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Fall colors for south Louisiana

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Your landscape can include many trees and shrubs that will provide significant color in fall and winter year after year.

Although decidedly less than spectacular this far south, many trees in late November or early December produce leaves that turn various colors as they get ready to drop. A few trees that reliably color up well in Louisiana include: ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba), sweet gum (Liquidambar styraciflua), Chinese pistachio (Pistachia chinensis), Callery pear (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.

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 for birds.

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. 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 Fashion.

We often associate spring with colorful landscapes, but we need to remember that foliage and flowers can be achieved in the fall season with proper plant selection.

For more information, contact Dr. Chris Robichaux, county agent/area horticulturist, St. Martin/Iberia parishes, at 332-2181 or 369-4440.

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