En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?


Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Sunday - October 26, 2008

From: Eden, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Planting, Transplants, Shrubs
Title: Transplanting native flame leaf sumac in Eden, TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford


We have tried without success to transplant a flame leaf sumac from the ranch to the house. What are we doing wrong?


It's difficult to tell you what, if anything, you have been doing wrong, because we don't what you have been doing to transplant Rhus lanceolata (prairie sumac) from its natural setting to an urban property. However, we did find this propagation information on the webpage linked above on Flame-leaf Sumac:

"Several species of Rhus are commercially available as propagated stock, which is both ecologically more desirable and usually more successfully established than plants dug from the wild. The best time for planting most shrubs and trees is during the dormant period of fall and winter. Even during the winter, however, the root ball needs moisture, so plan some winter watering if soaking rains fail to come regularly. You can use a spade to cut outer shoots from a spreading cluster in the wild. This allows the plant to remain in its natural setting while providing transplantable shoots that already have a developed root system. Simply cut straight down between the outside “sucker” shoots and the other plant and then cut around the new shoots to remove them from the soil. Keep the roots wrapped in damp newspaper and out of the sun. Replant the same day, if possible.

Even during the winter, the root ball needs moisture, so plan some winter watering if soaking rains fail to come regularly. As with any shrub or tree, native or introduced, the first year requires regular deep watering for successful root establishment. Once established, sumacs do not require fertilizing or watering beyond average rainfall."

The sumac does put up suckers that will eventually add to the plant and form a thicket. If you have been attempting to transplant one of these suckers without finding one that has roots already developed on it, that may be the problem you are encountering. Another problem may have been transplant shock. Following the instructions to transplant when the plant is semi-dormant, late Fall or early Winter, getting it quickly back into dirt, and watering slowly and consistently can help prevent transplant shock. 

Rhus lanceolata

Rhus lanceolata

Rhus lanceolata

Rhus lanceolata




More Shrubs Questions

Failure of Rock roses to bloom in Wimberly
June 26, 2014 - How do we get our rock roses to bloom. Our bushy plant has grown well but for the last two years seed pods form directly without noticeable blooms
view the full question and answer

Mountain Laurel having trouble in AZ
June 07, 2011 - A Sophora secundflora (Texas mountain laurel) was planted to an Arizona north faced front yard last year in August under full sun. Starting early this year, I noticed its leaves turn to light green an...
view the full question and answer

Transplanting American beautyberry in Cordele GA
May 19, 2014 - Is mid to late May too late in the season to transplant Callicarpa americana, American Beautyberry?
view the full question and answer

Native Substitute for Boxwood in Llano, TX
March 28, 2011 - I love boxwood because it's evergreen & provides a great backdrop to my flowers w/o taking over the bed. However, I'm trying to stick with native plants, so can you provide a native alternative to b...
view the full question and answer

Growing Sophora gypsophila from seed
April 23, 2008 - Sophora gypsophila B.L. Turner & Powell Do you have any information on growing this small tree from seed? I have a few seeds and would like to try. What conditions break seed dormancy? I have grown ...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center