How to Transplant Sumac Bushes

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Things You'll Need

  • 2-gallon nursery container

  • Pointed spade

  • Burlap

Sumac plants grow vigorously following transplanting.

Nearly 250 species of sumac exist in temperate and subtropical woodland environments around the world, including several species that are cultivated as ornamental shrubs for their reddish berries and attractive foliage. It is sometimes difficult to determine the species or cultivar of sumac shrubs since there is a strong superficial resemblance throughout the genus Rhus, and so many gardeners turn to vegetative propagation methods such as sucker transplantation since most cultivars cannot be grown true from seed. Transplanting sumac suckers is a very simple task, and within one to two growing seasons, the shrubs will establish and begin to bloom.


Step 1

Prepare a planting bed for the sumac transplant before digging it up. Work a 2-inch-thick layer of compost into the soil of a sunny, well-draining bed. Dig a planting hole measuring 1 foot deep and 1 foot in diameter.

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Step 2

Locate a suitable sucker for transplanting at the base of a mature, two- to five-year-old sumac shrub in early spring. Choose one with slender, 12- to 18-inch-tall stems and plenty of leaf buds but no flowers.


Step 3

Insert the blade of a pointed shovel into the soil midway between the sumac sucker and mother plant to sever the connecting roots. Press the blade of the shovel down to a depth of 10 to 15 inches.

Step 4

Excavate the sumac sucker so a 1-foot diameter portion of soil remains attached at the base. Lift the sumac sucker carefully to keep the rootball intact.


Step 5

Transport the sumac sucker with the rootball wrapped in moistened burlap, if you are digging it up away from home.

Step 6

Plant the sumac sucker in the prepared bed. Hold the plant inside the hole with the roots resting lightly on the surface of the soil beneath. Fill in around the roots with garden soil until the bottom 1/2 inch of the stem is buried. Tamp the soil.


Step 7

Water the transplanted sumac sucker to a depth of 2 inches once a week. Maintain moisture at a 2-inch depth for the first growing season. Cease watering in autumn so the sumac sucker will acclimate to normal weather conditions.


Do not transplant plants without the permission of the land owner or appropriate government agency.


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