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Plant of the Month - Coronilla valentina

Updated: Oct 2

In late winter our gardens aren’t at their most vibrant, so now is the perfect time to brighten them up with a pop of colour.

February’s plant of the month is Coronilla valentina subspecies glauca ‘Citrina’, a winter-flowering shrub that will light up the dullest days of winter. Fragrant, long-flowering, evergreen, wildlife friendly and low maintenance - only thing this plant lacks is a catchy name!

This dwarf evergreen shrub belongs to the Fabaceae (pea) family. Coronilla valentina is native to Southern Europe but fully hardy in Cambridge’s relatively mild winters.

‘Citrina’ blooms throughout winter, well into spring and often again in late summer. Dense clusters of up to 15 lemon-yellow flowers virtually cover the plant for much of the year. The crown-shaped umbrels give “coronilla” its name. Blooms resemble pea flowers and have a subtle, sweet, citrus scent. Upper lips are a buttery yellow, the lower lips a vibrant yellow. The bushy foliage is bright grey-green with pinate leaves of 5-7 leaflets which remains attractive year-round. Bees and other pollinators benefit from the long flowering season.

‘Citrina’ is happiest in sunny, sheltered spots facing South or West. It will happily grow in containers - and the foliage looks especially good in contemporary grey or silver-coloured pots.

If planting in heavy soil, add grit and compost to the planting hole to assist drainage. Removing crossing or diseased branches after flowering and applying mulch to the base in winter is all the maintenance required to keep this lovely shrub at its’ healthiest.

Its’ compact size (80cm tall and wide) makes Coronilla valentina subspecies glauca ‘Citrina’ ideal for city gardens, sunny courtyards and sheltered roof terraces. It can also be trained vertically up to 180cm high – perfect for a sunny wall or entranceway where you can make the most of the beautifully scented flowers. This adaptable shrub is a great addition to any modern garden design.

Cornilla valentina ‘Citrina’ is pest and disease-resistant, virtually maintenance-free and suits any moist, well-drained soil. With so much to recommend it, it’s no surprise that Coronilla valentina subspecies ‘Citrina’ has received the prestigious RHS Award of Garden Merit.

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