Trees For Fall Color
Maples have been a long time favorite for their reliable fall color and their faster growth rates. The Shantung Maple (Acer truncatum) is a rounded ornamental tree, growing 25 feet tall by 20 feet wide. Leaves emerge in the spring with hues of red and purple later turning to a dark green. This maple is noted for its yellow and orange fall color, which sometimes has splashes of red and purple mixed in. Another small ornamental maple, Amur Maple (Acer ginnala) is extremely tough and durable, performing well in hot and dry conditions. Fast growth and excellent orange to red fall color make this maple a popular tree. Grows 15 to 20 feet tall and 12 to 15 feet wide. Also consider ‘Embers’ a selection with more reliable red fall color.
Similar to Red Sunset Maple, Burgundy Belle Red Maple (Acer rubrum ‘Burgundy Belle’) has outstanding red fall color turning to a burgundy, which reliably marks the arrival of fall each year. A nicely rounded tree, Burgundy Belle grows 45 feet tall and wide. If you are looking for Autumn Blaze Maple try Sienna Glen. Sienna Glen Maple (Acer freemanii ‘Sienna Glen’) features a quick growth rate coupled with the ornamental qualities of the red maple to create a great tree for many situations. Growing 50 feet tall and 40 feet wide. Both Burgundy Belle and Sienna Glen show greater tolerances to high soil pH than their former counterparts.
For a truly amazing display of yellows, oranges, and reds, turn to Fall Fiesta Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum ‘Fall Fiesta’). Grows 60 feet high by 45 feet wide.
Oaks, well known for their rugged durable nature, not only produce great shade but also bring some excellent color to the fall displays. Many selections from the red oak group have very nice fall color and normally reach heights of 40 to 50 feet tall with similar widths. Consider Red Oak (Quercus rubra), Scarlet Oak (Quercus coccinea), and Shumard Oak (Quercus shumardii). A less common tree, the White Oak (Quercus alba) is another great oak for fall color. This is a large rounded shade tree growing 50 feet tall and wide. Variable fall color can range from muted browns to brilliant red depending on the season. All oaks at Finke Gardens are grown from seed resulting in genetic variability. If fall color is an important quality to you, pick your oaks in the fall.
Pear trees are well known both for being covered with white flowers in the spring and for the brilliant red and orange colors they display in the fall. The Korean Sun Pear (Pyrus fauriei ‘Westwood’) is a smaller growing pear at 20 feet tall and wide. This pear shows excellent red fall color. Both the Autumn Blaze Pear (Pyrus calleryana ‘Autumn Blaze’) and the Cleveland Select Pear (Pyrus calleryana ‘Cleveland Select’ also known as ‘Chanticleer’) produce a very nice fall show of red-orange colors. Autumn Blaze grows to be 35 feet tall by 25 feet wide, while Cleveland Select tends to be narrower at 30 feet tall and 15 feet wide.
Other trees to consider
Autumn Brilliance Serviceberry (Amelanchier ‘Autumn Brilliance’): A colorful tree all year long, the serviceberry is loaded with creamy white flowers in the spring followed by small tasty fruits that start red and turn purple. Orange red fall color provides the perfect end to an outstanding season. Serviceberry thrives in part shade and grows 12 to 15 feet tall. Grown as single stem and clumps.
Autumn Gold Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba ‘Autumn Gold’): This stately tree has uniquely fan shaped leaves that turn a golden yellow color in the fall. One of the oldest trees on earth, the ginkgo is a graceful, long-lived tree that will provide several lifetimes of enjoyment. Leaves of the Ginkgo drop within 24 hours of freeze resulting in easy fall clean up.
Baldcypress (Taxodium distichum): Although its native range is much farther south than Nebraska, baldcypress is well-adapted to our climate. It is technically classified as a conifer, but it sheds its soft delicate needles in the fall after turning from army green to russet red. Medium growth rate and very large at maturity. The tree tolerates any soil moisture level from drought to standing water. Avoid planting in highly alkaline soils. Named Tree of the Year in 2001 by the Great Plants for the Great Plains program and promoted by the ReTree Nebraska campaign!
- State Street Maple (Golden Yellow)
- Katsura Tree (Pale Yellow)
- Sweet Gum (Yellow, Red, Purple)
- Royal Frost Birch (Orange)
Shrubs for Fall Color
Regent Serviceberry (Amelanchier ‘Regent’) is a smaller version of the serviceberry. It suckers more prolifically and can create a nice thicket if desired. Regent will grow 4 to 5 feet tall and wide and shows a nice yellow orange fall color.
Autumn Magic Chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa ‘Autumn Magic’) is a great all purpose shrub that can grow in full sun or part shade. White flowers in spring, ornamental fruit resembling blueberries, and orange red fall color give this shrub year round interest. Chokeberry is a great shrub to consider for attracting wildlife. Grows 5 to 6 feet tall and wide.
Henry’s Garnet Sweetspire (Itea virginica ‘Henry’s Garnet’) is a great small shrub that has white spike shaped flowers in the spring and outstanding purple red fall color. Colorful fall foliage of this plant holds for several weeks. Henry’s Garnet thrives in light shade but can be used in full sun if sited in a moist, favorable environment. Grows 3 to 4 feet wide and 4 to 5 feet wide.
Chicago Lustre Viburnum (Viburnum dentatum ‘Chicago Lustre’): Shiny dark green foliage, bluish black fall fruit, and red fall color make this viburnum a great addition to your landscape. Very tough and durable, Chicago Lustre requires little maintenance as it shoots up 8 to 10 feet tall. Other cultivars are available including Blue Muffin, Moonglow, and Papoose.
- Fothergilla (Orange and Red)
- Winterthur and Brandywine Viburnum (Red)
- Tiger Eyes and Prairie Flame Sumac (Red)
- Rusty Blackhaw Viburnum (Reddish Purple)
- Oakleaf Hydrangea (Burgundy)