When it comes to sumac plants in the landscape, Tiger Eyes sumac (Rhus typhina "Bailtiger"), hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 4 through 8, just may take the cake. If its colorful foliage and elegant form don't do enough to recommend it, its ease of care might. This staghorn sumac cultivar can tolerant all soil types and isn't affected by adverse conditions, except for flooding, once it is established. It is not as invasive as its cousins, and it stays relatively small, maturing to 3 to 6 feet tall and wide. Also, its leaves won't cause a skin rash. If you pay special attention to Tiger Eyes plants during their first two years in your landscape, they will thrive with little attention afterward.
Things You'll Need
Water the Tiger Eyes shrubs to a depth of about 6 inches during their first two or three growing seasons whenever the top 3 inches of soil around the base of each plant dries. Tiger Eyes shrubs tolerate drought only after they are established in their location. Avoid wetting the shrubs' leaves, especially in evening. When left wet for too long, the plants are somewhat susceptible to leaf spot, rust and powdery mildew.
Cut out dead and diseased branches whenever you see them, using loppers for their removal. Cut the limbs down to the ground. Dip a rag in rubbing alcohol, and use the rag to wipe the pruning shears' blades before and after pruning. Using the rubbing alcohol prevents the spread of plant diseases.
Prune the shrubs in late winter or early spring to control their size, cutting suckers -- the separate growths coming up from the root systems -- and weak or exceptionally tall branches to the ground. Rejuvenate old plants by heavy pruning in springtime. Don't shear the top to control the sumac's size, but cut any tall branches off to ground level. Tiger Eyes shrubs produce fewer suckers than other cultivars of their species, which means they spread more slowly than their relatives. Keep the suckers in check, however.
Check the Tiger Eyes shrubs for signs of spider mites, aphids and caterpillars. Although this cultivar has few diseases or insects that threaten it, these pests, and the previously mentioned diseases that occur because of too much moisture, can affect the look of the plants. Control the pests manually by picking caterpillars off the shrubs, or use a strong blast of water in the case of spider mites or aphids.
For the best results, keep Tiger Eyes shrubs in an area with full sun to partial shade and well-draining, moderately fertile soil. In order for Tiger Eyes to have red fruit clusters in fall, plant a female and a male Tiger Eyes close together.
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Rhus Typhina "Bailtiger" Tiger Eyes
- Iowa State University Extension: Staghorn Sumac Makes a Statement in the Fall
- University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service: Plant of the Week -- Sumac, Tiger Eyes Golden
- Monrovia: Tiger Eyes Staghorn Sumac
- Virginia Cooperative Extension: Garden Sumacs (Rhus Spp.)
- Southern Living, The Daily South: Don't Fear Sumac