Over the last week, the landscape has dramatically transformed into a wide array of fall colors. So many reds, yellows, and oranges. Despite all the color, my attention often drifts to the star of the show - a lone individual tree with stunning color out in the forest or on display in someone's yard. Wow! The challenge then becomes determining what species of tree it is so I can get one just like it for my home landscape.
When planting a tree, those with great fall color should strongly be considered. Many of our native trees provide excellent color but are often hard to dig up from the woodland. Ask for them by name as they are increasingly available in the nursery trade. Whether a southeastern native or a popular ornamental, there are several options that will add excitement to your fall home landscape. Just for fun, here are Shane's Top Ten Trees for Fall Color:
#10 – Yellow Poplar – the first tree to display its buttery yellow fall color but tends to drop its leaves early if under drought stress.
#9 – Sweetgum – despite being a nuisance native tree, sweetgum has very nice fall color ranging from yellow to red to purple.
#8 – Hickory – In the forest, our native hickories put on an outstanding show of deep yellow fall color. Unfortunately, they are very slow in growth and rarely planted around homes.
#7 – Blackgum – Is a medium sized tree with outstanding deep maroon red fall color. Stands out in the forest setting. Not sure why it is not used more in landscapes.
#6 – Sourwood – Another small native tree with brilliant red color. Commonly seen on the sides of roads. Should be grown and planted more in the home landscape.
#5 – Dogwood - Can't beat a tree that has beautiful spring flowers and deep red fall foliage. A great specimen and must have in every home landscape.
#4 – Red Maple – The most widely planted shade tree in Alabama for fall color. Red maples are tough and adaptable making them popular choices in the urban landscapes. New varieties produce a more consistent red color in the fall.
#3 – Japanese Maple – These small ornamental trees are prized for their gorgeous red or green summer foliage and yellow, orange or red fall color. Find a spot for one in your landscape. You'll love it!
#2 – Ginkgo –This ancient tree from China is indeed unique with its one of a kind fan-shaped leaves. If you like pure yellow in the fall, then plant a Ginkgo. Mature trees are spectacular.
#1 – Sugar Maple – My absolute favorite! Sugar Maples remind me of the mountains. Sugar maple is the king of fall color but often underused in central Alabama because it may not consistently turn yellow or orange. I disagree; I planted one in my yard and love it. It is indeed the star each autumn.
Other honorable mentions that have nice fall color are Scarlet Oak, Bradford Pear, Sassafras, Crapemyrtle, American Beech, Chinese Pistache, and Baldcypress.
If you see a tree with beautiful fall color that you really like, chances are you can have one just like it in your yard. Fall is the best time for planting trees too. Enjoy the fall colors before they fall and fade away.
Shane Harris is the County Extension Coordinator for Tallapoosa County.
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