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Garden Trees With Beautiful Fall Foliage (Plus Growth and Care Tips)

Rachel is a passionate plantsperson, YouTuber and author living in Ireland. She grows a wide range of hardy subtropical and tropical plants.

Learn which trees to plant in your garden for a colorful display in fall.

Learn which trees to plant in your garden for a colorful display in fall.

Colorful Trees in Fall

What better way to appreciate glorious autumn fully than to grow some trees in your garden that will show off the season's gorgeous reds and oranges and yellows to best advantage?

What Trees Look Best in Autumn?

Most deciduous trees produce some autumn colour, but for more resplendent hues, choose varieties of tree that are genetically programmed to give good autumn color, like oaks, dogwoods, hickories and maples. There are loads to choose from, but here are my three favorites.

Each autumn, my Liquidambar styraciflua 'Worplesdon' turns a stunning mix of red, yellow, orange, and even black.

Each autumn, my Liquidambar styraciflua 'Worplesdon' turns a stunning mix of red, yellow, orange, and even black.

1. Sweetgum Tree (Liquidambar styraciflua)

My first selection for you is the glorious sweetgum tree. Even the name of this majestic gem rolls so beautifully off the tongue—liquidambar.

The sweetgum or liquidambar tree produces lobed leaves that turn a mix of red, orange and yellow in autumn. Some leaves even turn a shimmering black. You can often have these different colors all on the same tree.

How to Grow Sweetgum

Grow liquidambar in full sun or part shade. It prefers damp soil, but also grows well in regular garden soil. It needs soil with a pH of acid to neutral. This is a medium-size to large tree that is hardy from zones 5 to 9.

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Parrotia persica, or Persian ironwood, turns gorgeous shades of crimson and gold in fall.

Parrotia persica, or Persian ironwood, turns gorgeous shades of crimson and gold in fall.

2. Persian Ironwood (Parrotia persica)

My second tree is the Persian ironwood, or Parrotia. This beauty has leaves that turn yellow or gold in autumn, with splashes of crimson. Leaves can have splotches of red on them, giving the impression that some sloppy painter has recently passed by.

How to Grow Ironwood

Grow in full sun in moist but well-drained soil. It's not fussy about soil pH. The ironwood tree is a small tree and therefore suitable for a small garden. It's hardy in zones 6 to 9.

Acer japonicum 'Aconitifolius' has feathery leaves that turn a breathtaking red in autumn.

Acer japonicum 'Aconitifolius' has feathery leaves that turn a breathtaking red in autumn.

3. Full Moon Maple (Acer japonicum)

My final tree is the full moon maple. It produces deeply cut, fern-like leaves that turn a burning red in autumn. The variety pictured above is 'Aconitifolium', and it's classified as a large bushy shrub or small tree, so suitable for a small garden.

How to Grow Full Moon Maple

Grow this tree in full sun or part shade. In fact, leaf color is best in partial shade! Grow in moist, well-drained soil with a pH of acid to neutral. It's suitable for hardiness zones 5 to 7.

More Tips for Autumn Gardening

© 2021 Rachel Darlington

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