Royal Purple Smokebush

Cotinus coggyria 'Royal Purple'
[KOT-in-us, ko-TY-nus ko-gee-GREE-uh]

Royal Purple Smokebush (aka Royal Purple Smoke Tree) is a large deciduous shrub or tree with dramatic purple foliage and airy, smoke-like seed clusters. The roundish, papery leaves turn a blazing red in autumn. Excellent as a bold accent shrub for large spaces and can be limbed up into a small tree.

This fantastic purple shrub decorates gardens all over Seattle, and I’ve admired them for years before finally deciding to give one a try. I planted a different cultivar, ‘Old Fashioned Smoke Bush,’ two years before this writing I absolutely love, which features sea-green leaves with rusty red new growth. That one seems to be doing well, so I felt a shrub with the same growth habit and leaf shape 30 feet away would add some continuity to the easement area. It also repeats the reddish-purple theme of a few other plants in the backyard (Thundercould plum, Tiny Wine Ninebark, Twombly’s Red Sentinel, and Pixie Japanese Maples), tying the design together.

I’m also looking to provide additional screening from our neighbors as we wait for the Blue Alaska Cedar to grow into a more significant tree. Eventually, this shrub will have to come out as it gets shaded and crowded out by the cedar, but we’ll have quite a few years to enjoy this noble smokebush before that time.

Companion Plants for Royal Purple Smokebush

Ninebark; Coreopsis; Switch Grass, Rudbeckia, Potentilla

      • Light Requirement

      Nursery Tag

      8-10' H x 8-10' W. Deer resistant. Drought tolerant. Forms an upright spreading shrub.

      Gardener's Log

      06/2023: Planted one, 1-gallon on easement west of Blue Alaska cedar. Uprooted a propagated viburnum to make room for it.

      Newly planted Royal Purple Smokebush in June 2023

      Photo taken June 2023

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