How to Plant & Grow


Cotinus, also known as ‘Smoke Bush’, is a vibrant shrub that can add colour and interest to the garden. They’ll produce plumes of small pinkish flowers in summer, which is how they have gotten their name ‘smoke bush’.   
Wondering how to care for your new cotinus shrub or an older established plant? Everything you need to keep your plant thriving can be found in this guide.  

What We've Included

When to Plant  |  How to Plant  |  Where to Plant  |  When to Water  |  Should I feed my Cotinus?  |  How to Mulch  |  How to Propagate  |  Common Issues  |  Cotinus FAQs  |  Inspiration

When to Plant Cotinus

Cotinus shrubs can be planted in autumn to early spring, as long as the ground isn’t frozen or waterlogged. You can also plant established plants in pots at any time throughout their growing season, as long as it’s not too hot outside.  

How to Plant Cotinus

Planting Pot-Grown Plants

Our pot-grown plants are incredibly easy to plant and grow. Whether you’re growing them directly outside into the border or into a container, our pot-grown plants are a breeze from the moment they arrive.        
- Dig a hole in the border that’s big enough to house the root system. If planting in pots, fill a large pot halfway with potting soil and then make a well in the middle. Do this until the top of the soil from the plant is just below the top of the pot.        
- Wedge in the plant by adding soil to the gaps in the hole, firming down the surface to ensure it’s in place.        
- Water well and you’re done!      

Planting Root Balls
Root balls to beginners might sound intimidating but are easy. To put them simply, they’re a budget-friendly plant that’s lifted from the ground when it’s dormant.  
Here’s how to plant root balls:          
- Dig a hole in the border that’s big enough to house the root system, preferably twice or thrice its size.          
- Ensure the root ball is just below the soil.     
- Water well once planted.         

Where to Plant Cotinus

Plant cotinus somewhere sunny and sheltered away from harsh winds.   
These shrubs can be grown in a border, front mid or back, and even in a large container. However, they can grow quite large over time, so if you prefer to keep them more compact then prune them regularly.  

When to Water Cotinus

Water cotinus plants regularly for its first two years. Once it has established, it will cope without extra watering (except in periods of drought or particularly warm and dry spells). Any varieties grown in a container will need regular watering throughout summer, regardless of their age, as they will drain quickly.  

Should I Feed My Cotinus?

You don’t really need to feed your cotinus, as it will pull nutrients from the soil. However, if you prefer to, then you can apply a general fertiliser in late winter. Pot-grown plants will need regular feeding from early spring to late summer.  

How to Mulch a Cotinus

We always recommend adding a healthy layer of mulch around the base of a shrub. This can be a mixture of well-rotted compost or manure. Add the compost in late winter after your fertiliser (if you choose to use a fertiliser). This will help the soil retain moisture throughout spring and into summer. Leave a ring around the stem untouched by your mulch layer, as it can cause rotting.  

How to Propagate Cotinus 

You can propagate a cotinus bush by taking softwood cuttings throughout the summer. Cut a shoot just above a leaf, about 10cm long. Cut any leaves back by half, to stop the plant from losing water. Pop the cutting into compost, ensuring any leaves are above the compost level. Put a clear bag around the pot, holding it in place with a rubber band or twine. Position out of direct sunlight, and somewhere warm. Plant your new plant outdoors once all danger of frost has passed.  

Common Issues

Cotinus shrubs aren’t particularly susceptible to pests and diseases. However, they can be bothered by a fungal disease called ‘verticillium wilt’. As it is borne in the soil, it’s hard to treat, and can only be treated by removing the plant and throwing it away to stop the spread.  

Cotinus FAQs 

Q: When to prune cotinus 
A: To keep your cotinus compact, stems can be cut hard in late winter to early spring.  


Q: Is cotinus evergreen? 
A: Most varieties of cotinus are deciduous, meaning they lose their leaves over winter.  

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