Rhus fastigiata is a much branched small tree or shrub native to South Africa. In nature, the plant will reach up to 10 feet (3 m) tall. The leaves are very small and trifoliate. Glossy green leaves on plants in containers will reach 0.75 inches (1.9 cm) long and wide. Twigs are reddish with older bark a reddish-gray. The plant in the photo was used as a Bonsai 9 years ago. At this age the plant, with selective pruning, has only reached a height of 12 inches. They are very easy plants to grow in containers and make excellent bonsai subjects. Plants are hardy in the landscape in USDA zones 9-11.
Blooming: Our plants bloom in spring with very small, cream-colored flowers.
Culture: Rhus fastigiata need full sun to partial, shade with a very well drained soil mix. We use a soil mix consisting of 1 part peat moss to 1 part loam to 2 parts sand. To this mix, we add small gravel to ensure good drainage. The plants are well watered and allowed to dry slightly before watering again. We fertilize the plants only once during the spring and summer months with a balanced fertilizer diluted to 1/2 the strength recommended on the label. During the winter months, the plants are kept in the cool rooms, where the nighttime temperatures fall to 48°F (9°C). Water is restricted, but not enough to cause leaf drop.
Propagation: Rhus fastigiata is propagated by cuttings or from seed. Seed can be obtained for this species from Silverhill seeds in South Africa.
Rhus fastigiata was featured as Plant of the Week March 13-26, 2009.
Guide to Past Plants-of-the-Week:
Cal's Plant of the Week was provided as a service by the University of Oklahoma Department of Microbiology & Plant Biology and specifically the late Cal Lemke, who used to be OU's botany greenhouse grower and an avid gardener at home as well. If the above links don't work, then try the overview site. You may also like to look at the thumbnail index. ©1998-2012 All rights reserved.