Smoke Bush: Profusion Of Delicate Purple Blossoms From June To July

Smoke Bush: Profusion Of Delicate Purple Blossoms From June To July

Smoke Bush

Photo Compliments Of Far Out Flora

Cotinus coggygria ‘Royal Purple’, purple smoke bush, or smoke bush is one of the more spectacular plants in June and July.  The name comes from the profusion of delicate purple blossoms it produces each summer, resembling “smoke” rising from the very topmost branches of the plant.

The large oval purple leaves make a superb backdrop in your garden. This is a robust, sturdy plant that thrives in most conditions.  The smoke bush is a rounded shrub that can be grown as either a shrub or a tree; it can sprawl if not managed.   The burgundy leaves of the ‘Royal Purple’ Smoke Bush deepen through the summer, and then turn a vibrant purple-red in fall, especially dramatic in full sun. Its colored leaves are its signature since ‘Royal Purple’ does not flower as reliably as the green leaved smoke bush varieties.

It will take a few years for your smoke bush, or tree to come into its own.  Just give it a little time and do not be afraid to keep it in check by pruning down tall branches in late winter or early spring.  Aggressive pruning also ensures slightly larger leaves on a smoke bush.


The smoke bush is an should be considered an invasive deciduous shrub that offers year-round visual interest, it can also be problematic for allergy sufferers.  Site selection should be chosen thoughtfully and then the plant needs to be carefully maintained.  Left untended in full sunlight, the purple smoke bush will probably attempt a hostile takeover of your garden.

How To Make Your Smoke Bush Thrive

The purple smoke bush prefers full sunlight and can tolerate a variety of soil conditions. The preference is for a mildly acidic to alkaline soil pH with some sand, clay, or loam added in to the soil. You can expect the plant to reach a height of 15 feet and a 15 foot width.  It is a slow grower, so allow for growth at installation and this will reduce the need for garden redesign at some point.  The purple smoke bush appreciates regular watering as it grows, but it is important not to over water.  The rule of thumb is to water when rainfall is less than one inch weekly.

General Smoke Bush Information

Pests and Diseases

The purple smoke bush is susceptible to leaf roller, scabs, reticulum wilt, stem canker, and leaf miner. Commercial pesticide sprays combined with removal of affected foliage is the best course of action.


The  most effective method of propagating this plant is stem cuttings. The cuttings should be softwood.  The best time of year to take a cutting from the smoke bush is during the summer in June, July, or sometimes late August.


The amount of maintenance that your purple smoke bush will need depends on how you are using it. As an ornamental tree, the purple smoke bush will need little pruning other than what is required to remove damaged or diseased foliage.  As an accent or border shrub, the purple smoke bush will likely need a great deal more pruning, more regularly, to control its growth.

Garden Uses

Ideal for containers, beds and borders, and as a privacy barrier.

Quick Facts

  • Family: Anacardiaceae
  • Plant Type: Tree, or shrub
  • Light: Sun, part sun
  • Hardiness Zones: Zones 5 to 8
  • Height: It can reach a height of 15 feet
  • Width: It can reach a width of 15 feet
  • Flower Color: Pink/rose, red/purple
  • Bloom Time: Summer
  • Special Features: Attractive foliage, fall color, drought tolerant, deer resistant
  • Features: Tiny flowers held in large, loose, fuzzy clusters in early summer; fruits are small and inconspicuous, but the stalks of the fruit clusters are covered with hairs and give the plant a ‘smoky’ appearance.

Photo Search

Google – Smoke Bush Photos

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  1. Awesome! We just planted one this year so I shared this with my fella too!

  2. A favourite…I just love that gorgeous foliage!

  3. It is pretty, I don’t have one in my garden although maybe that is better based on what you are saying about allergies.
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