Trees for Fall Color

Trees for Fall Color

Even though, the majority of nursery plants are purchased in spring, more and more homeowners are asking their nursery professionals about selecting plants that provide interesting fall colour; and why not?  Autumn weather on the prairies have been glorious the past two decades, providing lots of opportunity to enjoy the outdoors, and prolonging the fall colour season.

This article focuses on some key tree varieties that you’ll want to consider when you’re at the garden centres this season.  There are many shrubs for fall color, as well as vines, perennials and yes, even evergreens.

This is by no means an exhaustive list.  These are plants that I think really should be on your ‘have a look’ list when you are at your garden centre selecting trees for fall colour. Some you’ll be familiar with, others will outright surprise you.

Red Maple (Acer rubrum)

These are shade trees attaining heights of 30-60 feet. Some have showy red flowers before leaves open in spring.
Fall Leaf Colour: Vibrant shades of red & orange.
Summer Leaf  Colour: Green
Suggested Varieties: First Editions™ Scarlet Jewell™, Northwood & Red Rocket.

Tatarian Maple (Acer tataricum)

These are smaller, ornamental trees maturing at about 20 feet. They feature incredibly colourful samaras (seed heads) in mid-summer.
Fall Leaf Colour: Shades of orange, red & yellow.
Summer Leaf  Colour: Green.
Suggested Varieties: Hot Wings® & Rugged Charm™.

Birch (Betula)

Planted for ornamentation or shade. Birch is valued for it’s beautiful exfoliating (peeling) white bark. The popular varieties mature at heights of 26 to 45 feet.
Fall Leaf Colour: Bright yellow.
Summer Leaf  Colour: Green.
Suggested Varieties: Paper (clump or single trunk) & Dakota Pinnacle®.

Honeylocust (Gleditsia)

The newer varieties are thornless and seedless. Nice medium-sized ornamental trees that provide dappled shade.
Fall Leaf Colour: Shiny yellow.
Summer Leaf  Colour: Green.
Suggested Varieties: Northern Acclaim®.

Northern Pin Oak (Quercus ellipsoidalis)

Greyish-black deeply furrowed bark. Rich dark summer leaf colour. Matures at 40 feet.
Fall Leaf Colour: Brick red – very unique!
Summer Leaf  Colour: Dark green.
Suggested Varieties: Shooting Star™.

Mountainash (Sorbus)

Ornamental trees primarily planted for their showy display of berries in fall and winter. Also provides some shade.
Fall Leaf Colour: Striking red-orange.
Summer Leaf  Colour: Green.
Suggested Varieties: Cardinal Royal® & Black Hawk.

Harvest Gold® Linden / Basswood (Tilia mongolica ‘Harvest Gold’)

Strikingly beautiful shade tree with large leaves that really drop the summer temperature with their deep shade. Lovely exfoliating (peeling) bark. Mature height is 40 feet.
Fall Leaf Colour: Golden-yellow.
Summer Leaf  Colour: Deep dark green.

Larch / Tamarack (Larix)

Most people think of Larch as an evergreen, but it is actually a ‘deciduous conifer’, a coniferous tree that drops its foliage in fall. They are a great solution for areas that do not drain well or where standing water lingers. Mature heights 40 – 50 feet.
Fall Leaf Colour: Intense golden-yellow.
Summer Leaf  Colour: Green.
Suggested Varieties: Siberian & Oasis (Oasis is so-named because it retains its green colour longer than Siberian Larch and retains its needles until winter, then features many small cones.) has a great plant search engine that allows you to search for plants that provide great fall colour.

Happy Gardening!

For more ideas ask your local garden center professionals and make sure you follow us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Pinterest for other help tips and hints.


Guest post by Jan - Bylands Account Representative

I’m very proud of my 4 children.  All 4 of them, worked many summers in the garden centre, they love plants and gardening too – but opted for totally different careers.  You can sometimes find Jan as a guest on ‘The Gardener’, a radio progam in Winnipeg on Sundays.