Care of Sumac Trees

Updated November 21, 2016

More than 50 different sumac tree species are in existence, but a limited number are commonly used in landscaping. Staghorn, fragrant, shining and flameleaf sumacs are a few of the varieties considered attractive enough for ornamental planting. All are deciduous and boast colourful fall foliage. The trees produce colourful bloom clusters in summer that are followed by vibrant red berries. Commonly planted sumac trees range in size from 6 to 25 feet tall. They grow best in full sun and do well in almost any soil that has good drainage.

Plant sumac trees with their roots at the depth they were originally growing. Water at least to root level at the time of planting to encourage a sturdy root system.

Apply 3 to 4 inches of organic mulch under the tree.

Water deeply each week, unless there has been significant rainfall, throughout the first growing season. Water only when conditions are dry during subsequent seasons.

Feed with 16-8-8 fertiliser in early spring. Apply 1lb. of fertiliser for every 1 inch of trunk width. Mix the fertiliser with the surface layer of soil and water thoroughly.

Prune sumac trees in spring, before new grow emerges. Wear protective gloves because the sap exuded by the trees is poisonous. Trim off branches that are rubbing together, as well as dead and damaged growth. Cut one-fourth of the tree's stems back to the surface of the soil, which stimulates new growth.

Eliminate the suckers that emerge around the tree as often as needed. These can be mowed down or pulled up by hand.


Never burn sumac wood, because the fumes released can be harmful.

Things You'll Need

  • Spade
  • Organic mulch
  • 16-8-8 fertiliser
  • Protective gloves
  • Pruning shears
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