How to Balance pH for Shining Sumac Plants

Balancing the pH for a shining sumac (Rhus copallinum) plant is crucial for its optimal growth and health. The ideal pH range for this plant is slightly acidic to neutral, between 5.5 and 7.5. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through the step-by-step process of testing, adjusting, and maintaining the perfect pH level for your shining sumac.

Soil Testing for Shining Sumac

The first step in balancing the pH for your shining sumac is to determine the current pH level of the soil. You can purchase a soil testing kit from a local garden center or send a soil sample to a laboratory for analysis. This will provide you with the exact pH reading, which is essential for making the necessary adjustments.

Adjusting the pH for Shining Sumac

shining sumacImage source: Pixabay

Lowering the pH (Acidic Soil)

If the soil pH is too alkaline, you can lower it by adding elemental sulfur or a sulfur-containing product, such as aluminum sulfate or ferrous sulfate. The amount of sulfur needed depends on the soil type and current pH level. As a general guideline, apply 1 to 5 pounds of sulfur per 100 square feet to lower the pH by one unit.

Raising the pH (Acidic Soil)

If the soil pH is too acidic, you can raise it by adding lime. The amount of lime needed depends on the soil type and current pH level. As a general guideline, apply 5 to 10 pounds of lime per 100 square feet to raise the pH by one unit.

Timing for pH Adjustment

The best time to adjust the soil pH for your shining sumac is in the fall or early spring. This gives the soil amendments time to react with the soil before the growing season, ensuring the optimal pH is achieved.

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Monitoring the pH

shining sumac 2Image source: Pixabay

After adjusting the soil pH, it’s essential to monitor it regularly to ensure it stays within the ideal range of 5.5 to 7.5. You can retest the soil pH every one to two years to confirm the pH is still balanced.

Additional Care for Shining Sumac

In addition to balancing the pH, it’s important to provide proper care for your shining sumac plant. This includes:


Water the plant once a week until it’s established, and then as needed during dry spells.


Fertilize the plant with compost or a balanced slow-release fertilizer upon planting. No further fertilization is needed.


Prune the plant to remove any dead or damaged branches and to control its size and shape.


Propagate the plant through cuttings from stems in early summer.

By following these steps, you can ensure your shining sumac plant thrives and maintains its vibrant, shiny foliage.


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