Wednesday, November 04, 2020

Plant Profile: Smokebush

Smokebush is a shrub with many ornamental qualities. It has beautiful foliage and the airy seed-heads look like puffs of smoke surrounding the bush.

Smokebush (Cotinus coggygria) is also known as Rhus cotinus, the European smoketree, and Venetian sumach. It is a member of the cashew family. There is an American native version as well (C. obovatus).

It needs full sun to put on a real “smoke show,” but it can tolerate shade conditions.  It is a tough plant and needs little care. It is hardy from zones 5 to 8. It can reach up to 6 feet high and wide.

Use caution when mowing or working around a Smokebush, as the bark is thin and easily damaged by weed whackers or other garden equipment. It is deer- and rabbit-resistant.

Popular cultivars available include ‘Winecraft Gold’, with bright golden foliage, and ‘Winecraft Black’, which has dramatic dark foliage and a dwarf habit. Look in garden centers starting in 2021 for a new introduction called ‘The Velvet Fog’ from the Proven Winners brand. It has bright pink plumes with blue-green foliage.

Smokebush makes a good accent plant in the landscape or it can be grown in a grouping to form a hedge. It is deciduous and drops its leaves in late fall.

It can be trained and pruned to grow as a tree or a shrub. To prune a Smoketree, wait until late winter or early spring and selectively remove entire branches to attain the shape you like.

Smokebush - You Can Grow That!


The video was produced by Washington Gardener Magazine.

Visuals by Nicole Noechel
Audio by Kathy Jentz


Additional footage provided by Spring Meadow Nursery


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