for growing this member of the Legume family in an ornamental garden setting, while others are overrun with the wild species. Thankfully, hybrid cultivars of this extremely low-maintenance shrub are available to grow in unrestricted portions of the country. The deep sunset colors of the hybrid cultivars mix well with other jeweled-toned flowers or colorful broadleaf evergreens in a mixed informal hedge. 

Scotch broom requires minimal fertilizing because all plants of the Legume family fix nitrogen from the air and store it in nodules on their roots for use later. Scotch broom requires at least 6 hours of full sun for healthy growth and heavy blooming. 


Photo by Leonora (Ellie) Enking, unedited, Flickr, Copyright CC BY-SA 2.0 DEED

Shrubs To Plant With Scotch Broom

Plant Scotch Broom as part of a mixed informal hedge alongside other early and late flowering shrubs. Pair it with lilacs, spirea, abelia, and smokebush to provide flowers from spring to late summer. Scotch broom also works as a soil stabilizer on sloped or terraced gardens. Grow heather, carpet roses, and prostrate rosemary in front of Scotch broom on a difficult-to-plant hillside or heavy traffic area. Allow plenty of space for smaller Scotch broom varieties to spread and sprawl, showing off their natural fountain-like shape. 

Perennials To Plant With Scotch Broom

Many drought-tolerant herbaceous perennials make good planting companions for Scotch broom. Silver leaf lamb’s ear, artemisia, and smaller growing ornamental fescues are a great contrast to the deep green foliage of most Scotch broom cultivars. Use tall growing perennials such as large coneflowers, black-eyed Susan, gaura, and taller ornamental grasses around Scotch broom, which tends to be done blooming by early summer. 

Apply mulch around Scotch broom and its companions to keep watering to a minimum. A thick mulch of organic material, such as finely shredded arborist chips or organic compost, will suppress weeds and help the soil retain moisture longer between waterings. 


Photo by K M, unmodified, Flickr, copyright CC BY 2.0 DEED

Annuals To Plant With Scotch Broom

Annuals in a garden bed tend to act as placeholders until other perennials or shrubs have reached their mature size. Cosmos, cleome, snapdragons, and larkspur are tall annuals that mix and match with Scotch broom and provide bold color. Annuals for edging and ground cover are also effective in front of Scotch broom. Try planting bright calendula, nasturtiums, or gazanias to highlight the yellows and oranges of the Scotch broom’s sweet pea-shaped flowers. Alyssum, petunias, or calibrachoa can give a softer and more romantic look to a bed planted with Scotch broom. 

Best Companion Plants For Scotch Broom in Containers

Annuals make the best pot mates due to their smaller and less aggressive root systems. Scotch broom is not generally grown in a container, although smaller cultivars under 2 feet are the best candidates for creating a container design. Choose a container that is at least 18 inches in diameter to create a mixed seasonal display. Ensure the pot has drainage and place it in a location that receives at least 6 hours of full sun a day. Treat the Scotch broom as a thriller and fill in around it with pansies and alyssum for an early season container.  For a summer-blooming combination, add petunias and calibrachoa to highlight the small foliage and flowing shape of the Scotch broom. 

Plants Not To Grow With Scotch Broom

Although Scotch broom tolerates a wide variety of soil textures and moisture levels, it will not grow well if planted with ferns, hostas, or other plants that thrive in full shade. Shade early in the day or during the hottest part of the day works well for Scotch broom and does not reduce growth or blooming. Scotch broom also does not grow well in locations that have seasonal flooding or boggy soil throughout the year, making aquatic plants unsuitable for growing with Scotch broom.

Best Plants To Grow With Scotch Broom

Pair Scotch broom with plants that need full sun and good drainage to ensure a low-maintenance garden plan. Large spirea varieties look amazing when planted with Scotch broom in the mid layer and edged with silvery green rosemary shrubs. Another great planting idea uses herbaceous perennials as companions to Scotch broom in a mixed perennial border. Bearded iris, Swan River daisies, tickseed, and tender perennial eucalyptus pack in a lot of foliage and flower texture into a small garden border.

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Author Robbin Small - Published 9-30-2023