COTINUS: Smoke Tree
Most every one loves those deep shades of purple in the garden, but cannot seem to get enough of it. This can be a solution for those large spots in the garden that are missing something!
So many varieties of smoke trees are great for a quick fix. Their dense to graceful habits can achieve a screen size. They can also be cut back to the ground to rejuvenate very large colorful foliage.
DISCLAMER: If you have a smoke tree don’t call the fire department when it is blooming. Their very delicate tiny flowers are in 6” tall clusters that cover the shrub to small tree, making the appearance of a blur which can resemble smoke. After you have enjoyed them in summer take a breather because there fall color is absolutely something to write home about. Many varieties explode with bright orange red to yellow fall colors.
Cotinus obovatus - American Smoke Tree. The bluish to dark green leaves turn magnificent yellow, orange amber, red and reddish purple in the fall. It may be the best American tree for fall color. Small flowers in summer, can be grown as a shrub or a tree. Grows to 25-30' tall, sun.
Cotinus coggyria Upright, spreading, loose and open often wider than taller. Stem are a stout brown to purplish. Good in a shrub border also good in masses. Often used as a focal point of interest. Some gardeners cut the smoke trees to the ground in late winter to force vigorous shoot growth which is more colorful than the normal shoot extentions.
‘Cookes Purple’ / ‘Purpureus’
Purple leaves all summer turn red & orange in the fall purple smoke inflorescences - 8-12' tall and as wide.
‘Golden Spirit’ Discovered by Ham Sanders and Christina Bastiana Adriana of Boskoop, the Netherlands and a fine choice to contrast against the smoldering 'Grace'. The leaves are shades of bright clean lime green to golden yellow, even when exposed to direct sunlight where this leaf color has a tendency to scorch. Autumn foliage turns electrifying shades of coral, orange and red, more varied and tonal than purple-leaf Cotinus. A fireworks display from season to season. 12’ tall and 8’ wide, Z 4, sun to part shade.
‘Grace’ A hybrid with C. coggygria ‘Velvet Cloak’ x C. obovatus, this cultivar has purple leaves that mature to blue-green and very large, 12"-14" panicles of pink blooms. The fall color is also excellent turning red orange and yellow. Award of merit from the Royal Horticulture Society in 1983. 8’ – 12’ tall and wide, Z 5-9
‘Pink Champagne’ The new growth bronzy purple maturing to greenish. Feathery pink blooms. Vigorous upright habit to 6-8' tall and wide, possibly larger with age, sun, Z 5-8
‘Purple Supreme’ Excellent dark purple foliage ages to a purplish pink. Brilliant red in fall. Large airy plume like flowers. Grows to 8-10' tall & wide, sun, Z 3, 8- 10’ tall and wide.
Foliage emerges a rich maroon-red and darkens to almost purplish red or black A reasonable compact plant. Rich reddish purple fall color. 8-12’ tall and wide, Z 4.
This is a dark purple-leaved form holds its color well and develops striking orange-red fall color. Grows 10’ tall and as wide, Z4-8
‘Young Lady’ (shown in side column) Blooms & Blooms & Blooms. A new introduction from the Netherlands! Frothy pink blooms cover every inch of this plant in early summer all the way until frost. Green summer leaves turn to yellow in fall. 8-10', sun, Z4
Common: Smoke Tree, Smoke bush
Origin: Native to southern Europe to central China, hardy to zone 5
Flowers: Flowering occurs in June, the flowers are held in 6" to 8" long and wide panicles. The showiness of the bloom results from plumy hairs on the sterile flowers the panicles change colors as they age during the months of June, July, August and September at their peak, the panicles are a "smokey" pink and can cover a plant.
Foliage: Alternate simple leaves 1.5” – 3.5” long oval shaped. Colors range from gold green to greenish blue, and purple.
Size: Ranging from 6’ shrubs to 25’ trees.
Light: Full sun
Soil: Easily transplanted. Smoke trees are adaptable to many soils and pH. Very drought tolerant, will tolerate poor soils.
Disease: relatively trouble free
Hardiness: USDA zone 5 some times in warmer parts of Z 4