University of Maryland Extension

Purple Smokebush ‘Royal Purple’

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Text by Ellen Nibali. Photo by Virginia Williams

Cotinus coggygria ‘Royal Purple’

Purple-pink haze lights up in your garden when smokebush comes into bloom, especially when backlit by the sun.  The flower itself is unspectacular; it’s the tiny pinkish hairs on the big 6-8 inch flowerheads that capture light for a long period June to August.  Smokebush becomes a large shrub 10-15’. Somewhat irregular, it works well as a focus in a bed or enmass rather than a single specimen, though that can be striking, too.  Highly adaptable to soils, it prefers good drainage in full sun and is almost disease and pest free. Optional annual pruning encourages new shoots, which have the richest purple color. Fall color can be good. The American native smokebush, Cotinus obovatus, has less showy “smoke”, but its slightly blue-green leaves are a knock-out in fall.

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