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Published: Thursday, October 4, 2012, 12:01 a.m.

Plant pick

  • The dark foliage of the purple smokebush makes a dramatic backdrop in the garden.

    Richie Steffen / Great Plant Picks

    The dark foliage of the purple smokebush makes a dramatic backdrop in the garden.

What: The rich burgundy foliage of the purple smokebush, Cotinus coggygria Royal Purple, makes a stunning effect in the garden.
Its dark, purple-red leaves contrast dramatically with other shrubs and perennials, and purple smokebush is spectacular as a specimen on its own.
Why plant it: Its tiny spring blooms change to lacey, plumelike seed clusters by summer, creating a cloud of "smoke" throughout the plant.
This deciduous shrub can be cut to the ground every two to three years in early spring to create vigorous new shoots that have the largest leaves with the boldest foliage color.
Where: Purple smokebush thrives in full sun to light shade, although the leaves are greener in shade. Plant in a location with well-drained soil and provide occasional watering during dry weather.
Size: It can grow awkwardly as a young plant, but will become fuller as it matures. With minimal pruning it will naturally form a large shrub or small tree over time, appoximately 15-by-15 feet.
Learn more: www.greatplantpicks.org.
Story tags » Gardening

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