Smoke Bush Growing Requirements

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The smoke bush (Cotinus coggygria purpureus) is grown as a single-specimen plant or in a group as a hedge or a screen. Growing to 15 feet, it is tolerant of a wide range of growing conditions. The outstanding feature of a smoke bush is its purple flower panicles that create a smoky appearance when seen from a distance. The new growth of a smoke bush turns brilliant colors of purple, yellow or red in the fall.

Appropriate Planting Zone

  • The smoke bush is suitable for planting in U.S. Department of Agriculture Hardiness Zones 4 through 9. The lowest temperature in zone 4 is -30 degrees Fahrenheit. It grows as far north as St. Paul, Minnesota and as far south as Brownsville, Texas.

Light Requirements

  • The smoke bush grows best in a full sun to partial shade location. A full sun location is one that receives at least six hours of direct sunlight each day. A partial shade location is one that receives at least three hours of direct sun each day. The more sun the smoke bush receives the better the bloom production and the fuller the plant. Smoke bushes planted in shade tend to be lanky.

Soil

  • The smoke bush grows best in soils with a pH of 3.7 to 6.8, which means it prefers acidic soil. It will tolerate some soil alkalinity, however. The smoke bush is highly adaptable to different soil textures. It will grow in sand, loamy soils that are part clay and sand, or thick clay. It will tolerate a variety of soil moisture levels, but will grow best in moist, well-drained soil.

Pruning

  • The smoke bush can be trained into a small tree form. This is done by choosing one or more of the strongest trunks and removing all others at ground level. The lower 1/3 of the lateral branches are removed to give the bush a tree shape. If pruning into a screen or hedge, cut to ground level in the fall and allow the bush to regrow from the ground in the spring to create numerous trunks and dense lateral growth.

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