Gro-Low SumacRhus aromatica 'Gro-Low'
View more from Other Shrubs & Hedges
30 day - ARRIVE AND THRIVE™ guaranteeLearn more
Rhus aromatica 'Gro-Low'
Outdoor Growing zone
Full Sun, Partial Sun
The Gro-Low Sumac is a selected form of an American native shrub, fragrant sumac. It makes an excellent ground-cover in areas ranging from full sun to light full shade, and everything in between. It grows in all zones, from 3 to 9, and this tough plant creates a carpet of branches and leaves less than 2 feet tall, but over 6 feet wide. It is fast growing, and only takes two or three seasons to fill in and reach a mature size. It has leaves in clusters of three, and the twigs and leaves have a resinous, lemony scent. They turn rich purple-red in fall, highlighted by orange and yellow, making a lovely show late in the season. Clusters of yellow flowers decorate the branches in spring, and the rich-green glossy leaves look great all spring and summer long.
Plant the Gro-Low Sumac in ordinary soil. It will grow in almost any soil, including urban gardens, but it does not grow so well in wet clay, or badly drained areas. It needs no particular care, and once established it is drought resistant, and chokes out weed growth. It has no significant pests or diseases and it can be trimmed as needed to keep it very neat, or you can leave it to grow naturally for wild and native gardens.
One of the most attractive ways to develop your garden beds is to use larger shrubs in the middle and background, and then fill the front with big spreads of lower plants. These broad sweeps unify the bed, and the garden, making it look large and majestic. The best foreground shrubs are low-growing but broad, filling the space, and they should have attractive foliage, with one or two seasons of special interest. When it comes to easy foreground shrubs, the Gro-Low Sumac is unsurpassed for beauty and ease of growth.
The Gro-Low Sumac forms a dense clump of intertwined branches, growing no more than 2 feet tall, and usually a little lower. Yet it spreads 6 to 8 feet wide, in a short time, growing at least 2 feet a year, so a few plants will fill a large space with top-quality ground cover. The slender branches are smooth and gray, and if you crush one, or the leaves, it releases a beautiful resinous, lemony fragrance. The branches are densely clothed in small leaves, each divided into three leaflets with wavy edges. They look a little like large three-leaf clovers, but the leaf is leathery, glossy and a rich green color. The leaflets can be as much as 3 inches long and 1½ inches wide, but they are usually smaller, often no more than 1½ inches long. The deep green leaves make a lovely neutral backdrop to your shrubs in spring and summer, but in fall they step out onto center stage. They take on a brilliant shade of purple-red, highlighted by flashes of orange and yellow. This spectacular show develops later than most other trees, but it is worth waiting for. In spring small clusters of yellow flowers form on the tips of the branches, adding an attractive touch, and increasing the value of this plant.
The Gro-Low Sumac is a plant well-known to garden designers and architects but often overlooked by home gardeners. This is a pity, as this outstanding plant is very easy to grow and makes a lovely contribution to your garden. If you don’t know it you should grow it – you won’t regret it. Plant the Gro-Low Sumac along the edges of large beds to unify them and cover the soil to prevent weed growth. This plant has shallow roots and it will not compete with your other shrubs for water or nutrients. Use it to cover areas beneath large trees where grass does not grow well. It doesn’t need mowing and it will turn unsightly areas into beautiful features in your garden. Use it in the foreground of your foundation planting, especially in partially shaded areas. Plant it to cover rocky places, or low walls, in shadier areas where other spreading plants won’t grow. This native plant is also useful for natural gardens, with other native flowers, growing happily among them.
Plant the Gro-Low Sumac in full sun, partial shade, or continuous shade beneath large shade trees. It will not grow well in the deep shade beneath evergreens, but it will grow easily on the north side of a building. It grows almost everywhere in the country, from zone 3 to zone 9, so wherever you are – plant it. Soil is never a problem, thriving on both acid and alkaline soils, and poor urban soils too. Heavy wet clay is the only soil it does not like. It is normally never bothered by pests or diseases, and this vigorous plant is drought-resistant except under exceptional conditions. If it spread too wide it can easily be trimmed back, and a light trim in spring, before the new leaves emerge, will quickly keep it very neat and tidy. Every few years, remove some of the thicker, older stems at ground level in spring. The leaves are slow to emerge, so don’t worry – it isn’t dead, just sleeping late.
The Gro-Low Sumac is a selected form of the fragrant sumac, Rhus aromatica, a native shrub found in all 48 continental states. It usually grows in sandy and rocky soils, and its flowers are important nectar sources for many butterfly species. Do not confuse it with the larger and more invasive Staghorn Sumac, Rhus typhina. Wild plants of the fragrant sumac usually grow well over 6 feet tall, but smaller plants are also seen, and the variety called ‘Gro-Low’ was almost certainly found in the wild and grown from collected pieces, possibly in the Midwest. Our plants are grown from stem cuttings, to preserve the special character of this low-growing form, and although not so well-known, this plant is catching on fast, and our stock will soon be gone. Do like the professionals and plant the Gro-Low Sumac in your garden – order now.