Cotinus size and siting

hemnancy(z8 PNW)July 22, 2012

I was hoping to plant a Cotinus in the strip along our driveway but there is not a lot of space between plants there until the bottom which gets a lot of water in spring run-off time. Can they be held to a narrow size to fit in with other plants or can I plant one on a mound toward the bottom to improve the drainage? I looked at articles on coppicing, and it sounded good but I'm afraid of making a really knobby base that would look funny. Any ideas?

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I have had one in the middle of a mounded mixed bed for a few years surrounded by perennials, so I can't see the base and don't recall it looking bad.

I've cut out the tallest branch to the base in early spring because I'm growing it for the color of the new growth. It's not very wide.

I might let it grow a bit taller so I can see more of it now that the others have matured more. Euphorbia Rudolph is now growing large enough to remove a few shoots next spring. I've expanded this bed a few times, so now to access the smoke bush I have to step in the bed.

I think it prefers lean soil with moderate moisture in full sun to part shade. I keep the bed mulched with homemade compost topped with a few wood chips. The heavier feeders get composted manure then wood chips. Deer don't eat it.


    Bookmark   July 22, 2012 at 12:22PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Yes: kept that small, among all those herbaceous plants it looks lost - as though overwhelmed by weeds. There isn't enough of it to produce much of an effect.

'Royal Purple' can sometimes be quite slow to develop, you might try that one. If you coppice smoke bushes you get no smoke, and the habit is sprouting, even snaking and floppy instead of roundish and bushy. Well-drained soil on the lean side is natural for them, repeatedly bringing in organic matter and putting it around them on a moist soil might result in dieback from Verticillium - I definitely would not plant one where it can sometimes be wet.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2012 at 2:03PM
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botann(z8 SEof Seattle)

I have one and should have more, given the sunny, dry places in my garden where it would be appropriate. This one is not sited in the best of places, and I will probably move it when it's dormant. Moving things around is part of the joy of gardening.
In the meantime I'm having fun with it in regards to pruning. I prune it close at the bottom, not so close halfway up, and no pruning this year at the top. It's in a tight spot and I have few choices.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2012 at 12:11PM
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hemnancy(z8 PNW)

Thanks for the photos, they don't make Cotinus look like it will become a 10-15' wide monster. I decided to put it on the top of a bank on the other side of the driveway instead, near some variegated Silverberries that will set off the color. I'm glad to finally get one, they look stunning in the photos.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2012 at 6:22PM
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botann(z8 SEof Seattle)

Unpruned it will easily get 10 to 15 ft. wide. I've been hacking mine back for years...and in the process learning how and when to prune it.
The bottom picture is an old one.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2012 at 11:55PM
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Top of a bank is a good site. A smokebush on a bank in this neighborhood was 20x20 until pruned to 12x15 two years ago.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2012 at 12:12AM
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