7 Colorful Fall Trees With Beautiful Foliage | Autumn Leaves

As summer begins its seasonal rotation toward autumn, nature puts on a spectacular show to celebrate the passing season’s bounty and floral color. A fiery display of crimson, gold, and purple set the earth’s landscape aglow.

As a wondrous phenomenon that dependably reoccurs every year, regions with these vast, geographical displays have become an enchanting tourist destination. 

These beautiful autumn shows don’t have to be limited to forests and parks. This captivating color change can easily be incorporated into the view right outside your window, just by introducing fall trees into your landscape design. 

Colorful Fall Trees 

We’re all familiar with this grand display in autumn. But, did you know…

At the end of their life cycle, vibrant, green leaves fade to emblazoned red, orange, and gold as the result of a biochemical process. 

Photosynthesized energy in chlorophyll cells (responsible for green foliage color) reverts back to the trunk and roots for winter endurance. 

As these cells break down, different carotenoids (pigments) are left behind and, when exposed to sunlight, shine in jewel-toned colors to the human eye. 

In landscaping, evergreens can provide shade, protection, privacy, and much-desired, winter interest. Fall trees offer all this, too. Including their exposed structural architecture, in winter, but with the added brilliance of seasonal color changes. Which only serves to enhance the beauty and mystery of our gardens.

The American Red Maple fades from vivid green in the warmth of summer to a deep, lush burgundy as autumn temperatures diminish. While the royal purple smoke bush displays this moody, autumn shade all year long, with wispy, summer blossoms that appear as smoke from a distance. 

The dazzling ginkgo Biloba, with its ‘maidenhair’ foliage, will emerge in your garden, at the end of summer, as a source of vibrant yellow light, just as the sunlight begins to wane. 

Local temperature, light, and precipitation will ultimately dictate the depth of color in each tree. But, with proper care, you can have your own seasonal show of color, right in your own backyard. What other colors in fall trees could you experiment with? 

Trees With Red Leaves In Fall 

Exhibiting shades a bit lighter than those monuments of moody magenta are those trees that have both dark red and yellow carotenoids in their leaves. The same pigments that are found in carrots and radishes. When the green fades away, these unique landscape pillars alight with shades of bright red. 

A Red Sunset maple or a Chinese pistache can be grouped together with a smaller, Coral Bark Japanese maple or a Sky Tower ginkgo for a simple yet breathtaking seasonal color palette.   

Some of these blazing red fall trees fade ever further toward a gradient of peach and gold as the season progresses. Giving an added dimension of delight to your grouping. 

Trees With Orange Leaves In Fall 

Then, there are those with a pure orange pigment veiled beneath all that summer green. Come September, declining hues from pumpkin orange to pale peach make for dramatic seasonal decor that you neither must put up nor takedown. Yet, make quite the impression on holiday guests and passers-by.

On a clear, brisk day, the playful and sizable Autumn blaze maple can be seen for miles around. While the royal poinciana starts the year with this stimulating color in its large blooms and carries it right through until fall.

Let’s take a more in-depth look at a few more seasonal stunners that may be the perfect fit for your autumn landscape. 

Autumn Blaze Red Maple

Tree Appeal  

Deer resistant and cold hardy, this beautiful hybrid, a cross between the red and silver maples, has dense branching habits that create a solid globe of color in spring, summer, and fall. With an equally interesting architectural form, in winter.  

Tree Size  

The Autumn Blaze maple variety can grow to a substantial size. Up to 50ft in height and 40ft. in width. It’s also a relatively fast grower. When positioning this wonderful choice, be sure to take its maturity size into account.  

Planting Zones  

This imposing maple thrives in hardiness zones 3 through 8, where climates are neither too hot nor too cold. The Autumn Blaze maple will provide your garden with optimal color when planted in full sun and watered infrequently but well.  

Position  

When selecting a planting location, consider the size of this tree in maturity. The site should receive 6-8 hours of sunlight per day. But this tree variety can also tolerate partial shade. Although, its seasonal color may not be as vivid.  

Soil Type  

Due to a robust root structure, the Autumn Blaze maple is relatively tolerant of being planted in heavy soils, as long as it drains well. However, the more fertile the soil, the more vibrant its foliage color, through the seasons.  

Tree Care  

As with most maples, this hybrid requires at least 10 gallons of water per 2.5 cm of the trunk. When needed, a 7-4-4 NPK will support lush foliage growth and general pruning is needed every 3-5 years.

Tulip Poplar

Tree Appeal  

This sculptural tree is duly named for the tri-colored, tulip-shaped blooms it produces in spring and for its soft foliage color, and distinctive seed pods, at the end of summer which can fill the surrounding area with an aromatic scent.  

Tree Size  

This beautiful shade tree can grow to an astounding 90 ft, with a canopy spread of 40 ft, in maturity. An open location is perfect for planting, where you can sit beneath it, on a warm summer’s day, in comfort.  

Planting Zones  

The hybrid Tulip Poplar provides fragrant spring blossoms and variant fall colors in hardiness zones 4 through 9. Yet can tolerate temperatures down to -30F (-34C). Which opens a larger list of geographical locations where this beauty will thrive.  

Position  

Color and flower production depends on how much sunlight the Tulip Poplar gets. Planting in full sun is ideal but it can tolerate at least six hours per day. Less than this will result in stunted growth and diminished foliage color.  

Soil Type  

Like the Autumn Blaze, the Tulip Poplar will tolerate most soil conditions, provided they’re free-draining and have little salt content (making them unsuitable for coastal regions). As an acid-loving tree, it requires a low soil pH, starting at 4.5.  

Tree Care  

Tulip Poplars require five to seven gallons of water per week in order to maintain adequate moisture levels. A single fertilizer application in autumn will increase winter durability and spring growth. Only sparse branch pruning is needed every two years.

Autumn Purple Ash Tree

Tree Appeal  

The Autumn Purple Ash is definitely a show-stopping statement piece, maintaining a beautiful gradient, of deep burgundy to pale gold, longer than most other fall trees. Its relatively compact size and hardiness make it versatile enough to plant almost anywhere.  

Tree Size  

The Autumn Purple Ash is a fast-growing, deciduous tree, with no flowers. It can grow up to 50ft. tall with a 40 ft canopy spread on a single trunk. However, soil quality and light availability will affect its growth rate.  

Planting Zones  

Similar to the flowering poplar, the purple ash thrives in zones 4 through 9 and is adaptable to many different soil conditions and climates. Cold and drought tolerance makes this an easy pairing with the Tulip Poplar in your landscape.  

Position  

Planting this fall tree in full sun, in well-draining soil, will ensure optimal coloration at the end of summer. As well as intricate branch and trunk composition. It can also tolerate a minimum of five hours of sunlight, in northern regions.

Soil Type  

Autumn Purple ash can thrive in most pH levels where the soil is fertile and well-hydrated. Although, they will tolerate heavy rainfall when planted deeply. They do require the soil to have adequate drainage, though. Soggy roots can stunt growth.

Tree Care  

Purple ash trees will benefit from weekly watering, especially in excessively hot weather, to aid in root establishment. If necessary, they will also respond well to 10-10-10 fertilizer and pruning should be done in early spring, every four years.

Ginkgo Tree

Tree Appeal  

Well-known for its medicinal properties, the Ginkgo Biloba imparts a unique architectural form and color with a luminescent, golden glow, just as sunlight is waning. One of the first to change color in autumn, it’s well-suited for urban settings.  

Tree Size  

Autumn Gold is a popular cultivar that can grow to 50 ft x 30 ft, in maturity. It will remain relatively compact in a limited space and is tolerant of urban pollution, making it the perfect choice for homes with less growing space.  

Planting Zones  

This fall tree grows well in hardiness zones 4 through 9. Thriving in both cold and relatively moderate climates. They will struggle, however, in severe winter and desert regions. 

Position 

When planting your Ginkgo, bear in mind that the roots of this tree are far-reaching and fairly deep growing. When planting under its canopy, choose plants with shallow root systems to avoid root conflict. Ginkgo will thrive in full sun but will tolerate a minimum of four hours of sunlight per day. 

Soil Type  

Autumn Gold ginkgo is tolerant of most soil types and pH levels. Yet, prefers sandy or loamy soil that has adequate drainage. Having strong, far-extending roots, ginkgo can also grow in compacted soil, which the roots help to break up.

Tree Care  

New Ginkgo saplings should be watered a few times per week to promote robust root establishment. In maturity, Ginkgo will fare well with ample rainfall, alone. These typically don’t require fertilizing and pruning should be saved for late fall or winter.

American Red Maple Tree

Tree Appeal  

The image of this Brandywine Red Maple, a stalwart along with autumn nature tours, conjures images of grapes ripening on the vine in autumn. Striking scarlet leaves welcome in the season and under certain conditions will turn yellow and orange, too.  

Tree Size  

Burgundy flowers, branches, and foliage can all grow to a towering 120 ft, in the wild. But in smaller, urban spaces, while fast-growing, it stays closer to a manageable 40 ft, with a canopy spread of roughly 30 ft. 

Planting Zones  

Hardier than any other maple variety, the American Red will grow in literally any soil type. From boggy to dry and arid. It’s also resistant to disease and pests, holding up in any weather in hardiness zone 3 through 9.  

Position  

Being native to northern climates, Red maples have adapted to thrive in both full sun and partial shade. With no worry about the kind of soil you have, feel free to plant this beauty wherever it would best suit your landscape.  

Soil Type  

The only environmental preference the American Red maple has is soil pH. This fall tree produces a more vibrant color in an acidic to neutral pH. Low pH soils will inhibit nutrient absorption and cause dull color and stunted tree growth.  

Tree Care  

Brandywine maples require 10 gallons of water for every 2.5 cm of trunk diameter. If necessary, fertilize with a high nitrogen fertilizer to encourage foliage health and color. Pruning should be done in late spring once new leaves are fully developed.

Sugar Maple Tree

Sugar

Tree Appeal  

The Sugar maple is best known for its sweet syrup and is representative of Canada’s national flag. As well as state flags from Vermont and New York. This beautiful hardwood features lush, blue-green summer foliage which glows with orange and peach hues in fall. 

Tree Size  

The Sugar maple needs substantial space to grow, rising up to 74 ft in height with a potential leaf spread of 50 ft. With slow to moderate growth, this fall tree can increase in height by 12-24 in per year.  

Planting Zones  

Potted sugar maples grow best in Hardiness Zones 3–8. Those grown in the ground can tolerate a slightly broader temperature range of -40F (-40C) to 100F (37C). But, special care may be needed during extended exposure to extreme temperatures. 

Position  

Sugar maples should be planted at least 30 ft from homes or other structures to avoid future foundation issues. They thrive in both full sun and partial shade. Underplanting with shade plants only as Sugar maples can block sunlight from beneath.  

Soil Type  

Sugar maples flourish in deep, well-draining, acidic to slightly alkaline soil. They prefer well-hydrated soil but possess moderate drought tolerance. These may struggle in dense clay or otherwise compacted soil and are sensitive to the high salt content in coastal soils.  

Tree Care  

Sugar maples require extra irrigation in dry, hot weather. While fairly drought tolerant, foliage color will dull without adequate moisture. If fertilizing is needed, a well-balanced 10-10-10 NPK will suffice. Pruning should be done mid-summer when sap levels are lowest. 

Silver Maple Tree

Tree Appeal  

The summer color gradient of the Silver maple starts with light green and fades downward to cool silvery shades. Dotted with red, yellow, and silver flowers in spring, this majestic hardwood glides into soft hues of gold and peach in autumn. 

Tree Size  

In maturity, the silver maple can top out at 80ft x 50ft, in domestic locations. In the wild, even larger. With its dense branch structure exhibiting a growth rate of 24” per year, it will offer more shade than most other maples. 

Planting Zones  

The Silver maple can tolerate hardiness zones 3-9 but severe winters can inhibit growth and foliage color. Making this fall tree best suited to hardiness zones 3-8.

Position  

Due to its size in maturity, the Silver maple should be planted 10 ft or more from sidewalks, driveways, structure foundations, and sewer/power lines. While being shade tolerant, it prefers a minimum of four hours of direct sunlight, per day. 

Soil Type  

Given its large root structure and overall size, this imposing hardwood favors constant access to moisture in acidic soil. While it can tolerate a bit of drought, Silver maples are perfect for growing in soggy, open spots where other trees might not thrive.

Tree Care  

If initially planted in a dry spot, water your sapling regularly to encourage healthy root establishment. Given their growth rate, Silver maples aren’t typically in need of fertilizer and they only require pruning if damage or disease occurs.