© RHS / Graham Titchmarsh

Introducing...

Cotinus

Common name: smoke bush

Grown for their vibrant foliage from spring to autumn, these large, eye-catching and easy-to-grow shrubs also produce clouds of tiny flowers in summer, to earn their name smoke bush. They add colour to shrub borders, create a bold backdrop for mixed plantings and make a dramatic specimen in a lawn.

Looks

These shrubs are prized for their richly coloured foliage, especially the purple or acid-green cultivars. The leaves are particularly vibrant in spring, and in autumn before they fall, turning shades of red and orange. Masses of tiny pinkish flowers like clouds of smoke (hence the common name, smoke bush) appear in summer. Over time they can grow quite large, but can be kept to a manageable size by annual pruning.

Likes

Grow in fertile, well-draining soil in sun or light shade. Purple-leaved plants will produce the best leaf colour in full sun.

Dislikes

Cotinus can struggle both in very poor, dry soil and heavy waterlogged soil. In deep shade, leaf colour and flowering will be poor.
 

Did you know?

For the best leaf display, and to keep plants compact, stems can be cut back hard to a low framework in late winter or early spring – see our guide to pruning for larger leaves for full details.

Growing guide

Cotinus we recommend

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Useful advice

Buying: garden centre plants

Buying: garden centre plants

Buying: trees and shrubs

Buying: trees and shrubs

Plants for under trees

Plants for under trees

Pruning for colourful stems or large foliage

Pruning for colourful stems or large foliage

Shrubs: pruning summer- or autumn-flowering

Shrubs: pruning summer- or autumn-flowering

Woody waste: shredding and composting

Woody waste: shredding and composting

Other plants you may like

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