How to Prune Winged Sumac


Winged sumac is a deciduous large shrub found growing throughout the eastern United States. Used primarily as winter emergency food for mammals and songbirds, it is also used for ornamental plantings. The hedges of the sumac turn brilliant red in the fall and provide a vibrant ornamental plant. The winged sumac can reach a height of 10 feet and has smooth and dark green leaves with serrated tips. The compact clusters of flowers are yellow and green and begin blooming in July. The fruits mature later in the fall and are red in appearance. The sumac is found growing along in roadsides and in open fields.

Step 1

Prune winged sumac in the fall and after a majority of the leaves and flowers have dropped. Eliminate competing vegetation and weeds surrounding the base of the sumac. This will allow vigorous growth the following season.

Step 2

Prune back the winged sumac with pruning shears, which can create cuts up to ¾ inches in diameter. Thin back the shrub by cutting off broken and weak branches to their point of origin. Thinning produces a more open shrub and highlights the branch's internal structure.

Step 3

Cut back all lateral stems that are gnarled and cross each other. Remove diseased and pest-infested branches by removing the whole branch. This will prevent infecting the shrub from infestation and disease.

Step 4

Prune to one main stem and remove competing saplings on young winged sumac shrubs. This removal process will free up essential nutrients to the central branch and create a healthier plant. Remove all sucker shoots or small vigorous stems sprouting up from the root of the shrub as soon as they become noticeable.

Tips and Warnings

  • Always wear protective gardening gloves when using pruning shears.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning shears


  • Winged Sumac Plant Guide: USDA
  • Texas A&M University Extension
Keywords: pruning winged sumac, cutting winged sumac, winged sumac

About this Author

Callie Barber is a writer and photographer in North Carolina. Her work has appeared in Forbes and Automotive News magazine. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in international studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.