Plant type: Annual
USDA Hardiness Zones: UKN
Height: 72″ to 120″
Exposure: full sun
Bloom Color: Blue, Pink, Purple, Red, White
Bloom Time: Early fall, Late summer, Mid summer
Leaf Color: Green
Growth Rate: fast
Moisture: dry to moist
Soil Condition: Adaptable, Loamy, Sandy, Well drained
Form: Spreading or horizontal, Variable spread
Arbor, Container, Specimen
Not North American native, Wetlands plant, Attractive flowers or blooms
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Question: I just bought a smoke tree and want any information on it, care of it, and when will it bloom. Thank you
Answer: Cotinus coggygria, the Smoketree or Smokebush, often grows as a multistemmed bush and forms a rounded yet open crown. It grows in a wide variety of situations but prefers a sunny spot with average soil or better. According to Michael Dirr’s Manual of Woody Landscape Plants, the ultimate size should be in the 10 to 15 foot range in height and width and it is considered a “medium” grower in terms of speed. Most plants grow more quickly in youth, so it would not be unusual to expect about two feet of growth a year from a young plant if it is well cared for. This plant is native to Southern Europe and to China and Himilaya. The size your plant reaches will depend on your localized growing conditions and on the specific variety you have planted. It will also depend on your pruning — some gardeners will cut these to the ground each year in order to encourage larger and brighter foliage. This pruning will however remove the current year’s flowers. In any case this plant is highly adaptable to soil types and exposures but will do very well in full sun on average soil. It blooms in mid summer and the flowers last for a long time. The fall color is often spectacular, but this can vary between individual plants. Although it is unlikely you have this one, there is also the American Smoketree (Cotinus obovata) which is somewhat similar but grows larger, into the 20 to 30 foot range, and is native to certain areas of the eastyern US and Texas. This tree is known for its spectacular fall color and is somewhat unusual in commerce.
Question: Every year I plant sunflowers and the birds eat the seeds and young sprouts. Is there something I can do to deter the birds?
Answer: Unfortunately, sunflower seeds are a favorite of most birds. You can try erecting bird netting over newly seeded areas, making sure it’s high enough to allow growth and not let the birds poke through it. When the plants are a few inches tall, they should be safe from birds.
Question: What types of pots should I use to grow plants in my greenhouse?
Answer: Any pot with adequate drainage holes can be used for any plant in the greenhouse. If you’re starting seeds, use plastic trays and then transplant the seedlings to 4″ plastic pots. Keep repotting into the next size pot as the plants outgrow their homes.
Keep an eye out for the bright red lily leaf beetles as they emerge from the soil at the base of your sprouting lilies. These voracious pests, which have become a real problem for lily growers in New England in the last few years, overwinter as adult beetles. If you give your lilies a quick check every day as the lilies are coming up, you can easily catch the slow-moving adults. If you’re diligent now and dispatch the adults before they have a chance to mate and lay eggs, you can really reduce damage from the slug-like larvae later on. If you find any clusters of orange eggs on the undersides of the lily leaves, scrape these off as well.
Turn over the compost pile to help material decompose evenly. Try to move material on the outside that hasn’t decomposed in toward the center. Moisten the pile if it’s dry.
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— From the ArcaMax editors