May Plant of the Month – Velvet Cloak Smokebush (Cotinus coggygria ‘Velvet Cloak’
BOTANICAL NAME Cotinus coggygria ‘Velvet Cloak’
COMMON NAME Velvet Cloak Smokebush
DESCRIPTION ‘Velvet Cloak’ is a purple-leaved, loose-spreading, multi-stemmed shrub that typically grows 10-15’ tall and as wide, however it can easily be kept more compact through annual pruning. Smoketree gets its common name not from the tiny, insignificant, yellowish flowers which appear in branching, 6-8” long, terminal panicles in spring, but from the billowy hairs which turn a smoky pink to purplish pink in summer, thus covering the tree with fluffy, hazy, smoke-like puffs. Deep purple leaves retain their color throughout the growing season, and turn an attractive orange-red in fall.
HEIGHT 10 feet
WIDTH 10 feet
ZONES 4 to 8
EXPOSURE Full Sun to partial shade
FLOWER COLOR Yellow
BLOOM SEASON Summer
COMPANION PLANTS Pervovskia, Geranium, Phlox, Festuca, Helictotrichon, Rosa ‘Champlain’
GROWING AND MAINTENANCE TIPS Plant in well-drained fertile soils. Follow regular watering pattern to establish. If bloom is not a concern, stems may be cut back hard in early spring each year to a framework to induce growth of vigorous new shoots with slightly larger than normal leaves. Such hard annual pruning will control size and accentuate the purple foliage and excellent fall color, but most likely at the expense of profuse flowering.