Genista tinctoria: characteristic and growing tips

We add this curious ornamental plant for the garden. It has a shrubby character and will fill in flower beds or sunny garden beds very well. The species name Genista  tinctoria alludes to its use for the extraction of a natural yellow dye used in the Middle Ages. Currently this feature has been forgotten. So today we recover a little the memory of this golden yellow flowering shrub.


Its origin is somewhat diffuse between western Asia and eastern Europe. In any case, it spread rapidly through the European temperate forests and the Mediterranean area. In the Middle Ages its use spread and consequently its cultivation for dyes, specifically the yellow of its abundant flowers. It is a perennial shrub plant, a family of Fabaceae that has a high ornamental value as a shrub massif.

In full bloom (spring and summer), the flower clusters dress the entire massif in strong yellow, almost golden, very similar to the sunflower petals in intensity. The flowers are bilabiated and flared, forming the aforementioned racemes. It is commonly called broom dyeing, broom dye or hiniesta de los dintoreros. At the end of flowering, fruiting gives pods very similar to those of the pea, although not edible.


Formerly, in addition to serving as a dye, it was attributed medicinal properties of which references can still be found today. In any case, its toxicity is already known and its use for medicinal purposes is not recommended in any way, not even topically. You can find articles on the internet where you can find references to infusions of Genista tinctoria .

From Gardenprue, we do not advise its use given the controversy that exists regarding its toxicity. It has never been considered by the scientific community as a plant with medicinal properties.


Although some of its active ingredients are toxic, there is no reason not to grow it in the garden. Its ornamental characteristics prevail.


It is a feral plant that supports low temperatures very well during winter. Frosts down to -20 ºC will not make a dent in its plant structure. So we don’t have to worry about winters in cold areas. It can be an option to consider for mountain gardens .

We have to place it in full sun if we want the best results. It is a plant that fits very well in the rockery garden.


The preferred soil of Genista tinctoria planta should be well drained and loose, fresh and moderately fertile. The ideal pH is usually slightly alkaline . To achieve the required state of the soil, it is recommended to do some work to loosen the soil and make a small contribution of compost, so that we improve drainage and enrich the soil.

In any case, being a legume species, it has the particularity of fixing nitrogen in the soil, making it a plant that will carry this important macronutrient in the garden. Compost or other organic matter or fertilizer applications should be applied in early spring.


It is recommended to prune after flowering to control and limit growth to our liking. Watering should be moderate. Withstands drought but is not a rosemary. Moderate watering in the garden will be appreciated.


Although it seems feral, its management as a plant dedicated to obtaining the dye and ornamental, has originated some varieties selected for this ornamental purpose.

There are them of a more orange yellow almost golden (Royal Gold) and other varieties with a lower growth so that the shrub does not dismantle in its growth and is more compact within a flower bed.

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