Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

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 Planting Questions

Installing limestone walkway around trees from Pflugerville TX
June 28, 2012 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants:I wish to install a limestone walkway in my front yard, however, there are some roots(~ 1.25 inch) in the designated area. Will this hurt or kill the tree if I cut these away? T...
view the full question and answer

Compatibility of mixed ground covers with St. Agustine grass
March 04, 2015 - My husband and I live in Northwest Austin. We have removed lawn from our front yard and replaced it with mulch and some trees and other plantings. We would like to replace the lawn in our backyard ...
view the full question and answer

Puppy-proof plants in Denton TX
June 04, 2010 - I recently got a couple of puppies that stay outside in a fenced off area of the backyard. Of course, they love trying to dig under the fence and get out. I placed cement landscaping border stones alo...
view the full question and answer

Best time to plant Habiturf in Austin
February 20, 2012 - When is the best time to plant Habiturf seeds?
view the full question and answer

Planting Muhlenbergia capillaris (Gulf muhly)
October 27, 2011 - Is it too late to plant Gulf Muhly seed in North Texas (October)?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.