Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Royal Purple Smoke Tree

If there ever was a plant that had status, it would be this tree.  Back in the Midwest, everyone who is anybody apparently has one of these in their yards.  I couldn't figure out why people loved this plant until I saw it in full "smoke" mode and it was really cool looking.  So I went back to Arizona and thought that this tree wouldn't grow here..... 

This picture was taken in March as it was awakening from its winter sleep.
The sun reflects the purple!
Then I saw it for sale at our local nursery and became excited.  I found a place for the Smoke tree and put it in a very sunny spot where it grew. During the winter, it lost its foliage, but in March, the plant came back and grew more.  This plant has beautiful purple leaves that just stand out in our garden.  Our neighbors have noticed this plant as well and seem to have fallen in love with the form and color of this plant.
This image taken from Falling Water Designs

Here is what it looks like in full form and it appears hazy and smoky like the title of the plant suggests.  It does well here in Tucson.

Sunset zones: 2-24.
USDA zones: 5-9.
Heat zones: 9-3.
Mature size:
Height: 15 feet (5 m).
Width: 15 feet (5 m).
Flowering period:
Late spring to early summer.
Flowering attributes:
Panicles of small, insignificant flowers that give the shrub a smoke-like appearance.
Leaf attributes:
Oval, dark purple foliage with red veins and stems. Leaf margins are edged with a thin line of red. Leaves turn scarlet in autumn.
Full sun to partial shade. Purple color is best in full sun.
Moist well-drained soil.
Side dress with compost in fall.
Propagation Methods:
Root softwood cuttings in June for best results.
Pruning Methods:
To keep the plant shrub-like, cut all stems back to within 2-3 buds from the base, annually, in early spring. For growing as a tree, in late winter to early spring, remove only crossing or wayward stems to maintain a healthy frame.
Pests and Diseases:
Verticillium wilt may be a problem. Powdery mildew may be a problem on purple-leaf forms.
Source: http://www.rainyside.com/features/plant_gallery/shrubs/Cotinus_coggygriaRoyalPurple.html

So if you'd like to keep up with Jones, plant one and enjoy the brilliant purple display of color against your green plants.  It does require regular watering once established, and I've placed it near the water line. It loves the sun and I highly recommend trying this plant out.  Until next time.....


  1. These are very cool trees.

  2. I had no idea it would grow there, either! In cooler Abq, same thing - those with money have one in their yard, esp. the midwest wannabes in far NE Abq. But it is fairly tough with some water, nonetheless!


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