Learn which plants thrive in your Hardiness Zone with our new interactive map!

How to Remove Smoke Bush Suckers

By Kathryn Hatter ; Updated September 21, 2017

Smoke bush is an attractive shrub that may stay compact and bushy if a gardener prunes it back yearly or it may grow into a lanky shrub as tall as 12 feet. Some gardeners know the smoke bush shrub as Rhus Cotinus, but whatever you call this unusual shrub, it is sure to add visual interest to any landscape. The smoke bush will spread actively by putting out suckers around the base of the shrub. Control the spread of the smoke bush by pruning back these suckers in early spring.

Inspect the smoke bush in early spring, prior to the beginning of the growing season. Look around the base of the shrub to find suckers that are growing.

Pull up these suckers from the soil, taking care to remove all of the tiny root systems as you pull them up. Suckers are new and tender plants and remove easily from the soil when you pull them as long as you remove them each spring while they are still new.

Use the trowel or the long weeding tool to dig up suckers that have grown into larger, undesired growth. The roots of this type of growth will be larger and you will need to dig them out carefully with the one of these tools to remove them. Take care not to disturb the roots of the smoke bush as you remove these stubborn suckers.


Things You Will Need

  • Gardening gloves
  • Trowel
  • Long weeding tool


  • Consider propagating the smoke bush by rooting the suckers. They may take root if you plant them in small containers and tend them by watering them regularly.
  • You might allow a few of the suckers to grow each year so that the smoke bush spreads out and becomes bushy.

About the Author


Kathryn Hatter is a veteran home-school educator, as well as an accomplished gardener, quilter, crocheter, cook, decorator and digital graphics creator. As a regular contributor to Natural News, many of Hatter's Internet publications focus on natural health and parenting. Hatter has also had publication on home improvement websites such as Redbeacon.