Cool Plant: February 4, 2010

Cotinus coggygria

Species Native Range: Asia & Europe
Hardiness: USDA Zones 5-8
Mature Size: 15-20 feet tall & wide
Exposure: Full sun to light shade
Soil: Average but well-drained
Drought Tolerance: Excellent
Ease of Culture: Easy

The smoketree is an usual small tree that blooms with "puffs" of mauve/pink flowers in the late spring or early summer. It often grows with an open and multi-trunk shape but can be pruned to provide a more "tidy" appearance. There are quite a few cultivars, some of which have lovely lavender or chartreuse leaves:

Plant smoketree in full sun to light shade. Flowering and foliage color will be better in full sun. The soil should be loose and well-drained. A yearly dose of lime to raise the pH will also be of benefit to these plants. Prune as needed after flowering. Fertilize in the spring as new growth appears.

Smoketree is a wonderful plant for smaller gardens or even in large containers on patios. Because there are choices in foliage color, try to blend this plant with others that have foliage in complementary colors. I have seen a nice combination of the lavender-leafed smoketree with chartreuse sweetflag, firepower nandina and a variety of golden heucheras. The "golden" varieties blend nicely with the black mondo grasses and purple-flowering verbena. You can even mix the golden and lavender varieties of smoketree together.


This tree is usually widely available from many retail nurseries in the spring through fall.

Unless noted otherwise, Images & Drawings Copyrighted © 2010 by Theresa Schrum - All rights reserved