Fall color abounds in Louisiana landscapes

Richard Bogren, Owings, Allen D.  |  11/20/2015 11:05:35 PM

Brilliant fall foliage of Chinese pistache in south Louisiana. (Photo by Allen Owings, LSU AgCenter)

Southern sugar maple is a great native tree along with being a Louisiana Super Plant selection. (Photo by Allen Owings, LSU AgCenter)

News Release Distributed 11/20/15

By Allen Owings

LSU AgCenter horticulturist

HAMMOND, La. – You can include in your landscape many trees and shrubs that will provide significant color in fall and winter year after year. Although decidedly less than spectacular this far south, late November and early December are when the leaves of some deciduous trees turn various colors as they get ready to drop.

A few of the trees that reliably color up well in Louisiana include: ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba), sweet gum (Liquidambar styraciflua), Chinese pistachio (Pistachia chinensis), Callery pears (Pyrus calleryana), black gum (Nyssa sylvatica), crape myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica), dogwood (Cornus florida), Japanese maple (Acer palmatum), southern sugar maple (Acer barbatum) and some oaks. Generally, the farther south you live in Louisiana, the less fall color you will see.

Other plants also provide color in fall and fruit in winter. Hollies, with their brilliant red berries, are notable in this regard. Excellent choices for Louisiana include the popular Savannah holly and Foster’s holly (Ilex x attenuata Savannah and Fosteri), both small trees. Beautiful native hollies include the yaupon holly (Ilex vomitoria), deciduous holly (Ilex decidua) and winterberry (Ilex verticillata). A great thing about holly berries is that they are excellent wildlife food.

Shrubby hollies also produce colorful berries. Varieties include Burford, Dwarf Burford, Nellie R. Stevens, Needlepoint, Dixie Star, Dixie Flame and many others.

For flowers in fall and early winter, choose sasanquas (Camellia sasanqua). Sasanquas are one of those indispensable shrubs for Louisiana landscapes and bloom from October well into December. Camellias (Camellia japonica) will begin to bloom in November and continue through winter until spring. Check out the new camellias from the Southern Living plant collection, which includes October Magic Inspiration, October Magic Orchid, October Magic Snow, Pink Stella, Jessica’s Ruffles, Alabama Beauty, Bella Rouge and Diana.

Roses are also important for fall and early winter color. Everblooming roses put on a wonderful show in October and November and will often continue to bloom through mid-December and beyond – weather permitting.

Although generally not known for their fall blooming, azaleas that bloom during seasons other than spring are becoming more popular. The Encore azalea series is well known for fall bloom. Also notable are some of the Robin Hill azaleas such as Watchet and Conversation Piece and the popular Glen Dale variety called Fashion.

We often associate spring with colorful landscapes, but we need to remember that we can have vibrant foliage and flowers in fall with proper plant selection. Many plants providing fall color are included in the Margie Jenkins Azalea Garden and the Piney Woods Garden at the LSU AgCenter Hammond Research Station.

You can see more about work being done in landscape horticulture by visiting the Hammond Research Station website. Also, like us on Facebook. You can find an abundance of landscape information for both home gardeners and industry professionals at both sites.

Rick Bogren

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