Contact Us Host an Event Volunteer Join

Support the plant database you love!

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 Soils Questions

Soil for native Chilopsis linearis and Salvia greggii
February 08, 2010 - I want to plant a desert willow and a salvia greggii in my small lot. The developer used sandy loam to fill in the small garden in the front. I am 73 and a bit impaired. Do I really need to remove ...
view the full question and answer

Problems with Blackfoot Daisy from Lewisville, TX
April 23, 2013 - I planted a row of Melampodium leucanthum (Blackfoot Daisy) last spring at the front of the front yard, next to the sidewalk. It's full sun, east facing, unamended black clay gumbo soil. I put mulc...
view the full question and answer

Plants for soil with basalt outcroppings in Idaho
March 30, 2008 - We have basalt (lava) outcropping in part of our back yard and know we'll have to search for pockets of soil in which to plant. Any suggestions about what trees or shrubs would have a chance in thes...
view the full question and answer

Problem garden strip in Austin
May 22, 2014 - Currently I live in the west half of a duplex. There is a small strip of dirt about two feet wide between the wall and the sidewalk in the backyard. It faces west, meaning it only gets sunlight duri...
view the full question and answer

Adapting to clay soils in British Columbia
April 11, 2006 - What can I use to break down the clay content in my flower bed. It has a high concentration of clay and I want to plant treat it so I can plant flowers in it.
view the full question and answer

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