The smoke bush, also known as purple smoke bush, royal purple smoke bush, and Cotinus coggygria, is an invasive deciduous shrub that offers year-round visual interest but can be problematic for allergy sufferers. Grown strategically and carefully maintained, the purple smoke bush can add lovely color and visual appeal to a garden setting. Left untended in full sunlight, the purple smoke bush will probably attempt a hostile takeover of your garden. The purple smoke bush gets its name from the profusion of purple blossoms it sends forth each summer, resembling nothing so much as "smoke" rising from the very topmost branches of the plant. The purple smoke bush is a great accent planting, specimen planting or border bush, and can also be used as a small ornamental tree. Learn more about how to grow and care for the smoke bush from gardening experts.
There are different varietals of purple smoke bush, so it is always wise to consult the exact growing preferences of the specific varietal being installed, but purple smoke bush in general prefers full sunlight and can tolerate a variety of soil conditions. However, if the option exists, is preference is for a mildly acidic to alkaline soil pH with some sand, clay, or loam added in to the soil. Purple smoke bush can eventually reach 15 feet in height and equal width, but it is a slow grower, so allowing for adequate mature space at installation can reduce the need for garden redesign as purple smoke bush matures.
Before planting purple smoke bush, enrich the soil with organic matter and some sand, loam, or clay matter, remove any rocks and break up soil clumps, and ensure soil has adequate drainage. Dig a hole as deep as the root ball and twice as wide and install the new root ball, backfilling with the soil mixture around it. When the hole is completely filled, water thoroughly and add a layer of protective mulching up to but not quite touching the young trunk of the bush. This will assist with controlling weeds and pests and can help to lock in moisture.
The amount of maintenance that purple smoke bush will need depends on how it is used. 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. The purple smoke bush will appreciate regular watering as it grows, but it is important not to over water. The best rule of thumb is to water when rainfall is less than one inch weekly.
The purple smoke bush is deer resistant, but can be susceptible to leaf roller, scabs, verticulum wilt, stem canker, and leaf miner. Commercial pesticide sprays combined with removal of affected foliage is the best course of action should fungal or pest infestation occur.