Bladder Senna Info – Tips For Growing A Bladder Senna Bush

Bladder Senna Bush
(Image credit: Charlotte Bleijenberg)

Whoever gave this shrub its common name – bladder senna - didn’t do it any favors. What is a bladder senna? Bladder senna bush (Colutea arborescens) is actually an attractive plant with spring flowers. Its puffy seed pods, which are in the shape of bladders, mature in autumn. Read on for more bladder senna information.

Bladder Senna Info

Bladder senna shrub is woody and deciduous and grows very rapidly. It tops out at 11 feet (3.6.m.) tall by 9 feet (3 m.) wide. Native to the Mediterranean region of Europe, you see quite a lot of it in the southwestern and northeastern parts of the United States. 

Bladder senna bushes bear little, pea-type flowers in summer, pollinated by bees. Some are bright yellow, others pink or orange. The puffy seedpods hang on the branches of the shrub in September and October. 

Note: The bladder senna seeds are poisonous.

Bladder senna bushes are pioneer plants that grow readily in disturbed areas. They attract wildlife and provide pollen for insects. The shrubs are hermaphrodite, which means that each one has both male and female organs. One reason gardens like to plant bladder senna is that they can fix nitrogen in the soil. 

Some people use this shrub medicinally. The bladder senna leaves are said to be mildly diuretic and can be used instead of senna as a laxative. However, the effects are not reliable, making it difficult to count on this plant as a medicinal herb. 

Growing a Bladder Senna

The best regions for growing a bladder senna are U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 5 through 7. They grow best in a site with six or more hours of direct sun but can also grow in semi-shade. 

Bladder senna shrubs are not picky about soil types. They can grow in a variety of situations, accepting clay, loan, silt, sand and shallow rocky soil. They are not particular about soil pH either, and grow in acidic, alkaline and neutral soil. 

The plant shrugs off strong winds, as long as they do not involve maritime exposure. Bladder senna bushes also tolerate atmospheric pollution.

Teo Spengler

Teo Spengler has been gardening for 30 years. She is a docent at the San Francisco Botanical Garden. Her passion is trees, 250 of which she has planted on her land in France.