Growing Smoke Tree

Be the envy of neighbors with this mystical beauty.
Related To:
Smoke Tree

Smoke Tree

Smoke tree starts out with grayish-pink leaves in early spring, then blooms leaving dark burgundy foliage.

Smoke tree starts out with grayish-pink leaves in early spring, then blooms leaving dark burgundy foliage.

Plenty of trees go through a complete color transformation from spring through fall—consider Japanese maples, crape myrtles and ginkgos, to name a few. But perhaps no other tree does it as magically as the smoke tree.

If you’re in the market for something unique to add to your landscape, this tree’s the ticket. Smoke tree, Cotinus coggygria, is a small deciduous tree—some even call it smoke bush—that not only does a 360 on the color wheel throughout the seasons, but also offers a mystical aura, thanks to its unusual flower puffs that can resemble clouds of smoke.

The oval leaves of smoke tree, which grows 10 to 25 feet tall, emerge in late spring as a grayish-purple color before sending up clusters of fluffy, frothy pinkish-gray blooms. As the foliage turns a deep shade of burgundy, the contrast with the flowers makes the smoke-like clouds even more pronounced.

By midsummer, the leaves begin to lose their dramatic color, taking on more of a green hue for several months, before turning a spectacular orange-red in fall.

For these qualities, the multi-trunked smoke tree makes a great garden specimen as well as a nice accent for container plantings. If given full sun and well-drained soil, it’s also a reliable performer, offering drought- and deer resistance. Smoke tree encounters no serious disease or insect problems. 

Growers have introduced a number of varieties over the years. Consider:

  • ‘Royal Purple’—Red-purple foliage that turns scarlet in fall.
  • ‘Grace’—Dark burgundy-purple foliage that becomes orange-red in autumn.
  • ‘Pink Champagne’—Unusual green foliage edged in pink, which turns red and orange in fall.
  • ‘Nordine’—Bronze leaves that become orange-red in autumn.
Keep Reading

Next Up

Growing Dwarf Fruit Trees

Turn your backyard into a miniature orchard—these gorgeous fruit trees are perfect for pots.

Growing Fruit Trees Indoors

Growing dwarf fruit trees indoors can add a lively touch of freshness to your indoor setting.

Growing a Weeping Cherry Tree

Weeping cherries shout a boldly colorful statement in spring.

Growing Fruit Trees in Containers

Master gardener Chris Dawson shares these tips for growing fruit trees in pots.

Olive Tree Growing Tips

Tips for the best varieties of olive trees to plant if you are thinking of starting your own grove.

Guide to Growing Plum Trees

Discover how to grow delicious and juicy plums with this simple planting and maintenance guide. 

Main Squeeze: Growing Citrus Trees

Pucker up! Grow fresh citrus fruits in your backyard with these tips.

Grow an Olive Tree

Grow an olive tree and let it take summer vacations outdoors. If your climate is warm, you can even plant it in your garden.

Grow a Persimmon Tree

Easy to grow and maintain, persimmon trees are cold hardy and bear beautiful fruit in the fall.