Trees for Vibrant Fall Color:

Fall is an amazing time of year when it comes to plants. Once we start getting our end of summer rains, we always know that Fall is close and it’s about to cool off which gives the perfect opportunity to plant fresh gardens as well as the tree or shrub you’ve been wanting.

The reason Fall is such a great time to plant in Central Texas or any other area with particularly brutal Summers is that:

  1. It allows the most amount of time before summer hits to get some deeper roots.
  2. Trees and shrubs tend to grow their root system the most when they are dormant so what better time to plant than right before dormant season?!
  3. Getting things planted in the Fall will allow more time/money to focus on maintaining what you have planted in the Spring. By this we are talking about fertilization and giving plants the extra boost, they need before Summer.
  4. Less water requirements… Usually when planting a tree or shrub, frequent watering is essential. Although we can’t avoid it in the Summer, by planting in the fall you can initially save yourself from having to water a ton.
  5. It’s cool and the ground is soft, so it makes for easy digging.

Now that we’ve established the benefits of Fall planting, let’s talk about color. As the seasons change most plants do too, specifically trees. So what trees produce picture perfect Fall color?

Texas Red Oak (Quercus buckleyi):

Red Oak Image

This Oak will grow up to 50ft tall and 30ft wide which is significantly smaller compared to the Shumard Red Oak making it an ideal candidate for a shade tree in smaller areas. It is also native to central Texas and loves a well-draining limestone soil. Although these trees do like some water when we are in droughts, they can handle our extreme temperatures and scorching sun just fine.

Shumard (Red) Oak (Quercus shumardii):

Red Oak Image

This tree can reach 100ft tall and a trunk of up to 3ft in diameter according to the Texas AgriLife Extension. The Shumard Oak is also native to several regions of Texas and prefer fertile, well-draining soil. However, they are widely adaptable and will grow well in most soil types. Like the Texas Red Oak they have a low to medium water requirement.

Willow Oak (Quercus phellos L.):

Willow Oak Image

Can grow between 60–80ft tall and has deep green elongated leaves similar to the Live Oak in appearance however they are deciduous and are closer in growth/care to the Red Oak. They are native to East Texas and prefer moist acidic soils. They are adaptable and are very heat tolerant. They have a medium water requirement, and the leaves turn vibrant yellow before falling.

Big Tooth Maple (Acer grandidentatum):

Bigtooth Image

This tree is arguably one of the most attractive trees in Texas with its amazing color. The Big Tooth Maple can reach up to 50ft tall. Native to the hill country area and loves good limestone soil but are fairly adaptable. With a high heat tolerance and low water requirement this is a great tree to have.

Shantung Maple (Acer truncatum):

Shantung Maple Image

The Shantung Maple is a great midsize tree. Reaching only 20-25ft which is perfect for small spaces! Although it is not a native, it has been designated a Texas Superstar variety and can handle our heat and full sun. It is important to note that until they are established, they can get leaf scorch in the summer, but this will quickly fade away as the tree matures.

Pride of Houston Yaupon Holly (Ilex vomitoria):

yaupon Image

Yaupon Holly is a native of Texas that can handle our conditions with ease. They are normally considered a large shrub but can make a nice tree if pruned properly. The Pride of Houston is an all-female cultivar, guaranteeing berries every season.

This is by far not a full list as there are many other unique and beautiful species out there but these varieties will not disappoint!

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