How to Care for Royal Purple Smokebush

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Royal purple smokebush, also known as smoketree ,or by its scientific name, Cotinus coggygria, is a deciduous, broadleaf shrub. The plant's name derives from its wispy, purple flowers borne in spring and summer that give the appearance of a cloud of smoke surrounding the shrub. In addition to the attractive blossoms, gardeners also value royal purple smokebush for its showy, deep purple foliage that turns reddish-purple in fall. Hardy in zones 5 through 8, smokebush thrives in most temperate areas of the United States with only minimal care and maintenance.

Things You'll Need

  • Mulch
  • Fertilizer
  • Pruning shears
  • Plant royal purple smokebush during spring in a location that receives direct sunlight for six to eight hours per day and consists of well-drained, rocky soil for optimal growth. Space additional royal purple smokebush plants at least 10 feet apart.

  • Apply a 3-inch layer of mulch to the ground surrounding the shrub to improve moisture conservation. Begin the layer at least 3 inches away from the base of the smokebush to minimize the risk of disease and allow air circulation.

  • Water royal purple smokebush once each week during the first two months of growth. Decrease the frequency of watering after the first two months to once every 10 to 14 days, or whenever the top 6 inches of soil are completely dry.

  • Feed three times per year during the first year of growth in March, June and August. Apply 1 tbsp. of balanced 10-10-10 NPK fertilizer for every 1 foot of the shrub's height. Reduce the frequency of fertilization to twice per year thereafter, once in April and once in June.

  • Prune royal purple smokebush immediately after blooming has ended to reduce shock. Use pruning shears to remove any stems and limbs that are damaged, diseased or leggy and discard to help improve the health and appearance of the shrub.

Tips & Warnings

  • Royal purple smokebush tolerates partially shady locations, but foliage production will not be as abundant.
  • Use pine straw or pine chips to mulch royal purple smokebush.

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