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Mr. Smarty Plants - Possibility of root rot in Praire flame-leaf sumac

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Thursday - July 08, 2004

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Possibility of root rot in Praire flame-leaf sumac
Answered by: Stephen Brueggerhoff

QUESTION:

I bought a prairie sumac two years ago and it was fine until recently when we had a lot of rain in Austin. Now the leaves are all brown and it appears to be dying. Is there something I can do? I really like this native tree/shrub.

ANSWER:

Prairie flame-leaf sumac, botanical name: Rhus lanceolata (prairie sumac) produces underground stems, giving the appearance of another sumac growing inches to feet away from the main plant. The kind of decline that you are describing sounds indicative of a vascular problems that are due to saturated soils. You may have extensive root rot, which is a little tricky to try and ameliorate once it begins. Given that the plant is prone to sucker readily, you could try digging up the plant (caveat: if it is possible to do so) and transferring it to a pot with well-draining media. I do not recommend applying a fungicide to this plant as it is already stressed from improper oxygen exchange in the root zone. Don't keep the media saturated; rather, be careful and purposeful in your watering if you transplant to a pot, and initially keep the plant out of direct sunlight. Regardless, it might be a good idea to "move" the plant to another well-draining location to avoid decline in times of water saturation.

 

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Prairie flameleaf sumac
Rhus lanceolata

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