How to Prune a Smoke Tree


When it comes to taking care of a smoking tree, practises such as pruning and shaping are not required but may provide significant benefits. According to the North Carolina State University Cooperative Extension, smoke trees, also known as Cotinus coggygria, thrive in the plant hardiness zones 4a to 9a recommended by the United States Department of Agriculture. These zones are ideal for growing smoke trees because their vibrant foliage and dainty flowers add visual interest to landscaping for the majority of the year.

These low-maintenance deciduous shrubs react extremely well to pruning, regardless of whether it is done to increase their naturally rounded growth habit, boost their flowering, or mould them into a form similar to a tree. It is not difficult to prune smoke trees; nevertheless, this will result in a reduction in flower production the next year. This is due to the fact that smoke trees blossom on old wood.

Smoke Tree Pruning Basics

Smoke trees are only ever somewhat unwell, but when they do become sick, it’s usually from a fungal or bacterial infection like leaf spot or rust. Smoke trees are quite hardy. Because one of the ways in which these illnesses are passed from plant to plant is via the use of dull and unclean pruning shears, it is essential to keep sharp and hygienic pruning tools while trimming these shrubs. Each year, the blades should be sharpened, and you should consider replacing them totally if they become severely worn from usage. After each time you use them, wash your pruning tools in hot water to get rid of any old plant debris that might potentially transmit fungus or germs. To keep the blades from rusting, dry them with a paper towel.

The University of Florida IFAS Gardening Solutions suggests disinfecting pruning tools by immersing the blades in a bleach solution with a concentration of 10 percent for half an hour. This will eliminate any potentially dangerous germs. To avoid rust and corrosion, the bleach solution should be rinsed off, the blades should be wiped off with paper towels, and a lubricating spray should be sprayed on them. When trimming smoke trees, it is important to protect your skin by wearing gloves since the stems and leaves of the tree produce a sap that may irritate some people’s skin.

Cutting Back Smoke Trees

The natural form of smoke trees may be improved by cutting back their branches, however this will cause them to blossom one year later. Because this species only blossoms on wood that is at least one year old, pruning it will result in the loss of the flower buds that are responsible for producing flowers in the next year.

If you want to prune smoke trees without removing all of their buds, one strategy is to prune the shrub by half. This will ensure that there is still some mature wood at the ends of the branches, which is ideal for flower formation. According to an article published in Fine Gardening, smoke trees may have their height reduced by one half each year. However, at some point in the future, the shrub will need having its full height reduced in order to remedy the legginess and decreased blooming that happens in older shrubs.

It is recommended by the UC Master Gardener Program of Sonoma County that smoking trees be pruned in the late winter or early spring, prior to the formation of buds. By using pruning shears that are strong and spotless, cut the whole bush so that it is just 6 to 12 inches above the earth. Cut the stem right above one of the little black growth nodes that are spaced evenly throughout its length. Nodes that are oriented outward will create stems that stretch outward, but nodes that are oriented inward will direct development into the centre of the shrub, producing an appearance that is more dense.

Shaping Smoke Trees

Even though smoke trees are more accurately described as huge shrubs, many gardeners choose to prune and shape them into little trees. It is not difficult to shape smoke tree bushes into the form of trees via the process of pruning, but the shrubs need to be pruned and maintained on a regular basis to retain their form.

Before commencing the process of removing the lower branches of a smoke tree shrub, it is recommended by the UC Master Gardeners Program of Sonoma County to wait until the shrub has been planted in the ground for at least a couple of years. According to the research conducted by the Division of Agriculture at the University of Arkansas, the most optimal time of year for this kind of pruning is early spring.

Pick one to three of the most robust stems to serve as the tree’s trunks, then cut the rest of the stems off at the base. To obtain the canopy height you wish, start by snipping away all of the lower growth that can be found along the selected trunks. Throughout the course of the year, new growth will emerge along the main stems of the shrub. This new growth should be pruned back every few weeks in order to preserve the shrub’s tree-like look. Remove the stems from the plant by cutting them off as near to the base as you can go without harming the main stalks.

Towels made of paper!!-!!!!-!! a bleach solution of 10% concentration

Spray for lubricating surfaces

Shears used for pruning