Alert! If you have a smoke tree do not call the fire department when it's blooming. The 'smoke' is just tiny delicate flowers and seed pods covered in fuzzy hairs that envelops the plant in a smoky blur - but they are not on fire!
Cotinus may be named for its cool smoky flowers, but they offer much more. Large round leaves of blue-green, dusky purple or gold turn up the heat in autumn, changing to brilliant orange and red before falling off.
Tree forms are great in small gardens and shrubby smoke bushes quickly fill empty background spaces. Add that Cotinus are easy to care for, being drought tolerant and disease resistant and we've got a hot garden addition on our hands!
Large round blue-green leaves turn magnificent yellow, orange and salmon pink in autumn. Small summer flowers in fuZone Zone y clusters resemble smoke. One of the best features for Portland is that Cotinus obovatus is TOLERANT OF CLAY SOIL!! Upright trunk with round canopy.
Grows to 25-30' x 25-30', sun, Zone 4.
Bright yellow and chartreuse leaves turn electrifying shades of coral, orange and red. Small white-pink flowers in smoky plumes in June-July. Like many gold-leafed plants, 'Golden Spirit' can burn in the hottest summer sun, but deep watering before heat waves can really help.
Grows 8' x 6', sun to part shade, Zone 4.
'Grace' is a hybrid:C. obovatus x C. coggygria 'Velvet Cloak'
'Grace' is just lovely. New leaves are pinkish-purple turning green as the season rolls along, so for much of the year she's green with pink tips. Small pink flowers are in huge clusters, up to 12" in summer, and fall color is fire red and purple. One of 'Grace's' parents is a tree, and that DNA is expressed in size, as she gets taller than C. coggygria varieties.
Grows 12' x 12' in 10 years, up to 20' given time, sun-part shade (greener in shade), Zone 5.
If you like the idea of 'Grace' but need something a little smaller, 'Old Fashioned' is a good choice. New leaves are pink-ish purple and turn a soft green, but more green is expressed than is seen in 'Grace'. Small pale flowers in 6" clusters during summer add to the beauty of the foliage, which turns bright pink, red and purple before dropping in autumn.
Grows 6-8' x 5-6', sun-part shade, Zone 5
By far our most popular smoke bush, and for a good reason; inky dark purple leaves! Dark leaves create depth in the garden and 'Royal Purple' Cotinus is one of the best plants for it. Pink summer flowers are followed by large fuzzy purple seed clusters that cover the shrub in purple haze. Fall leaves are bright red and purple.
Grows 15' x 10-12', sun-pt shade, Zone 4.
Read up on some of our favorite shrubs and remember, this is only a smattering of the variety of shrubs we carry all year long! Note: Viewing a Native Plant will take you into our Native Plant section.