Smoke Bush Growing Requirements

The smokebush (Cotinus coggygria), also called the smoketree, is a 15- to 20-foot large shrub or small tree. This deciduous member of the sumac family has leaves of green, yellow or purple that turn vibrant red, purple, orange or yellow in the fall, depending on the cultivar. The smokebush's flowers are fairly inconspicuous. But surrounding the flowers are clusters of fine, hairy filaments, which give the shrub its name. The smokebush is a very easy shrub to grow.

Location and Sun

Smokebush thrives in USDA Hardiness Zones 4 to 9. It prefers full sun, and it can stand partial shade. If you plant your smokebush in heavier shade, it will be lanky and not bloom well.

Soil and Nutrients

Smokebush is not picky about its soil. It will grow in sandy, loamy or clay conditions. Any soil with a pH of 3.7 to 6.8, which is acidic, will work. If your soil is more alkaline, it can be amended with aluminum sulfate or dolomitic lime to lower the pH. A 10-10-10 all-purpose fertilizer applied three times during the spring and summer is adequate food for the smokebush.


Watering should be done weekly during the first few months after planting, to give the smokebush time to become established. After that, the soil should be allowed to dry slightly between waterings. Smokebush is fairly drought tolerant. To keep the smokebush's foliage dry and more resistant to disease, waterings should be done at the soil level.

Keywords: smokebush requirements, growing smokebush, smoketree culture

About this Author

Aileen Clarkson has been an award-winning editor and reporter for more than 20 years, earning three awards from the Society of Professional Journalists. She has worked for several newspapers, including "The Washington Post" and "The Charlotte Observer." Clarkson earned a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from the University of Florida.