Fall is the time when normally green trees and shrubs turn into glorious displays of red, orange, yellow and copper.
If you'd like to add some fall color to your yard, now is the time to think about what to plant next year. Here are some suggestions and tips from horticulturists at Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.
For additional questions, contact ISU the Hortline at 515-294-3108 or email@example.com.
Q: Which shade trees have colorful fall foliage?
A: Shade trees that possess excellent fall foliage include:
• Freeman maple (Acer x freemanii), hybrids of red and silver maples. Their leaves vary from orange to red in fall. Popular Freeman maples include Autumn Blaze, Sienna Glen, and Firefall.
• Red maple (Acer rubrum). Cultivars Red Sunset, Redpointe, and Scarlet Jewell have dark red foliage in fall.
• Sugar maple (Acer saccharum). Sugar maples' fall foliage varies from yellow to orange to reddish orange. ‘Commemoration,’ ‘Legacy’ and Fall Fiesta are excellent cultivars.
• Black maple (Acer nigrum). The fall foliage varies from yellow to orange.
• White oak (Quercus alba). Fall foliage is often reddish brown.
• Red oak (Quercus rubra). Red oaks have wine red foliage.
• Black gum (Nyssa sylvatica). These trees are not widely grown. They are somewhat difficult to transplant and prefer moist, well-drained, acidic soils (pH 6.0 to 6.5). However, the black gum possesses outstanding fall foliage. Its foliage is often bright red in fall.
Additional trees include:
• Yellowwood (Cladrastis kentukea) with yellow fall foliage,
• Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba) cultivars ‘Autumn Gold’ and Presidential Gold with golden yellow fall color,
• Honeylocust (Gleditsia triacanthos var. inermis) with yellow fall color,
• ‘Moraine’ sweet gum (Liquidambar styraciflua ‘Moraine’) with foliage that varies from yellow to red to purple, and
• Dutch elm disease-resistant American elms (Ulmus americana), such as ‘Jefferson,’ ‘Princeton,’ and ‘Valley Forge,’ with yellow fall foliage.
Q: Which small trees have colorful foliage in fall?
A: Small-stature trees (those less than 30 feet in height) that possess good fall foliage include:
• Serviceberry (Amelanchier spp.). ‘Autumn Brilliance’ turns yellow to orange to red in fall.
• American hornbeam (Carpinus caroliniana). Cultivars Firespire and ‘J.N. Strain’ have red-orange fall color.
• Redbud (Cercis canadensis). The heart-shaped leaves of redbud turn yellow-green to clear yellow in fall.
Q: Which shrubs have good fall color?
A: Several deciduous shrubs have colorful fall foliage:
• Fothergilla (Fothergilla spp.) varies from yellow to orange to red.
• Common witchhazel (Hamamelis virginiana) has yellow leaves in fall.
• The foliage of Virginia sweetspire (Itea virginica) varies from yellow to orange to reddish purple.
• Spicebush (Lindera benzoin), yellow foliage.
• Staghorn sumac (Rhus typhina), red foliage.
• Blackhaw viburnum (Viburnum prunifolium) reddish purple foliage.
Q: Why does fall leaf color on trees and shrubs vary from year to year?
A: The weather in early fall largely determines the intensity and duration of leaf color in those tree and shrub species capable of producing good fall color. Best fall color typically develops when days in early fall are sunny and mild and nights are cool (but remain above freezing). Long periods of cloudy, rainy weather or a hard freeze in early fall will mute fall colors.