We had the overgrown smoke bush cut to the ground last fall. This spring it sprang to life with many beautiful new branches. Unfortunately they are now eight feet high and flopping all over the place. Suggestions? Can I prune it to a few good branches, trim them back and get some lateral growth that will be stronger!?
Thank you for contacting Toronto Master Gardeners.
The smoke bush, Cotinus, is more of a shrub than a tree and can grow to 15 feet. They bloom on older wood so you will not have the blooms this year after cutting the bush back. You have revitalized your plant and it sounds like it is responding well. From your question I assume you are hoping for more of a tree pruning than a bush look.
As you suggest you will need to pick out the strongest best shaped branches and trim out the others. it will take time to create the shape you are looking for.
There are many previous answers in our library that discuss the smoke bush and pruning. I am including a few below for you to reference.