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Golden Spirit Smoke Tree for Container Gardening

By: Mike Darcy

Cotinus Golden Spirit - Mike Darcy

Sometimes a plant that we think of as growing to 15 feet in height or more, can actually be kept quite small by severe pruning. I have a Cotinus coggygria ‘Golden Spirit’ (Smoke Tree) growing in a pot on our deck and it has been in the same pot for 6-7 years. In the winter, I prune the branches back to 12-18 inches, lift the plant out of the pot and add fresh Black Gold All Purpose Potting Soil as the plant goes back into the pot. ‘Golden Spirit’ smoke trees have leaves that are lime green in early spring and turn to chartreuse in the summer. They make excellent container plants, especially when there are plants with dark green foliage surrounding them. This Cotinus makes a great summer foliage plant and while it will not bloom because of the severe pruning, the leaves more than make up for the absence of flowers.

About Mike Darcy


Mike lives and gardens in a suburb of Portland, Oregon where he has resided since 1969. He grew in up Tucson, Arizona where he worked at a small retail nursery during his high school and college years. He received his formal education at the University of Arizona where he was awarded a Bachelor of Science Degree in Horticulture, and though he values his formal education, he values his field-experience more. It is hard to beat the ‘hands on’ experience of actually gardening, visiting gardens, and sharing information with other gardeners. Mike has been involved with gardening communications throughout his adult life. In addition to garden writing, he has done television gardening shows in Portland, and for over 30 years he hosted a Saturday radio talk show in Portland. Now he writes, speaks, gardens and continues to share his love of gardening. To be connected to the gardening industry is a bonus in life for Mike. He has found gardeners to be among the friendliest and most caring, generous people. Consequently, many of his friends he has met through gardening.

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