Cotinus requires little or no pruning which makes it easy to grow. In late winter/early spring around February/March time a light prune can be undertaken if needed to remove diseased, spindly or crossing branches and then a feed is an option. Equally Cotinus can be left for several years with little or no attention.
Cotinus when grown in its preferred conditions can be vigorous and get large. This means it may outgrows it allotted spot or is overshadowing neighbouring shrubs and plants. If this occurs, Cotinus can be hard pruned if the shrub is mature and it will tolerate being cut back hard or coppiced and this will keep it in check although at the expense of flowers. Hard pruning will also have the effect of producing larger leaves that year. Cotinus will respond well to clipping and I have seen it grown to good effect clipped into a round lollipop shape, which makes a nice contrast from green topiary. Winter is the best time to prune or trim Cotinus, around February when the shrub is dormant and during a mild spell.
If Cotinus is not the ideal shrub for your garden, check out shrubs and bushes; spring flowering shrubs; summer flowering shrubs; shrubs with autumn and winter interest; and evergreen shrubs.
Cotinus comes into leaf late in spring but the compensation is the great autumn colour. Cotinus looks good with many border plants, blue and pink Clematis, with vibrant greens, as in the image centre which is with Alchemilla mollis, and with strong blues such as Agapanthus and good with Crocosmia; and also with other garden shrubs by way of contrast as in image top left with Cornus.
Cotinus is fully hardy and easy to grow. The new foliage in spring looks lovely and particularly beautiful with raindrops on it. Late summer the shrub, if provided with enough warmth and sun, will flower producing the delicate smoke effect and then put on spectacular autumn colour; a great garden shrub.