Grow-Low Sumac, known by its botanical name Rhus aromatica "Gro-Low", is a deciduous shrub with a low spreading habit, fragrant leaves and interesting hairy red berries prominent in the fall and winter. Maxing out at 1 to 2 feet in height, it is often used as a woody ground cover. Grow-Low should be pruned in the late winter, to remove dead matter, once the berries have been foraged by wildlife. It can be pruned lightly a second time in the late spring or summer, immediately following the flower drop, in order to control new shoots.
Remove any dead branches down to a point of live tissue or down to the crown, at the soil line, if necessary. Make as many cuts as necessary to extricate the entire branch from the shrub mass, as you do not want pieces of the cutting decaying in place.
Inspect the shrub for signs of decaying, diseased or dead foliage and clear away any that you find to make way for new shoots and to safeguard the health of the shrub.
Control the spread of the shrub, within designated boundaries if desired. by trimming back the terminal shoots of the outermost spreading branches. Do this size-control pruning right after the bloom period, each year.
Stimulate new growth in bare areas of the plant by renewal pruning in the defoliated zones, after the bloom cycle. Cut back the bare or sparsely covered branches down to just above a healthy leaf pair or down to the crown. Carefully collect the cuttings and compost or discard them as well.
Things You Will Need
- Pruning shears or secateurs
- Place all pruning cuts just above a healthy lateral branch, a leaf node or all the way down to the crown, when warranted. Use pruning shears or secateurs for small gauge wood and foliage and loppers for thicker, older growth greater than 1/3 inch or so in diameter.
- Colorado State University: Grow-Low Sumac (Rhus aromatica 'Gro-Low')
- University of Illinois Extension: HortAnswers - Sumac, Gro-Low Fragrant
- University of Missouri Extension: Pruning Ornamental Shrubs; Christopher J. Starbuck ; August 2007
- Colorado State University Extension: Deciduous Shrubs; R.A. Cox, et al.; April 2007