How To Prune a Smoke Tree: The Definitive Guide for Beginners

Smoke trees, also known as smoke bushes, are beautiful ornamental shrubs that add a unique touch to any garden or landscape. However, like all plants, they require regular maintenance in order to thrive and maintain their beauty. One of the most important aspects of caring for a smoke tree is pruning it properly. In this blog post, we will provide you with an in-depth guide on how to prune a smoke tree.

When to Prune

The best time to prune your smoke tree is during its dormant season which occurs during late winter or early spring. This timing ensures that the plant has plenty of time for new growth before the onset of summer when it blooms.

Tools Required

Before you begin pruning your smoke tree, make sure you have the right tools on hand:

– Gloves: To protect your hands from cuts and scrapes.
– Shears: Hand-held shears work well for small branches while larger branches may require pruning saws.
– Loppers: These are ideal for cutting thicker branches.
– Disinfectant: Properly disinfecting your tools before use helps prevent any disease transmission between plants.

How To Prune

Step 1 – Remove deadwood: Start by removing all dead or diseased wood from the plant using clean and sharp shears or loppers. Cut back the affected branch just above where it meets another healthy branch.

Step 2 – Identify crossing or rubbing branches: Crossing and rubbing branches can damage each other over time so remove one of these offending limbs entirely at its base.

Step 3 – Thin out smaller shoots: Smoke trees produce lots of small twigs that can create crowded foliage; thin out some smaller shoots evenly throughout the canopy so that light can penetrate into inner areas below them more readily—this will encourage better overall growth habits as well as help rejuvenate older parts toward center portions where there might be less sunlight exposure than outer sections receive naturally via photosynthesis.

Step 4 – Remove lower branches: If you want to make your smoke tree look more like a small tree than a shrub, then remove all but one or two of the lowest branches from the main stem.

Step 5 – Shape the plant: Lastly, shape your smoke tree by cutting back any excessively long shoots. This will maintain its natural form and give it an attractive appearance.


Pruning is an essential part of maintaining a healthy and beautiful smoke tree. By following these simple steps on how to prune a smoke tree, you can keep yours looking its best year after year. Remember that pruning should be done annually, so don’t neglect this important task or wait until it’s too late!