How to Grow: Fall Foliage

Every year I delight in the changing colors of the maples, ash, poplar and other deciduous trees. But this year we’ve had enough moisture that the leaves have held on longer and some bright, sunny days and chilly nights that help stimulate the color change. Deciduous leaves change color when the chlorophyll drains from the leaves revealing the other color pigments that have been covered by the green all summer.

While we can’t rival Mother Nature in our garden for a fall foliage display, we can augment what she does. There are many native shrubs and trees that we can plant to supplement what we’re seeing in Nature. In our landscape we have some examples. Grey dogwood (Cornus racemosa) is a spreading native shrub that has berries birds love. It also produces a rich, burgundy color on the leaves in fall. Some of the viburnum shrubs also feature this purple/burgundy color. We grow the native Black Haw viburnum (V. prunifolium) for the berries and foliage.

Even weedy plants, such as sumac have a place. Sumac produces flowers and seeds that insects and birds love. But in fall the leaves turn a brilliant red color and shine in the landscape, especially if you have a grove of sumac. Sugar and red maples are the prime color providers in our forest, but some varieties of Japanese maples also produce yellow, orange or red colored leaves.

We also love growing plants with multiple uses in our yard. Food plants, such as persimmon (yellow leaves), Amelanchier (orange and purple leaves) and blueberries (burgundy leaves), all produce fruit for us and birds and look beautiful with their colorful leaves in fall.

Enjoy the video highlighting some of these plants and take the time to enjoy the leaf show this fall is you live in an area with fall color.

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