Smooth sumac gorgeous, but too dense for most landscaping

Q Can you please identify this tree / shrub?

A It looks like smooth sumac, Rhus glabra, a native, large, deciduous shrub or small tree. It can grow up to 20 feet tall over time, but it gets wider slightly. In autumn it turns beautiful red tones. It wouldn’t be a great landscaping plant as it forms a thick thicket over time. You can see how it graces the interstates to the south.

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Q My wife and I are in the process of reducing our living conditions. My wife has planted a large number of daylilies in our garden, most of which she purchased from Oakes Daylilies in Corryton, Tenn. Our daughter and granddaughter live in Tennessee and we want them to have the daylilies. Do you have any suggestions on how best to prepare the daylilies for transport in the car?

A Daylilies are pretty sturdy plants. If it is possible to wait for the intense summer heat to pass, it would be an easier transplant (for both plants and humans). Now, when it needs to be done, get some large containers, dig up the plants, and place the plants in the containers by adding soil around the roots. Keep them moist – not wet. I would avoid leaving them in a sealed car for long periods of time in transit if it is hot outside. Plant them when you get to your destination and be sure to monitor water needs until the roots are restored. If you can wait until fall, the process would be the same, but transportation would be easier. Split them up when transplanting.

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Q I live in Carlisle and I’m retiring at the end of the year and doubling my raised bed vegetable garden (200 square feet). What’s the best way to clear the Bermuda grass and prepare the new space? I have the floor tested and changed regularly.

A You have several options. One of the easiest and most economical is solarization of the area. We’re going into the hottest time of summer so till the earth and saturate it with water, then cover it with clear plastic and weight down the edges to keep air out. Leave the soil covered for 6-8 weeks – or until you are ready to plant. The intense heat should also kill weed seeds and many disease spores. If you don’t plan to start a garden until next spring, consider planting a catch crop in the fall to enrich the site and keep weeds at bay this winter.

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Q My wife and I enjoy your articles very much. For mulberry – heavy doses of Preen in the spring also seem to “help” control it.

Mulberry herb can be distinguished from coveted plants (like the salvia behind it) by the seed heads that ripen quickly along the stem. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette / Celia Storey)

A Preen or any other registered pre-emergence herbicide will definitely help with mulberry since it is an annual weed. All you need to do is read and follow the directions on the label when using herbicides. When planting flowers or vegetables from seeds, it is not a good idea to use a pre-emergence as this can generally inhibit the germination of the seeds.

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Q My hydrangeas were really beautiful until the electricity company came through and cut the trees under which they were planted. Now they get too much sun even with water. I’m afraid they won’t survive the summer. Is it possible to transplant them at this time of year? You are not small.

A I think transplanting them now in the summer heat would be even more traumatic for the plants. Water them regularly, mulch the roots and wait for autumn to transplant. The bigger the plant, the harder it is to move in a good time of year, so July and August would be worse. If you could get a tree spade to dig them up fully and move them to a shaded area it might be worth a try, but water is important nonetheless.

After 38 years at the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service, Janet Carson is one of Arkansas’ most recognized horticultural experts. Her blog is at Write to her at PO Box 2221, Little Rock, AR 72203, or by email

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