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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.

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Wednesday - December 09, 2015

From: Shiro, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Pruning, Shrubs
Title: Decreasing the Height of Smooth Sumac
Answered by: Anne Van Nest

QUESTION:

I have a 9-10 ft. Smooth Sumac that I purchased from an LJWC plant sale several years ago. It has a main trunk and one branch about halfway up. I have read that these sumacs can be pruned down to almost ground level in order to get a bushier look. But pruning a main trunk on other shrubs/trees has sometimes produced a kinky branched, unnatural look. Can I prune this sumac down and if so, how far down and when would be the best time to do this?

ANSWER:

It is true that most Rhus species can be pruned hard to encourage them to send out new growth from closer to the soil level. This is best done when the plants are young and for those growing in full sun locations. This hard pruning forces dormant buds lower on the trunk to send out new branches. The likely place to prune your Smooth Sumac (Rhus glabra) plant is above the one lower branch at about the 5 foot level. Again, a greater success will be achieved if this is done on young plants that are growing in full sun. Winter or early spring are good times to do rejuvenation pruning - just before new growth starts.

The Friends of the Wild Flower Garden have a good information page on Smooth Sumac and show the result of early pruning on this shrub.

 

From the Image Gallery


Smooth sumac
Rhus glabra

Smooth sumac
Rhus glabra

Smooth sumac
Rhus glabra

Smooth sumac
Rhus glabra

Smooth sumac
Rhus glabra

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