For a few weeks each year, we experience the color-changing magic of the seasons as plants and trees turn warm shades of red, orange and yellow before the leaves finally fall before winter. With the arrival of fall comes rustic colors that glow in parks and gardens, leaves that fall from trees, and bright, vibrant sunny days (if we’re lucky). Planting a red-leaf tree or two in your yard is a worthwhile cause and a sustainable way to have a positive impact on the environment. On top of that, you’ll be adding beautiful texture, decorative details and vibrant colors to your garden. In this article, you will learn which are the 5 most beautiful red trees and how you should care for them.
Trees with red leaves – the amber tree
Liquidambar styraciflua is a magnificent tree, especially in the fall when it is covered in sparkling fiery colors such as gold, fire red and amber. Also called an amber tree, it is also very easy to grow and is quickly becoming one of the most beautiful trees in the garden .
In its natural habitat, it grows up to 40 m tall, but when cultivated, rarely exceeds 25-30 m in height. The crown initially grows narrow pyramidal with ascending vertical trunk. When the tree is older, the branches grow out wider so that the crown becomes monotonous. The gray trunk has deep grooves. Young twigs are yellow-green and turn reddish brown. Older branches develop thick gray corky wings that sometimes fall off. Leaves are 5-lobed (sometimes 7-lobed) and the leaf margin is serrated. They are 8-16 cm long and 10-20 cm wide. When the tree is planted in a moist location, the leaves become more purple. The fruit capsules appear after the inconspicuous flowering and remain on the tree until deep into winter.
The amber tree is not resistant to long periods of drought. Because the trunk is almost dead straight to the coronet tip, it makes an excellent avenue tree.
Fan maple: the most popular ornamental maple for the garden
Acer palmatum, or fan maple, is a Japanese maple species that is without a doubt one of the most beautiful fall trees. It is a versatile, decorative, hardy, small tree or multi-stemmed shrub. The 5-, 7- or 9-lobed leaves are red or reddish-purple in spring and again in fall. In between, the color varies from remaining red throughout the summer to sometimes fading slightly with maturity or summer heat and even turning green. The paired, winged maple propellers are red and ripen in early fall. The bark is fairly smooth. Young stems are green to reddish-purple and red, turning gray with age.
Japanese maples prefer slightly acidic, moist, well-drained soil and dappled shade, although too much shade will slow growth and make the color greener. Young leaves need to be protected from strong winds or late spring frosts. It is important to maintain constant moisture and avoid alternating dry and wet periods. This species grows to about 5 to 7 feet tall and just as wide and is ideal for a garden accent or fence of trees.
The East Asian Fire Maple
Acer ginnala is native to northern China and Japan. It received its common name, fire maple, because of its intense red fall color.
The fire maple is a small, slow-growing tree that grows 7-10 m tall at maturity. It thrives in full sun or light shade, tolerates most soil types and has the added benefit of being wind and drought resistant.
Fire maple offers year-round benefits, budding early with large, three-lobed, glossy green leaves and producing yellow-white, fragrant flowers in May that turn a bright red/orange in fall.
The bright red maple
The red maple (Acer rubrum) is a medium-sized, deciduous tree native to eastern North America. It typically grows 10-15 feet tall, with a rounded to oval crown. It grows faster than Norway maple and sugar maple. Red maple is usually found in moist lowlands, floodplains, and moist forests. Newly emerging leaves, petioles, twigs, flowers, fruits, and fall coloration are red or reddish, although the quality of red fall coloration is variable among species plants. Leaves (5 -12 cm long) have 3 triangular main lobes (sometimes 5 lobes, with the two lower lobes largely suppressed) are medium to dark green above and gray-green below. The lobes have serrated margins and sharp points, while the flowers on a concrete tree are mainly male or female or monoecious and appear in late winter to early spring (March-April) before the leaves. Two-winged maple propellers form the fruits of the tree.
A flowering species of the trees with red leaves is the mountain cherry
The mountain cherry (Prunus sargentii) is called the “crème de la crème” of flowering cherries and offers year-round beauty. Pink blossoms adorn the tree in late spring, and the leaves unfurl with a purple or bronze hue that turns a glossy dark green in summer and then red, orange and bronze in fall. The winter landscape can only benefit from its attractive bark.
This fast-growing landscape tree stands out as a specimen in a lawn or landscape bed, but can also work well at the entrance to a subdivision, for commercial landscapes or in the tree lawn area between the curb and sidewalk.