Best Trees for Fall Color in North Texas

Crape Myrtle's Fall Colors Frisco, TX

Crape Myrtle’s Fall Colors
Frisco, TX

Hooray!  We are finally getting close to the prime season to plant trees and shrubs!  And while fall is the best time to plant ANY type of tree or shrub in your landscape, those that display beautiful foliage may be on the forefront of your planting list as we delve into autumn. Keep in mind in the North Texas area we may not get the show-stopping colors that tree varieties in the cooler mountainous areas of the country provide, but we do have a few choices here in the heat-stricken, drought-prone, flat land that can certainly add vibrancy to our yards.

As such, I’d like to provide you with a few fine fall foliage (say that phrase 5 times in a row!) suggestions as you deliberate upon new additions to your property:

 

LARGE TREES

Sweetgum

Pros:
Large, upright, and relatively rapid-growing tree with beautiful fall foliage turning gold to orange to red.

Cons:
Prefers slightly acidic soil and drops spiky seed balls. An acquaintance of mine planted a couple of these trees in the Frisco, Texas area beside a pond. Although Frisco has neutral to alkaline soil they did pretty well there and as mentioned above, they indeed produced a nice show of color. As a side note: Some areas of Coppell and Lewisville, Texas (Sandy Lake area) indeed have acidic soil similar to East Texas. For those of you that reside in that outcropping of soil, the Sweetgum may indeed be a prized tree.

Ginkgo

Pros:
Reliable golden fall color. Resistant to pests.

Cons:
Female cultivar produces foul-smelling, messy fruit. When purchasing, speak to someone that can assure you are buying a male version.

 

MEDIUM TREES

Bradford Pear or other Callery Pear Varieties

Pros:
In the North Texas area, especially in the urban/suburban neighborhoods, the Bradford Pear is indeed one of most spectacular of our fall foliage trees, showing colors of orange, red and deep purple. Another nice thing about pear trees is they are beautiful in the spring as well, producing white flowers that literally cover their canopies.

Cons:
Unfortunately the Callery Pear varieties do not hold up well in the ice storms we occasionally get here in North Texas. You may lose a limb or two and, sometimes, the entire tree.

Texas Red Oak

Pros:
Drought tolerant with leaves turning brilliant red in the fall. I own a Texas Red Oak and can attest to its beautiful red to deep maroon colors before dropping leaves in late winter.

Cons:
Oak wilt can be a problem.

 

SMALL TREES/SHRUBS

Crape Myrtle

Pros: The Crape Myrtle not only reliably produces long lasting, strikingly gorgeous blooms in the heat of the Texas summer, but also produces vibrant orange to red leaves in the fall. In winter, you can enjoy its very interesting bark patterns. Also, I almost hesitate to place this tree in the “small” category because depending on the variety you purchase, it can indeed grow taller than a one story home.

Cons:
Although newer cultivars are more resistant, most varieties continue to be susceptible to powdery mildew. To reduce this problem, plant in areas that allow for good air flow and avoid sheltered corners of your landscape.

Japanese Maple

Pros:
A wonderful “specimen” tree that possesses the most brilliant of fall color for a long period of time. On the contrary to the Crape Myrtle above, you SHOULD plant this tree in a sheltered, shaded corner of your home or an otherwise mostly shaded area. Very striking when planted against light brick or a light painted surface at the front of a home or business.

Cons:
Requires pruning to develop good form. Can be a bit finicky (premature leaf drop) if not planted in just the right spot.

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So – if you have an empty spot in your landscape that you’d like to fill with either a shade tree or a specimen, I encourage you to try one or more of the above. Not only will you gain a tree, but you’ll gain a pretty background in the fall – and with a few, you’ll gain a pretty background for multiple seasons!

For more information, including depictions, about the above trees as well as many other trees, see the reference I used for this post at: http://texastreeplanting.tamu.edu/ViewAllTrees.aspx.

Until next time,
Cindy

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