Plant Focus: Cotinus coggygria ‘Golden Spirit’

Plants, Plan Your Garden

Another of my favourite plants, this yellow leaved form of the smoke bush is perhaps less well known than its green and purple leaved relatives, but in my opinion deserves a place in all but the smallest of gardens.

Why I like it

It is a medium to large deciduous shrub, with golden yellow, slightly translucent leaves, which are an intense gold in full sun, but more limey yellow in partial shade. The leaves turn wonderful shades of coral, orange and red in autumn meaning that this plant is of wonderful foliage interest for 6 months of the year.

Like other smoke bushes, it has tiny flowers in large hazes of fluffy smoke like plumes from mid summer to early autumn. These are a pale straw green colour and stand out well against the foliage.

Looking after Cotinus coggygria ‘Golden Spirit’

It is fully hardy, unfussy about soil (any half decent moist but reasonably drained soil will do), and happy in full sun to partial shade. It needs very little care other than a bit of pruning to keep it tidy in early spring. If particularly large foliage is required, the plant can be hard pruned in spring, although this will limit the smoke like flowers.

Where can I use it?

This plant works well as a specimen plant in its own right, and even better as part of a specimen shrub grouping, for example with a creamy variegated Pittosporum and bronze leaved Physocarpus ‘Diabolo’. In my garden, it looks good next to a Nandina domestica. It also sits very attractively as a backdrop to blue and purple flowered smaller plants, as well as those with bronze and grey foliage. As with all wonderful deciduous plants, it needs a few evergreen neighbours to keep the border interesting in winter, but this seems a small price to pay for such a lovely shrub.

Photo Credits: Leonora (Ellie) EnkingF. D. Richards (1)F. D. Richards (2)K M (1)K M (2).


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