Asked on Jul 15, 2014

Leggy Smoke Bush

by 169756
I fell in love with the Smoke Bush this year so put two in my rock garden. I put them in in May and they are getting very leggy. One more than the other. When I put them in, one had a bit of a bloom on it. Or at least I think it was a smoke bloom. Not much. Looking online, I'm a little confused on when their "smoke" should bloom. I need to prune them but if they will still bloom this season, don't want to prune them now. Anyone familiar with bloom time? BTW I intend to keep them in bush form rather than large trees.
  15 answers
  • Smoketrees will smoke in June but usually not until they are older and mature. If the bush is getting leggy it is usually because of the soil and/or watering or the roots have some sort of issue. Smoketrees are actually a bush and do not like to be pruned so no worries on keeping it a bush and not a tree. this fall, when it is going to rain, I would pull it back up and inspect the roots to make sure they are loose and spread and no problems then get some composted horse manure or good compost/manure at the store and put it in the hole with it. Cultivars of the smoketree like fertile soil. Keep it watered too since it is a new plant. Hope this helps. Happy gardening!
  • 169756 169756 on Jul 15, 2014
    Thanks very much.
  • Trish A Comey Trish A Comey on Jul 16, 2014
    I live in Delaware County,PA - my smoke tree has "smoked" with a few still on the branches. That should be it for this year. I trim the highest branches every year and this keeps it from looking leggy. I use the general rule of not cutting more than 1/3 at a time. Check with a local nursery for advise. Good luck.
  • Douglas Hunt Douglas Hunt on Jul 16, 2014
    If you are going to keep the smoke tree as a bush (it will still be a large bush), Virginia Tech suggests pruning it almost to the ground for the first two seasons to develop a dense habit. See:
  • 169756 169756 on Jul 16, 2014
    Thanks Douglas. But can't seem to open this. Do I prune now?
    • Douglas Hunt Douglas Hunt on Jul 16, 2014
      @Kathleen No, you would prune in early spring, just before it pushes out new growth. You may sacrifice the "smoke" for a couple of years, but you will have more of the kind of plant you want in the long run.
  • 169756 169756 on Jul 16, 2014
    Ok. Hate to give up the smoke but the foliage is so beautiful that really makes up for it. BTW, I searched locally for the gorgeous green variety which is what I originally wanted but couldn't find it anywhere but online and didn't want to go that route. The purple is very nice though and goes well with my little patio peach.
  • Cherylie Cherylie on Jul 17, 2014
    I have one which is enormous. It's been in for a decade or so. The one time I trimmed it, the regrowth was astounding. I've been afraid to touch it ever since, but it's long and lanky and the habit is unattractive. If I trim after bloom (now) can I bring it back to more of a bush?
    • See 2 previous
    • Cherylie Cherylie on Jul 18, 2014
      @HeidiZG That's EXACTLY what I did the first year I tried to reign them in! I haven't bothered with pruning them - we have an unmanicured yard, so they're an interesting addition.
  • Diane Gatzke Diane Gatzke on Jul 17, 2014
    Kathleen, I live in North Texas, and our smoke tree blooms in late April/early May. It has a single trunk, and is not leggy at all.....very tall, dense, and bushy. Blooms like a champ! It's been in the ground for three years. I saw some in Ireland that were enormous. They probably like the climate better there. :D
  • Cherylie Cherylie on Jul 17, 2014
    @Douglas Hunt Thank you!
  • Dorothy Collett Dorothy Collett on Jul 17, 2014
    Smoke bushes are great for floral arranging. Once you have it established cut a few branches when needed.
  • 169756 169756 on Jul 17, 2014
    Thanks, what a great idea.
  • 169756 169756 on Jul 17, 2014
    Thanks, that's good to know. Hopefully ours will do the same.
  • Debi McCoy Debi McCoy on Aug 20, 2014
    I trim mine in both the spring and fall. Never had a problem.
  • 169756 169756 on Aug 20, 2014
    Good to know. I did trim the very tallest stems. I will trim them again at the end of the season. Thanks very much.
  • 4002639 4002639 on Sep 06, 2018

    How are your Smoke Plants doing? I put mine in right after yours and it taller than I am (5`) but blooms every year.