Good Trees for Fall Color
Marianne C. Ophardt
Washington State University Extension
Area Horticulture Specialist
What are some trees that will grow well in our area and provide consistent fall color? If you’re looking for a bright red to purple, look for an American sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua) tree. They hold their leaves until late in the fall and provide an excellent display. Look for selected cultivars, such as `Moraine,’ which has a very bright red fall color. `Moraine’ also has a relatively fast rate of growth. Sweetgum prefers an acidic, moist, rich soil and will need some special attention in area landscapes where the soil is very alkaline ... but it’s worth the trouble. Sweetgums are relatively pest free ... another plus on their side.
The red maple (Acer rubrum) is another colorful autumn tree. It does very well in area landscapes and tolerates a range of soils and conditions. Its fall color ranges from yellow to orange to fiery red, depending on the cultivar. While there are many, many cultivars, `October Glory’ and `Red Sunset,’ are two local favorites.
Other trees that provide spots of red, bronze, purple, or yellow fall color include flowering pear, flowering dogwood, red oak, Norway maple, Japanese maple, gingko, aspen, and birch. If you long for more fall color in this area, plant some of these trees and shrubs and encourage others to plant them too!