Common name: Smoke Bush

Cotinus is deciduous shrub whos origin extends from Eastern Europe to China.

The name Cotinus comes from the Greek for wild olive, kotinus.

They are suited to most types of soils and will tolerate partial shade, although the more sunshine the shrub gets the better the leaf colouring.

To get the nicest colour and the best smokey plumes place the shrub in a warm sunny spot.

Cotinus can grow into a 5m high plant with a similar spread if left to its own resources, however annual pruning can restrain them to a more desired size.

The large panicles of flowers appear in summer and the leaves become much redder in Autumn.

Autumn is also the time of the year when the flowerheads take on the appearance of being covered in smoke, it is this apearance that accounts for it's common name, The Smoke bush.

In Bud
In Flower
Autumnal colour

Cotinus should be pruned in late winter or early spring when still dormant to keep it in good shape.

Mature shrubs will tolerate being cut back hard or coppiced to keep it in check, but this may produce more leaf growth at the expense of flower numbers.

Another method of pruning to consider is to clip it into a regular topiary shape.


To propagate them take young softwood cuttings in spring, or layer low growing young stems.

Softwood cuttings should be potted up in pots / trays of compost and placed in a propagator until rooted (avoid direct sunlight)

Plants can also be layered, this is done by pegging down a young stem in autumn with staple or wire hoop.

This should produce roots by the following summer, whren the stem can then be severed and potted up or planted out in autumn.

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