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?

Share

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

Friday - August 19, 2011

From: Heath, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Planting, Soils, Shrubs
Title: Growing Evergreen sumac in clay soil of Texas
Answered by: Guy Thompson

QUESTION:

I'm in need of a fast growing evergreen screening shrub/small tree. I'm considering the Evergreen Sumac but before I go further I need to know if this plant will thrive and remain evergreen in the Dallas (Rockwall) area. The soil in my yard is a hard packed clay and practically impossible to keep loose. In fact its about the worst soil I have ever encountered. Your thoughts or alternative recommendation please.

ANSWER:

The Recommended Species list for northeast Texas at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center shows Rhus aromatica (Fragrant sumac) but not Rhus virens (Evergreen sumac) as recommended for the Dallas area.  However, Dallas/Fort Worth landscape architects are using Evergreen sumac with success.   You might well contact the landscaper for planting tips.

Mr. Smarty Plants expects that Evergreen sumac can be successful, but only if the soil is suitably amended to give good drainage.  The ideal solution would be a raised bed in which you spade up at least a foot of clay from the planting site, mix it with an equal quantity of builders sand, and add a generous amount of peat moss.

The other sumac, Fragrant sumac, is somewhat more tolerant of poor drainage.  It is also an interesting plant, showing different faces (see images below) as the seasons progress.  Although it is deciduous, planting this sumac two deep would yield a fairly dense screen of winter twigs.

 

From the Image Gallery


Evergreen sumac
Rhus virens

Fragrant sumac
Rhus aromatica

Fragrant sumac
Rhus aromatica

Fragrant sumac
Rhus aromatica

More Shrubs Questions

Covering dead arborvitae with non-native ivy from Niles MI
April 14, 2013 - I have a severely thinning arborvitae hedge. It is probably too shady, but I want the privacy. I'm thinking of planting something like ivy to fill the gaps. I know it will probably kill the hedge, bu...
view the full question and answer

Pride of Barbados seed for Ft. Worth TX
February 07, 2013 - When can you plant the Pride of Barbados plant seeds and how to go about it in Fort Worth Texas?
view the full question and answer

A Bounty of Edibles for New Braunfels Texas
October 25, 2013 - I was hoping you could suggest a few plants that would serve several purposes. I live in New Braunfels, TX and would like to incorporate as many drought tolerant plants which would support birds, but...
view the full question and answer

Ground cover for Brooklyn, NY
January 25, 2013 - Hi Mr Smarty Plants, I'm looking for a fast growing ground cover for my Brooklyn, NY back yard. The area is nestled between 3 buildings and a fairly large tree, so most of the day its shady, but ...
view the full question and answer

Replacements for photinia from San Antonio
August 31, 2012 - i just read your response to someone regarding Red Tip shrubs. You just saved me thousands of dollars ! I was getting ready to order over 250 of these to line my 2.5 acre fence line. What shrub would ...
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.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center