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A Little About Smokebush

Smokebush / Smoketree (Cotinus coggygria)

Somewhere in the haze between small tree and large shrub are the Cotinus, grown as much for their leaves as their namesake flowers. Relatives of our native Smoketree, the most popular varieties of these European forms come in colorful shades of lemon-yellow and reddish-purple. Named for their flowering stems (or, more likely, the spent clusters) that give the look of billowing smoky clouds hovering of the tips of the branches, they are just as well-suited to the back of the shrub border for their beautiful foliage. The fast-growing taller varietites ‘Royal Purple’ and ‘Golden Spirit’ are the most common, but new dwarf forms fit well into small gardens and are great for use in the foreground of a shrubby border or up against a foundation. In autumn, brighter hues of scarlet and orange appear. Try mixing them with other foliage colors and textures and use them to liven-up or cool off your summer color palette.

by Miri Talabac, Woody Plant Buyer


Stephanie Fleming was raised at Behnke’s Nurseries in Beltsville. Her Mom, Sonja, was one of Albert & Rose Behnke’s four children. She was weeding from the moment she could walk and hiding as soon as she was old enough to run, so many weeds, so little time. Although she quickly learned how to pull out a perennial and get taken off of weed pulling duty.

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