Common Sumac Tree Types for Gardens

Succulent plants and trees are beautiful at any time of year. Spring blooms are preceded by dense profusions of colourful foliage, which is followed by a stunning display of fall colour.

It is not uncommon for the beautiful crimson clusters of fall fruit to continue through the winter. Sumac tree information and growing advice are available here.

Sumac Tree Types

The most abundant and widely available landscape species are smooth sumac (Rhus glabra) and staghorn sumac (R. Typhina). Both can reach a height of 10 to 15 feet (3-5 metres) and a width of 3 to 5 feet (1-2 metres).

Staghorn sumac branches have a hairy texture, which distinguishes the species.

Birds and small mammals find them to be ideal wildlife shrubs because of the food and shelter they give.

Containers are ideal for both species, as they can be kept much smaller.

Here are some additional sumac tree types to consider for your garden:

  • Prairie Flameleaf sumac (R. Lanceolata) is a native of Texas, but it can only survive in zones 6 and above. It becomes a tree that is 30 feet (9 m) tall. Red and orange are the colours of fall. This species can handle a lot of heat.
  • Tobacco sumac, also known as R. Virens, has green leaves with pink edges. You can grow it as a small tree or as a shrub by cutting off the lower branches. It grows between 8 and 12 feet tall (2-4 m.).
  • Evergreen sumac, which always stays green, makes a nice, tight hedge or screen. Flowers and berries can only be made by females.
  • Fragrant sumac (R. Aromatica) has green flowers that don’t show up well against the leaves, but its fragrant leaves, beautiful fall colour, and ornamental fruit more than makeup for this. This plant is good for stabilising slopes and growing wild in places with poor soil.
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Sumac Care Must-Knows

Sumac is often chosen by gardeners because it can grow in many different types of soil as long as it drains well. Root rot can happen when the soil is too wet.

Plant sumac in full sun. Some species can live in part shade, but if they don’t get enough sunlight, they may grow laxer and have less vibrant colours.

Golden-leaf cultivars like Tiger Eyes, which is staghorn sumac, need shade in the afternoon to keep their leaves from getting burned.

If this plant grows in full sun, the bright colours on its leaves may start to fade.

Sumac is easy to spread, and its underground rhizomes usually cause it to grow into a thicket.

Think about this when deciding where to plant it, because larger species can be hard to control. Digging is a better way to control smaller species.

Some sumacs are spread by seeds, so cut off the spent flowers if you don’t want them to spread by themselves.

Growing Sumac in the Landscape

Sumac has beautiful fall colour, which is why more and more gardeners are planting it in their yards.

Most species have bright red leaves in the fall, but there are also yellow and orange varieties that can be grown in gardens.

If you want a great show in the fall, make sure you get a deciduous tree instead of an evergreen one.

Sumac is a plant that can grow in almost any soil that drains well.

Most varieties do well in full sun or partial shade, but flame leaf and prairie sumac bloom and change colour better in full sun.

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The plants can survive drought, but they will grow taller if they get watered often when it doesn’t rain.

How hard they depend on the type. Most are hardy in zone 3 of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Colourful Combinations of Sumac

Sumac goes well with other plants in the garden because it comes in so many different shapes and sizes.

There are low-growing types that spread out and can be used as filler plants in large, low-maintenance areas.

There are also large plants that can be used as garden focal points.

Most varieties have compound leaves that look like ferns and give the plants a soft texture.

All types of sumac have flowers, though the flowers on the smaller ones aren’t very big.

Larger types make up for the small size of their blooms by having big clusters of white petals that pollinators love.

When the flowers die, they turn into drupes, which are clusters of brightly coloured, fuzzy, red fruit.

But the real show doesn’t start until fall, when the orange, red, burgundy, and gold leaves of sumac cover the hillsides.

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