The vinegar tree or Rhus typhina, as it is called by its botanical name, is an easy-care and decorative shrub or tree. This makes it suitable for almost every garden – but unfortunately it can also become a nuisance. With the right measures, however, it is possible to embellish the garden with a vinegar tree without letting the plant overgrow it.

Choose the right location

Choosing the right location does not cause a headache with the vinegar tree. Although it prefers a sunny spot, it can also do well in partial shade.

Which substrate does the vinegar tree need?
Preparing the right substrate is just as easy. As long as the earth is permeable, the vinegar tree will flourish everywhere. If the garden soil is a little too firm, it can be loosened up with sand.

Rhus typhina thrives particularly well on poorly nutrient-poor, moderately dry soils. Loamy substrate with a high nutrient content is also suitable. The vinegar tree is really not picky. The only exceptions are locations with a high concentration of limestone.

Care for the lazy

Maintenance is just as easy as the choice of location and substrate. Therefore, the vinegar tree is the ideal plant for hobby gardeners who want to enjoy beautiful plants – without having to make a lot of effort. There is no need for regularity when watering, fertilizing or cutting, this ensures relaxed garden maintenance.

What should you watch out for when giving water?
Vinegar trees are extremely resilient, so watering is only necessary in the event of persistent drought. Soft water, such as rainwater, is best.

Choosing the correct fertilizer In
most cases, it is not even necessary to provide Rhus typhina with additional nutrients. If the leaves hang down, compost and nettle liquid manure are ideal fertilizers. It can also be a little horse or cattle manure.

Does the plant have to be cut?
As with all other maintenance steps, the vinegar tree is also an undemanding plant when it comes to cutting. Normally, it does not have to be brought into shape at all. Only if the branches are too close should trees or bushes be thinned a little. Autumn and spring are suitable times for this.

Propagating the vinegar tree is very easy, because actually it reproduces itself without any problems through root shoots. If you still want to help, you can dry the fallen fruits and then shake them. Here small, light brown seeds fall out. These can be sown in potting soil, in a tub or directly in the garden and covered with a thin layer of substrate. If they get enough moisture, they germinate quickly.

But beware! Nobody should overdo it with the number who does not want to bring a homemade nuisance into the garden.Moving and transplanting Young vinegar trees can on the one hand be moved without any problems, but on the other hand they also prove to be easy to care for when repotting. A larger vessel or another location – as long as a small root ball remains, this measure can be coped with.
Fall or spring are suitable times for this step.

Rhus typhina hibernate
healthily Vinegar trees that are freely placed in the garden can withstand temperatures down to below -20 ° C undamaged. And all of this without any additional protection. Rhus typhina that are cultivated in pots benefit from a sheltered place or a bright room that remains frost-free. Outside, the planter can also be protected by a few layers of garden fleece.

Typical pests and diseases

The vinegar tree is not attacked by typical pests or diseases. It is only sensitive to lime and shows this with brown leaves that fall off prematurely.

The successful removal

The vinegar tree is a shining eye-catcher, especially in autumn. At first it is difficult to think about fighting it. Because it thrives so quickly and reproduces easily year after year, removing the vinegar tree can quickly become a necessity. And there are several options available for this.

Prevention is better – limit reproduction.
The vinegar tree has shallow roots, the runners can only be found up to a depth of two meters. However, within a radius of up to 5 meters around trees or bushes. It is precisely from these runners that young shoots emerge, which in turn grow quickly and soon provide for new daughter plants in the right location.

If you want to prevent this, it is best to prevent the roots from spreading. To this end, it is advisable to introduce a professional and sufficiently deep root barrier directly when planting. In this way an over-reaching increase is restricted.

The root barrier can still be used even if Rhus typhina has been in the garden for a long time. However, this measure is of course associated with a little more effort. In this case, it is also advisable to remove the root plexuses that are already present outside the barrier from the soil. Otherwise new shoots can continue to sprout.


Mowing the young vinegar trees is probably the easiest way to stop them. However, this process must be repeated regularly. The smaller and greener the daughter plants, the easier the measure is.

It is therefore best to cut the shoots away when mowing the lawn every week.
Parting If the young Rhus typhina are already somewhat larger and can therefore no longer be removed by the lawnmower, parting and manual removal are recommended. The plants should be pricked all around and removed with as many roots as possible.

Remove shrub or tree completely

If it is no longer a question of only fighting the unwanted shoots in the vicinity of the mother plant, but rather of complete removal, larger guns have to be deployed.

“Simple” felling is then not enough. Only when the stump and all the roots are removed within a radius of five meters can the spread be safely avoided.

To do this, it is necessary to dig the earth to a depth of two meters and free it from the roots. Or exchange them. With sheer physical strength and a spade, this is a difficult endeavor. It is easier to let a small excavator do the work.

Why weed killers are not recommended

Instead of removing the still healthy stump of the felled tree and the roots from it, these can also be destroyed from the inside out.
For this it is necessary to provide the stump with the deepest possible drill holes and to fill in weedkillers. A single application is not enough. From here the remedy spreads in the wood and in the roots. However, this measure may require repeated applications of chemicals, at least for months or even years.

This is not very pleasant for purely practical reasons, but in fact it is also dangerous. Because it means that chemicals have to be handled repeatedly and end up in the soil. This will inevitably reduce the quality of the substrate, often so much that plants can no longer grow. And of course the funds are not healthy for humans or animals.

In some municipalities, the use of herbicides even requires a permit in order not to endanger the groundwater.

Alternative: the vinegar tree cannot tolerate too much lime. If this is applied in larger quantities, it at least weakens the tree and reduces the number of young plants that reappear.

Professional help
If the vinegar trees in the garden take over and your own efforts do not bring any improvement, professional help should be sought. Tree nurseries or nurseries can often recommend an experienced gardening service or even operate it themselves.

Is the vinegar tree poisonous?

The sap of the vinegar tree is poisonous and can cause irritation if it comes into contact with the skin. If it or parts of the leaves and fruits are accidentally swallowed, they can also trigger the following symptoms:

  • nausea
  • Vomit
  • diarrhea
  • Stomach pain and pain in the bowel area
  • Pain in the kidney and liver area
  • dizziness
  • a headache

Especially when children or pets are playing in the garden or animals are free to run, keep your distance and safety. It must always be noted that the wind could blow the leaves and fruits into an enclosure – a very large distance or an appropriate cover is therefore advisable for guinea pigs and rabbits. Gloves should be worn when cutting and removing.

The vinegar tree can be a shining eye-catcher in the garden and requires very little maintenance. Appropriate measures should be taken so that it does not become an aggressive competitor for all other plants.

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