How to Care for Royal Purple Smoke Bush


The royal purple smoke bush (Cotinus coggygria 'Royal Purple') gets its name from the tiny flowers that appear in spring and early summer, giving the impression of a cloud of smoke. The leaves of this tree change color throughout the seasons, beginning with a maroon shade that turns almost black by late summer, then crimson in fall. The royal purple smoke bush grows to 15 feet tall and is hardy in USDA zones 5 to 9.

Step 1

Choose an area of your yard or garden that receives full to partial sun and has fast draining, fertile soil. While the royal purple smoke bush can grow in part shade, its color will be more prominent if planted in full sun.

Step 2

Dig a hole that is two times the diameter and the same depth as the container that the royal purple smoke bush is growing in.

Step 3

Add 3 to 4 inches of organic compost to the planting hole. Use your fingers to loosen the bush's roots and place it into the planting hole. Replace the loose soil and pat down firmly.

Step 4

Water until the soil is thoroughly saturated, and cover with a 2-inch layer of mulch.

Step 5

Continue to water whenever there is not enough rainfall to keep the top inch of soil moist.

Step 6

Remove dead or damaged branches regularly. Prune the smoke bush in late winter or early spring to remove any branches that are crossing or giving the bush an unattractive appearance.

Step 7

Side-dress with another 2 to 3 inches of organic compost in fall. This will add an extra boost of nutrients to keep the bush healthy during the cold winter months.

Step 8

Examine regularly for signs of fungal disease. This variety of smoke bush is most often affected by powdery mildew, which makes the leaves appear to be covered in a fine powder. If you notice any signs of disease, treat promptly with a fungicide.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • Organic compost
  • Mulch
  • Pruning shears


  • Virginia Cooperative Extension: Smoke bush, Smoke tree
  • Rainy Side Gardeners: Cotinus coggygria 'Royal Purple'
  • University of Florida Extension: Cotinus coggygria 'Royal Purple'
Keywords: smoke bush, smoke tree, purple smoke bush, purple smoke tree, royal purple, smoke bush care

About this Author

Annita Lawson has been working as a freelance writer since 2004. Her work has been published in various web and print outlets, including The Dabbling Mum, A Virtuous Woman, and Pediatrics for Parents. Lawson is pursuing an Associate of Arts degree at Southeast Kentucky Community College. She enjoys sharing all that she has learned about parenting, healthy eating and living a frugal lifestyle.