How to Grow and Care for a Smoke Tree (Complete Guide)

The smoke tree, scientifically known as Cotinus, is a captivating plant that can be likened to a magician’s secret. Its defining feature is the fluffy, smoke-like plumes that emerge from its branches during the summer.

Smoke Tree Plant Care

Caring for smoke trees is relatively straightforward, making them an attractive choice for gardeners seeking low-maintenance yet visually striking plants.


Light plays a crucial role in the growth and development of smoke trees. Providing them with the right amount of sunlight is essential for their overall health and blooming potential.


Smoke trees thrive in well-drained, loamy soil, which provides a balanced environment for their root system. Loamy soil, rich in organic matter, ensures proper aeration and drainage.


While smoke trees are relatively drought-tolerant once established, consistent and deep watering, especially during their initial years, is crucial for their root development.

Temperature and Humidity

Generally, they thrive in moderate climates with a balanced mix of warmth and coolness. They are well-suited for hardiness zones 5-8, but specific species or varieties might have slightly different preferences.


Smoke trees benefit from a balanced, slow-release fertilizer with equal proportions of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K). Look for a fertilizer labeled with an N-P-K ratio.


The ideal time for pruning smoke trees is in late winter or early spring before the new growth begins. During this time, the tree is dormant, making it less stressful for the plant.


Before the first frost, thoroughly water the smoke tree thoroughly. Moist soil helps the plant better endure winter conditions. Applying a layer of mulch around the tree’s base, about 2 to 3 inches deep, helps insulate the roots.

Types of Smoke Trees

European Smoke Bush Cotinus coggygria, commonly known as the European Smoke Bush or Eurasian Smoke Tree, is a popular choice among garden enthusiasts.

American Smoke tree

Cotinus obovatus, known as the American Smoketree, is native to the southeastern United States. It’s distinguishable by its elongated leaves and tolerance for various growing conditions.

Royal Purple Smoke Tree

Cotinus Royal Purple’ is a popular cultivar of the smoke tree known for its stunning deep purple foliage. This cultivar is prized for its intense color, which adds a dramatic element to any garden.

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