Thursday, September 10, 2009

Picks from the Pros

Tiger Eyes™ sumac has been around for a while – it was introduced by Bailey Nurseries in 2004, but it has not lost its appeal. If you haven’t seen this gem, Tiger Eyes™ is a sumac mutation with deeply cut golden leaves and a smaller stature. New foliage is chartreuse with reddish veins, which turn bright yellow and stay bright yellow even in full sun. In autumn the plants turn brilliant orange. Greenish-yellow flowers appear in summer, followed by velvety, reddish bunches of fruits (drupes) that feed the birds in winter.

The plant makes a nice specimen in the middle of the border, or is a nice transition between garden and wilderness. It grows as an upright, rounded shrub, six to eight feet in height and spread, with branches angling up while the lacy leaves droop down. The bare winter branches continue the dramatic show.

Tiger Eyes™ is easy to grow and hardy to zone 4, but is not as large or invasive as other sumac types, but be on the lookout for suckers (it also makes a good container plant, in case you are worried). Deer have been known to dine on sumac at times, but usually prefer other plants.

Plant Tiger Eyes™ sumac in well-drained soil and full to part sun. I have a reliable report that it even performs well in an area of dense shade that gets blasted with late afternoon sun. It will tolerate poor soils quite well, thrives in clay and is drought tolerant once established.

Bauman’s Farm & Garden carries the plant, as well as many other area nurseries.

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