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By Piers66

Surrey, United Kingdom Gb

Cotinus Coggygria - identification and pruning advice please.

I've got what I understand to be a cotinus coggygria in my garden. Looking at pictures on-line I'm not sure what variety, most seem to be more upright than mine.

It's in a bed surrounded by a mahonia, a hypericum and a spirea. There used to be a fir tree of some kind in there that was making it really cramped, but I've recently cut that out so there's more space. The pictures below are from June last year, and today, April 27th.

It's not been pruned it at all for years (7 or more?), and seems to be very leggy. How should I prune this to get a good shape and encourage strong growth?

Cotinus_2 Cotinus_1 Cotinus_coggygria_crop



Royal Purple. I cut mine back hard in the autumn but yes, its too leggy. I would do it now; cut back hard, just above an outward-facing bud. I would get rid of the hypericum at least but your Cotinus won't be at its best being choked by the near-by shrubs.

27 Apr, 2016


Agree with Jimmytheone - this is a large shrub, and wants to get 12 feet high and about 9 to 10 feet wide, when its seen at its best, a thing of beauty indeed, so there's not really enough room for it there, but you can try to keep it a little smaller. Cut back as Jimmy suggests and, if you can, create a little more room for it. Yours has grown in this sprawled fashion because its been crowded out by surrounding shrubs. It's usual to trim the tops in spring after the leaves have arrived - when it grows upright, you often find some thinner branches at the top which are bald for the last 6 inches, with a tuft of growth at the end/top, so those get clipped back to bushy growth.

27 Apr, 2016



Thanks for the advice.

I've been looking at other Cotinus in friends' gardens and in nurseries, and I do wonder if this is a smaller, leggier variety. The ones I've seen that are more tree-like have slightly larger leaves, and just don't seem to have as many thin off-shoots as mine.

Anyway, whatever kind it is, I did some moderate pruning, not really what you'd call 'hard', to see how it responded, and I'm please to say that the pruned stems have plenty of new buds / new leaves on them, so it seems to be happy!

As it's already June, should I wait until early next spring to do a hard, structural prune, or is it worth cutting further now?


P.S. I've added a third photo showing the current state.

1 Jun, 2016


Oh how I wish there was a dwarf version of this shrub - but I can assure you there isn't. Yours looks like this for the reasons described previously, ie, too crowded, insufficient space for it. Those you're seeing elsewhere that look better are growing in more appropriate situations, most likely. Plants behave similarly to humans - when Japanese women's feet were bound, their feet remained small and in many cases, distorted. That's what you're seeing in your Cotinus.

Unless you remove the shrubs either side, it will never achieve its full growth potential, so its probably not worth doing too drastic a prune, the best you can aim for is to keep it bushy by judicious pruning.

1 Jun, 2016

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