Purple Smoke Bush or Tree?

Carol_SE_PA_6May 14, 2007

Are they a bush (multi-trunks) or tree (single trunk) or does it depend on how you prune it? They aren't easy to find in the SE PA/S NJ area.


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giboosi_alttara(z6 CT)

There are both smoke bushes (Cotinus coggyria and ssp.) and smoke trees (Cotinus Obovatus).

They had purple smoke bushes at Lowes here in CT when I was in last weekend...

    Bookmark   May 14, 2007 at 4:13PM
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laceyvail(6A, WV)

The color of a named cultivar is vastly superior to unnamed seedlings, which are what you are likely to find at Lowes. Try a good mail order nursery--Greers has them, I know.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2007 at 6:53AM
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I live in Bucks county and almost every nursery has them.
They grow very fast. The bushes. Don't let their small size fool you when you buy it.
If they are planted in full sun, they will grow really fast and gorgeous for you.
I have "Grace" that I bought last year from Russels nursery.
It was real small, and now it is at least 4 1/2 foot tall.
"Grace" has fabulose fall color.
Just go to your closest nursery- they have them.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2007 at 12:31AM
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Hi, I've a question about purple smoke bush. I spotted a purple smoke bush on sale at a Walmart but interestingly it isn't as purple as the ones I've seen grown in gardens. Do smokebushes become more purple when planted in full sun? The plant I spotted was located in a shaded area and before I purchase it, I'd like to more about it.

Thanks in advance for any advise.


    Bookmark   June 4, 2007 at 10:59AM
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There are various cultivars of smokebush that have been bred specifically for foliage color. Named forms will have the most intense color and that is typically enhanced by a sunny location - too much shade can wash out the coloring.

Walmart wouldn't be my first choice for a named form (wouldn't be my second or third either, but that's a personal thing) but I guess it's possible they would bring some in. Did it have a proper tag identifying it?

And yes, you can train a young smokebush (Cotinus coggygria) into a tree-like form. It simply takes some careful pruning and some time.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2007 at 11:07AM
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Dear Gardengal,

Yes the plant tag identified it as a royal purple smoke bush - I was expecting a deep burgundy/purple shade. The colour, while somewhat purple looked too washed out. I can only guess but couldn't ascertain till now, why that is. Too much shade. I'm right now in the middle of working a new garden and need to get as many plants at the most economical way as I can. While Walmart isn't my first choice for a garden centre it does carry some plants that are healthy and useful. Anyway, I wasn't planning to use the smokebush as a tree form but as a bush form - to place by a window.

Thanks for the advise. I think I can risk trying out this plant.


    Bookmark   June 4, 2007 at 11:52AM
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Butterfy4U - What does your Grace look like at the moment? I'm south of you & don't see anything yet.

All - When should I expect to see some growth on last year's wood? I'm concerned that the smokebush that I planted in early fal didn't make it through the winter.


    Bookmark   April 21, 2008 at 3:35PM
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Walmart has the same named cultivars as other garden centers. The trick with buying from any large retailer is getting the plant material home soon after its delivery, right off the truck if you can. The longer it sits at the store, the greater chance it will suffer for it IMO.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2008 at 8:10PM
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I pruned down my "Grace" in March for more beautiful foliage this year.
It was about 14 feet tall before I pruned it.
It is about 6 feet tall now.
It has all leafed out in full now, the leaves are all new and it is growing more "branches".
It's gorgeous! Brighter red than a japanese maple tree.
New growth is red on "Grace" and when you severly prune it, all your leaves will be red.
The bush will not smoke out this year, (which is ok by me), but instead will put all of it's energy into bigger, more beautiful leaves instead.
I also have a royal purple. I haven't pruned that one since it is only 5 or 6 feet tall and too young.
"Grace" is very cold hardy. I live in zone 6 and it had no trouble this winter.
My Royal purple made it through fine also. I mulched it real good last fall.
Is your smoke bush starting to grow yet?
You should be seeing something by now.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2008 at 11:56PM
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laceyvail(6A, WV)

"Grace' is a hybrid of C. coggygria and C. obovatus, a tree. It's my understanding that it's not meant to be coppiced, but I could be wrong about that since people coppice many trees for specific effects.

As to the named cultivars of purple leafed C. coggygria (or seedlings for that matter), they are not as hardy as the straight species, and even in zone 6 often experience a lot of die back after the winter, which makes trying for a bush or tree form discouraging. I think they look and do best as cut back shrubs. You won't ever get 'smoke' but you'll have a gorgeous flush of fresh new growth that can easily reach 8 feet in a season.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2008 at 6:14AM
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My "Grace" is now about 12-14 feet tall and at least 6-8 feet wide.
It just keeps growing and growing.
I planted my little tiny "golden spirit next to it.
It seems real happy, but looks so small in comparison.
I also ordered a new "Grace" recently from rarefinds and received it today.
I planted her in her spot tonight and she is gorgeous!
She is about 1 and a half feet tall now, but I hope she likes her spot and grows quickly.
I think "Grace" is the prettiest, fastest growing cultivar.
It also provides alot of very much needed privacy in my yard.
If I had the room I would buy "Velvet Cloak".
SHort on room, you need room for smoke bushes.
Carol, did you ever buy your smoke bush?
Do you like it?

    Bookmark   July 9, 2008 at 1:08AM
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