Rhus Growing Tips (Sumach)
Common name: Sumach
One of the best known members of this family, grown principally for the foliage and autumn colour is the stag’s horn( ) (AGM).
A native of North America, it has been in cultivation since the 1600s. The sap of the sumach can cause skin irritation, so precautions should be taken when handling.
Rhus typhina (AGM) forms a large, spreading shrub with suckering stems. In the autumn the leaves take on a mixture of rich orange, yellow and red. When they fall they leave behind crimson, hair-covered fruits that last well into winter, turning dark brown as they age.
One of the best forms is Rhus typhina ‘Dissecta’ (AGM), the leaves of which are dissected providing a fern-like effect. It also takes on rich autumn colours and has crimson seed heads. Anotherthat has been in cultivation for centuries is the smooth sumach (Rhus glabra). It is a medium-sized shrub with shiny, deeply toothed leaves that turn to an intense orange and red in the autumn. The female plants, in this case, have dramatic hair-covered, scarlet, plume-like flower heads.
Soil type Most well-drained soils are suitable.
Planting This can be done between early autumn and late winter wheneverconditions allow. Choose a sunny spot
Pruning Nois required. Rhus glabra and Rhus typhina can be cut down to ground level in mid to late winter, which will encourage additional shoots and an abundance of foliage.
Propagation Cuttings of half-ripe shoots around 10cm (4in) long, taken with a heel, in mid to late summer. Suckers can be removed in early autumn and planted elsewhere. Alternatively, shoots can be layered in the spring; these will usually be ready in two years.
Pests and diseases Rhus can suffer from die-back caused by unsuitable soil or weather conditions, otherwise this genus is generally trouble free.