The Lilla Smoke Bush (Cotinus Coggygria ‘Lilla’) Care Guide


The Lilla Smoke Bush, otherwise known as the Cotinus Coggygria ‘Lilla’ or Rock Cotoneaster, Wall Spray, Rock Spray, Wall Cotoneaster, is a rather well known shrub plant by gardening enthusiasts around the world.

Best known for its low maintenance and moderate growth, this shrub will likely liven up your house (or garden) with its purple colored leaves. But, only if you learn how to take proper care of it for it to thrive.

Fortunately, taking care of your Lilla Smoke Bush is not too difficult – as long as you follow our guidelines in this Lilla Smoke Bush Care Guide. Now let’s get started.

The fundamental caring guidelines for every Lilla Smoke Bush can be summed up into the following:

  • Water: The Lilla Smoke Bush needs water regularly to maintain evenly moist soil.
  • Light: Keep your Cotinus Coggygria ‘Lilla’ in an environment where it can receive partial to full sun on a daily basis. 
  • Soil: Make sure to keep the Lilla Smoke Bush in soil with well-draining properties, so ideally, one that is made of clay, loam, chalk, and sand.

And that’s practically it! If you keep these three factors in check, your Lilla Smoke Bush will likely have all it needs for it to survive and even thrive.

Cotinus coggygria 'Lilla' plants

Description and Botanical Aspects

In botanical terms, the Lilla Smoke Bush belongs to the Rosaceae family, the genus Cotoneaster and the species Horizontalis, hence its scientific (or botanical) name Cotinus Coggygria ‘Lilla’ (koh-TY-nus kog-GY-gree-uh).

As with other Cotoneaster’s, the Lilla Smoke Bush is an evergreen plant, which means it will be present year round in your garden.

NameLilla Smoke Bush (Cotinus Coggygria ‘Lilla’)
WateringEvery 7-10 days
Hardiness Zones4-9 (USDA)
SoilGood drainage and moist properties
LightLittle to partial shade
PruningMinimal (every winter)

Growing Region

The Lilla Smoke Bush is a plant native to the Central & Southern China and Taiwan.

You might be wondering why your Lilla Smoke Bush’s native region is important. Well, if you know where your plant originally came from, you’ll know which environment conditions it prefers, and with it, knowledge on how to replicate it at home.

With this in mind, the Cotinus Coggygria ‘Lilla’ will be most used to the heat zones in the 3 – 7 region, as the plant hardiness level falls between 5b, 5a, 6b, 6a, 7b, 7a and the ideal climate zone is between 2, 2B, 3, 3A, 3B, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, A3.

Growth and Size

In terms of size and growth, the Lilla Smoke Bush is a relatively moderate grower, which makes things somewhat easy for any plant enthusiast.

But what exactly does this mean for your Lilla Smoke Bush? How large a pot should you consider, how tall, how wide can it get? Let’s jump in…

How big does a Lilla Smoke Bush get?

The Cotinus Coggygria ‘Lilla’ can grow up to 2′ – 3′ (60cm – 90cm) tall and 6′ – 8′ (180cm – 240cm) wide. 

These dimensions make the Lilla Smoke Bush a relatively large shrub compared to others, so it’s best to keep this fact in mind since it will affect where you want to keep yours at home.

Also, expect it to grow in a wonderful rounded shape, which is something worthwhile to remember when making your garden landscape plans.

This is why experts recommend keeping an area of approximately 72″ – 96″ (180cm – 240cm) free so the Lilla Smoke Bush can spread to its best extent.

Water

In terms of watering, the Lilla Smoke Bush is a fairly complicated plant to take care of. This is mostly because it has a not so straightforward watering schedule and somewhat regular watering needs. Specifically, most experts agree that the Cotinus Coggygria ‘Lilla’ needs water regularly to maintain evenly moist soil. Which is why it is considered a plant with relatively low to average needs in terms of water. 

Cotinus coggygria 'Lilla' care

Watering

As a rule of thumb, you should remember to keep your Lilla Smoke Bush in soil with well-draining characteristics, as these will guarantee the right conditions for your plant to grow and thrive. 

When you consider this, this is why you should aim to choose soil that has good drainage, and moist properties to keep the right moisture levels at all times. 

In our experience, the famous ‘thumb’ or ‘finger’ test is what works best for the Lilla Smoke Bush since with it, you will be able to give it the right amount of water, every time – regardless of the environment or placement where you do decide to keep it.

Soil Mix

As mentioned earlier, the Lilla Smoke Bush prefers to have soil with good drainage, and moist properties at all times, reason why you need to make the soil mix out of clay, loam, chalk, and sand.

This is why most experts agree that the Lilla Smoke Bush requires soil with clay, loam (silt), and sand, which will give you the right conditions it needs.

In addition to this, expert gardeners recommend having preferably alkaline, acid or neutral soil.

Light and Exposure

In terms of light & exposure, the Lilla Smoke Bush requires partial to full sun in order for it to thrive under the right conditions. 

Most experts agree that this shrub will do well as long as you keep it in partial to full sun, and it will be able to grow properly.

Specifically, we recommend that you place your Cotinus Coggygria ‘Lilla’ in little to partial shade (only 2-6 hours of direct sunlight a day), to full and direct sun (more 6 hours of direct sunlight per day).

Pruning

The best time to prune your Smoke Bush Plant is in late winter, before any new growth begins. Simply cut 6 to 8 inches off of the tips of the plant’s branches. This will encourage new growth and prevent the plant from becoming too large. Smoke Bush Plants can also be pruned back quite severely if necessary and will still rebound beautifully. When pruning, be sure to use sharp, clean pruning shears to avoid damaging the plant.

Season

Being an evergreen plant, the Lilla Smoke Bush will be present year round in your garden.

But, you can expect it to have its ‘prime-time’ during the spring (late), the summer (early, mid, late), and during the fall.

Flowers

You can expect your Lilla Smoke Bush to flower around the spring months from April to June (spring).

In particular, this shrub is well known for its flowers for cutting and showy flowers around the plant enthusiast community.

The Lilla Smoke Bush produces some beautiful pink, or pink and white flowers around this time of year.

Foliage

The leaves from the Lilla Smoke Bush have a beautiful purple color during most of the year.

In particular, they have a simple arrangement with a alternate organization in its leaves.

You can expect the leaves from your Cotinus Coggygria ‘Lilla’ to be around (< 1 inch) in size.

Cotinus coggygria 'Lilla' leaves

Attracts, Tolerance and Resistance

The Lilla Smoke Bush is well known for its tolerance to drought and animals like rabbit, so don’t worry if any of these come along, your Cotinus Coggygria ‘Lilla’ will be fine.

Garden

How should you then organize your garden to include your new Lilla Smoke Bush? Here are some recommendations by expert gardeners.

Most Cotinus Coggygria ‘Lilla’ owners agree that this shrub will look great in most rustic gardens of all types. 

Other owners consider that they complement well most gardens of informal and cottage styles. 

In particular, the Lilla Smoke Bush’s best location within your garden is in ground covers, banks and slopes, and in hedges and screens, others use it for landscaping in a small spaces, mass planting, cutting garden, border, firescaping/fire wise, hedge, or a specimen.

Companion Plants

Lilla Smoke Bush’s do well with some other plants beside it. One good companion plant is the Ninebark, which will pair up nicely with your leafy friend.

Others consider that a nice Panicum will work well too, so choose whichever you find works best for you!

Conclusion

So that’s it! These are the main plant care requirements that you need to keep in mind in order to have a healthy Lilla Smoke Bush in your garden or home.

Relevant Questions

Is Lilla Smoke Bush evergreen?

Yes, Lilla Smoke Bush is an evergreen. It has green leaves year-round. Some people might describe it as a “semi-evergreen” because it will lose its leaves in very cold weather, but it will always grow new leaves once the weather warms up again.

How quickly does a Smoke Bush grow?

Smoke bushes grow medium to fast, typically around one to two feet per year. However, they can reach up to 8 feet wide, so it’s important to plan for their eventual size when planting. Smoke bushes are also known for their quick spread, so be sure to space them out accordingly.

What are the types of Smoke Bush plants?

There are different types of Smoke Bush plants.

  • Daydream: is a Smoke Bush plant with green leaves and creamy blooms. This Smoke Bush plant is smaller, growing up to 10 feet wide and tall.
  • Nordine: is a Smoke Bush plant with purple leaves and it is very hardy. It can survive in cold weather. This Smoke Bush plant has yellow-orange fall foliage.
  • Royal Purple: is a Smoke Bush plant with purple leaves. It is a common type of Smoke Bush plant that has dark foliage and purple-red “smoke.”
  • Velvet Cloak: is another Smoke Bush plant that has dark purple leaves. This Smoke Bush also has dramatic orange-red fall color.

Sebastian Moncada

I’m also a plant enthusiast and researcher. I’ve been privileged to have lived my whole life around the wilderness of Colombia and I’m happy to share everything I learn along the way. “Adopt the pace of nature. Her secret is patience” – Emerson.

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