Smoke Tree Winter Care

Smoke Trees are grown in agricultural zones 5-9, making them quite cold hardy and able to thrive in a large swath of the United States. In fact, Smoke Trees require little to prepare them for the winter. These deciduous plants will lose their leaves (after a beautiful autumn display) and go dormant in the winter, requiring little water or maintenance. If you are keeping a Smoke Tree in a large container, however, it is best to move it into a protected garage space to keep the roots from freezing. 

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Protecting Smoke Trees in Winter

In general, Smoke Trees are able to do just fine without any intervention in most cases. If you live in a place with particularly harsh winters, adding a thick layer of mulch around the base of your Smoke Tree can help protect the roots from a deep freeze. Sometimes, Smoke Trees will begin to wake up in the spring before the threat of frost has passed. If you notice your Smoke Tree producing leaves at this time, covering them with a frost cloth may protect the tender new growth from cold damage. 

Cutting Back Smoke Trees For Winter

Smoke Trees are low-maintenance plants that do not require regular pruning. These plants are deciduous and naturally lose their leaves in the winter. If you are looking to cut your Smoke Tree back hard, do so in the winter once the plant is dormant. 

Smoke Tree Winter Care in Pots

Like many other perennials, even cold-hardy Smoke Trees can be severely damaged in the winter if they are left in pots. This is because your Smoke Tree’s roots are raised out of the ground, exposing them to more temperature extremes than what they would experience in the ground. It is best to place potted plants in an unheated garage in the winter to protect the roots while allowing the plant to enter its dormant state. 

Watering Smoke Trees in Winter

Without leaves, Smoke Trees are not using much water in the winter months. Because Smoke Trees are prone to overwatering and root rot when they do have leaves, the same is even more true in the winter when there is no way for the plant to absorb the water sitting at its roots. At the same time, damp soil protects roots from the cold more than dry soil, so water your garden when a deep freeze is coming only when the conditions have been super dry previously. 

Growing Smoke Trees Indoors

Growing Smoke Trees indoors is not recommended, as these plants need full sun in order to thrive. In addition, allowing the plant to enter a dormant stage in the winter will improve bloom quality. 

Steps To Care For Smoke Trees in Winter

Smoke Trees are pretty easygoing and can handle most winters without any issues. If you are keeping your Smoke Tree in a container, move it into a protected space to avoid damaging the roots. 

Step 1 - Allow Smoke Trees to go dormant in the winter

Step 2 - Severe pruning can be done in late winter to encourage lush foliage growth

Step 3 - Apply a few inches of mulch to the soil to protect roots

Step 4 - Do not fertilize until the spring

Step 5 - Remove any dead or damage branches in the spring

Step 6 - Only water if it has been exceptionally dry

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 Author Lynn Gusman - Published 7-27-2023