Royal Purple Smoke Tree - Knowledgebase Question

Ivyland, PA
Avatar for tristau
Question by tristau
October 11, 2002
Latin cotinus caggygria how often do you prune? and do you prune to grown? What does it like? Sun Can you cut it like a hedge. Or do you leave it alone for 4 years and then prune? Any advice. Thank you
Someone told me it grows to 12 feet flowers in summer and red leaves fall and dense but leave do fall off is that true???

Answer from NGA
October 11, 2002
Cotinus coggygria or the Smokebush or Smoketree grows to between 10 and 15 feet tall and wide. It is usually an unkempt looking plant and although it can be grown as a specimen tree, it is often preferred used in a mass planting or shrub border.

If trained as a tree, it needs little pruning except to remove any winter damage each spring.

If grown as a shrub, it will need to have any winter killed wood removed each spring along with some occasional pruning to try to keep the outline more regular. Since the plant blooms on old wood, pruning will reduce flowering.

Some gardeners grow this plant for its foliage rather than its blooms. In this instance, the plant is cut back very hard -- to the ground or close to it -- in late winter each year. This forces vigorous new growth with larger than usual foliage. There will be no blooms at all with this treatment and the plant will not reach its maximum size.

The plant is deciduous, so the leaves do fall off each winter. The foliage color depends on which variety you grow, some are more green, some are more purple leafed. Fall coloring also seems to vary somewhat from plant to plant and depending on the growing condtions each year.

It prefers a full sun location and is very tolerant of most average growing conditions except that it will not tolerate a wet, soggy location.

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