Gardening column: Trees to plant in the Lowcountry for fall color – Charleston Post Courier

Thanksgiving has come and gone and the cooler weather is here, which means it is safe to say that autumn is in full swing. And with the shorter days and colder nights, there still tends to feel like something is missing here during the fall months.

One of the main parts of fall that tends to be lacking in the Lowcountry is the fall color that trees will begin to display and that many others enjoy this time of year. But every once in a while, we are reminded that trees still can put on a show, even if it is in a sea of green pine trees. There are some trees here that can provide a wonderful display of yellows and reds, yet the main issue for us is not just the lack of trees to do so, but the inconsistencies caused by a myriad of factors.

The main reason trees produce fall color is they cease production of chlorophyll, a compound that gives l…….

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Thanksgiving has come and gone and the cooler weather is here, which means it is safe to say that autumn is in full swing. And with the shorter days and colder nights, there still tends to feel like something is missing here during the fall months.

One of the main parts of fall that tends to be lacking in the Lowcountry is the fall color that trees will begin to display and that many others enjoy this time of year. But every once in a while, we are reminded that trees still can put on a show, even if it is in a sea of green pine trees. There are some trees here that can provide a wonderful display of yellows and reds, yet the main issue for us is not just the lack of trees to do so, but the inconsistencies caused by a myriad of factors.

The main reason trees produce fall color is they cease production of chlorophyll, a compound that gives leaves their green color as well as helps the cells absorb sunlight in the process of photosynthesis. There are other pigments present that are produced as well but are covered by the chlorophyll.

When trees cease production of chlorophyll, the green pigment, the green color disappears, and the other pigments begin to show through. Not all trees go through this process, such as our pine species present in large numbers.

What about the trees that do go through this process? Why is the fall color here in the Lowcountry so inconsistent? The two main factors for the fall color production are temperature and day length. Once the days begin to get shorter, the temperature should begin to decrease, especially at night. But unfortunately along the coast, the temperatures remain higher, specifically at night.

With this lack of temperature drop, many trees delay the halt in production of chlorophyll, which in turn delays the fall colors. This, coupled with autumn typically being a dry period of the year, causes many trees to lose their leaves prematurely, which leaves us lacking for that fall show.

All that being said, when we have everything fall (excuse the pun) into place, you will still need to have the trees that will naturally produce the colors we are sorely lacking.

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There are not many trees that provide exquisite fall color, but I wanted to highlight some of the best and, most importantly, the most consistent for this area. The tree most people think about for changing leaves is that of the red maple, Acer rubrum. The red maple, a native maple, does well for the most part in this area and does occasionally produce vibrant red fall color. But there are some issues with health concerns, and for the most part it is not as consistent as one would like.

And then there is the crape myrtle, Lagerstroemia spp. It can produce darker red fall colors but tends to be even more inconsistent due to disease …….

Source: https://www.postandcourier.com/columnists/gardening-column-trees-to-plant-in-the-lowcountry-for-fall-color/article_a033aafe-5215-11ec-a932-eb744198c768.html

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