Tree with bright red flowers

The best trees for autumn colour

  • Remember its ultimate size. Always for a tree of a scale and shape that can be accommodated within the space you have in mind.
  • 12 trees for autumn colour


    Stewartia pseudocamellia Koreana Group

    Beautiful flaking, camouflage-style bark in shades of grey, brown and burnt ochre. Autumn colour ranges from darkest claret to bright orange. Prefers peaty conditions and light shade.
    Height after ten years 3-5m. Ultimate height 12m. Ultimate spread 6m. Hardiness rating RHS H5, USDA 8a.


    Mespilus germanica ‘Westerveld’

    Prefers a sunny position and fertile soil. Green foliage in spring and summer and a coppery orange-yellow in autumn, Don’t gorge on fruit as the seeds are toxic when eaten in large quantities.
    Height after 10 years 4-5m. Ultimate height 5-6m. Ultimate spread 4-6m. Hardiness rating RHS H4, USDA 5a.


    Cornus officinalis

    Yellow flowers in spring and beautiful (medicinal) red fruits in September – October with vivid reddish brown leaves. Prefers dappled shade.
    Height after 10 years 5m. Ultimate height 5m. Ultimate spread 5m. Hardiness rating RHS H4, USDA 8b/9a.


    Heptacodium miconioides

    Fragrant, creamy-white flowers in late summer followed by pink and purple sepals, and bright-yellow leaves. Perfect for city and courtyard gardens, with full sun or dappled shade.
    Height after 10 years 4m. Ultimate height 4-8m. Ultimate spread 2.5-4m. Hardiness rating RHS H5, USDA 7b-8a.


    Styrax japonicus ‘Fargesii’

    Bushy Japanese snowbell with finely pointed leaves that turn yellow and orange in autumn. Can be pruned and kept narrow.
    Height after 10 years 5m. Ultimate height 8-12m. Ultimate spread 4-8m. Hardiness rating RHS H7, USDA 6a.


    Acer cissifolium

    Perfect for a solitary position in not too small a garden. Young shoots are grey, with reddish-brown specks that disappear with time. Matte dark green leaves turn an orangey red in autumn.
    Height after 10 years 6m. Ultimate height 8m. Ultimate spread 10m. Hardiness rating RHS H4, USDA 8b-9a.


    Acer negundo ‘Winter Lightning’

    Acers aren’t very obliging when it comes to pruning, but this box elder is the exception. Its feathery, light green leaves turn a soft brownish yellow in autumn. Prefers full sun in well-drained soil.
    Height after 10 years 6m. Ultimate height 15m. Ultimate spread 12m. Hardiness rating RHS H7, USDA 6a.


    Nyssa sinensis

    Foliage is bronze in spring, dark green in summer and a vibrant red and yellow in autumn. A more compact version of Nyssa sylvatica, this grows well in moist, humus-rich soils. Needs sheltering from cold, dry winds.
    Height after 10 years 4m. Ultimate height 8-12m. Ultimate spread More than 8m. Hardiness rating RHS H6, USDA 7a.


    Cornus kousa ‘Teutonia’

    Slow growing when young, this dogwood will speed up after a few years then slow down again. Beautiful and ornamental with white, flowers speckled with pink, dark red autumn colour and pink fruits. Will succeed in any soil of good or moderate fertility, but dislikes shallow, chalky soils. Suits small gardens.
    Height after 10 years 2.5m. Ultimate height 5m. Ultimate spread 3m. Hardiness rating RHS H7, USDA 6a.


    Acer griseum

    This paperbark maple sheds its shiny orange-brown skin in the thinnest of layers. The leaves produce a firework display of autumn colours, from scarlet pink to crimson red. Will do well in any soil, unless well-drained. Mind planting distance to walls, given its spreading silhouette.
    Height after 10 years 6m. Ultimate height 12m. Ultimate spread 8m. Hardiness rating RHS H5, USDA 7b-8a.


    Prunus serrula ‘Branklyn’

    This slender, upright and round-headed tree has a gorgeous trunk, with shiny coppery brown bark that sheds in paper thin strips. White flowering, with narrow willow-like leaves that turn yellow in autumn. Flowers and leaves pale in comparison to that beautiful glossy bark. Needs full sun.
    Height after 10 years 5m. Ultimate height 8-12m. Ultimate spread More than 8m. Hardiness rating RHS H7, USDA 6a.


    Pterostyrax corymbosa

    The epaulette tree is a moderate to fast grower, with a bumpy brown bark on its – generally multiple – stems. Around May to June it is covered in snowy drifts of fragrant white flowers, which will produce loads of hairy stone fruits in autumn among golden yellow leaves. Requires a good loamy soil and a sunny position. Perfect as a specimen.
    Height after 10 years 5m. Ultimate height 12m. Ultimate spread 12m. Hardiness rating RHS H7, USDA 6a.


    Liquidambar styraciflua

    On chalky soil don’t forget our medium-sized native field maple, which we see lighting up hedgerows in October and November with its bright yellow shades. Also happy in heavy clay or acid soil.
    Height 10m. Spread 7m.


    Sorbus commixta

    Great for late autumn fruits, the Japanese rowan is one of the last to hang on to its leaves and berries, almost into December. On a bright, sunny day the fiery orange autumn colours resemble a bonfire in the garden.
    Height 10m. Spread 7m.


    Carpinus betulus

    This large white ash is one of the first to change colour, with reddish-purple leaf shades, usually around the end of September.
    Height 18m. Spread 12m.


    Nyssa sylvatica

    The tupelo from North America is probably the most popular medium-sized tree to plant by water, for its rich scarlet autumn foliage. It grows slowly.
    Height 20m. Spread 10m.


    • Barcham Trees
    • Bluebell Nursery
    • Deepdale Trees
    • Majestic Trees
    • Kwekerij Arborealis



    • Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, London
    • Westonbirt Arboretum, Gloucestershire
    • Winkworth Arboretum, Surrey
    • Sheffield Park, Sussex

    What Trees Bloom In Zone 3: Choosing Flowering Trees For Zone 3 Gardens

    Growing flowering trees or shrubs may seem like an impossible dream in USDA plant hardiness zone 3, where winter temperatures can sink as low as -40 F. (-40 C.). However, there are several flowering trees that grow in zone 3, which in the United States includes areas of North and South Dakota, Montana, Minnesota and Alaska. Read on to learn about a few beautiful and hardy zone 3 flowering trees.

    What Trees Bloom in Zone 3?

    Here are some popular flowering trees for zone 3 gardens:

    Prairiflower Flowering Crabapple (Malus ‘Prairifire’) – This small ornamental tree lights up the landscape with bright red blossoms and maroon leaves that eventually mature to deep green, then puts on a display of bright color in autumn. This flowering crabapple grows in zones 3 through 8.

    Arrowwood Viburnum (Viburnum dentatum) – Small but mighty, this viburnumis a symmetrical, rounded tree with creamy white blossoms in spring and glossy red, yellow or purplish foliage in autumn. Arrowwood viburnum is suitable for zones 3 through 8.

    Scent and Sensibility Lilac (Lilac syringa x) – Suitable for growing in zones 3 through 7, this hardy lilacis greatly loved by hummingbirds. The fragrant blooms, which last from mid spring to early fall, are beautiful on the tree or in a vase. Scent and Sensibility lilac is available in pink or lilac.

    Canadian Red Chokecherry (Prunus virginiana) – Hardy in growing zones 3 through 8, Canadian Red chokecherry provides year-round color, beginning with showy white flowers in spring. The leaves turn from green to deep maroon by summer, then bright yellow and red in autumn. Fall also brings loads of deliciously tart berries.

    Summer Wine Ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolious) – This sun-loving tree displays dark purple, arching foliage that lasts throughout the season, with pale pink flowers that bloom in late summer. You can grow this ninebark shrub in zones 3 through 8.

    Purpleleaf Sandcherry (Prunus x cistena) – This small ornamental tree produces sweet-smelling pink and white flowers and eye-catching reddish-purple leaves, followed by deep purple berries. Purpleleaf sandcherry is suitable for growing in zones 3 through 7.

    Kerr Crabapple


    This Grafted Kerr crabapple was introduced in 1952, a cross between the Dolgo and Harlson crab apples. This tree produces apples annually, making it one of the best crabapples. Kerr crabapple is 1 ½’’ to 2’’ in size with a slightly tart but sweet taste that’s good for fresh eating. It is very cold hardy down to Zone 3 on standard rootstock with excellent disease resistance to common apple tree diseases. This tree will begin dropping in October and persist on the tree through winter. Kerr is one of the best crabapple options for deer that is sold commercially. Hardiness Zones 3-8.


    All apple trees will be sold between 3-5 feet, typically around 1/2” diameter. Your options are in rootstock either Semi Standard or Standard. These trees are grafted, which is defined as using plant tissue from the original tree and attaching it to the new roots. This essentially gives you an identical tree of the one you see in the picture and description.


    BUDAGOVSKY 118 (Semi-dwarf)

    This rootstock clone is a vigorous, early producer of the Minsk breeding program. B118 is more vigorous than the other clonal rootstocks, but still imparts the high degree of winter-hardiness zone 4a. It tolerates heavy soils, difficult conditions, is well anchored, and does not sucker. B118 will produce a tree that’s 85%-90% of seedling size with a mature height of around 18′. This rootstock as well as other clonal rootstocks will remain in the upper profile of the soil. B118 is excellent when planting into improved soil either in food plots, or if you are looking for a well uniformed orchard.

    MALUS DOLGO (Standard)

    This rootstock is extremely cold hardy down well into Hardiness Zone 3, and is very comparable to Antonokva in many ways. It makes an excellent choice for wildlife trees, because it produces a full size 20’ to 30’ tree. Standard rootstock will develop deep roots making it extremely well anchored, penetrating well into the sub soil pulling up lost nutrients.

    It is adaptable to many soil types and conditions especially well when planting in less desirable locations. This could be used in areas such as wooded food plots, reclaimed land, shale mountain soil, dryer uplands and ridges. This Standard rootstock will also perform very well in improved soil in an orchard style setting. This seedling grown rootstock will have excellent vigor, as I am only grafting onto the most vigorous Malus Dolgo seedlings. For this reason, These trees on this rootstock will run slightly bigger than the trees grafted to Bud 118.


    Plant at least 3 different apple varieties within close proximity to each other to ensure pollination. Grams Gift crabapple makes an excellent pollinator for both standard size apples and crabapples. All apples and crabapples should be planted in moist, well drained soil with a soil pH between 5.8 – 7 with adequate nutrient levels for optimal growth.

    If you have not improved your soil I would recommend mixing 1/2 to 1 ounce of 0 20 20 granular fertilizer in your soil at the time of planting. The first number is the amount of nitrogen contained in the fertilizer. It is very important that the first number is 0 because nitrogen applied directly to the roots of the tree will cause death to your tree. Nitrogen is very mobile in the soil and a small amount can be applied the following year if needed. The 2nd and 3rd numbers are Phosphorus and Potassium. They are basically immobile in the soil and need to be applied at or well before the time of planting.

    A minimum of 6 hours of sunlight is necessary for growth and fruit production. For either rootstock selection, the recommended tree spacing is 20′. Cages of at least 5’ are highly recommended to ensure your deer eat your apples in a few years and not your trees this year!


    Trees can be picked up typically the 1st week in April as weather allows in both our areas. Please Call or message me to make an appointment to pick your trees up. We will generally begin shipping to Hardiness zone 6 (southern states) and further south the 1st week in April as the weather allows me to. For Hardiness zones 5 and colder, I will generally ship the 2nd to 3rd week in April as your weather allows.

    There are numerous reasons to consider planting a crabapple tree. Their ability to help pollinate other fruit trees, the tasty fruit, and their beautiful blooms make them a great asset for your yard or orchard.

    There are other great fruit trees to consider, too!

    JUMP TO:

    • Crabapples in an edible landscape
    • Why you should plant crab apples for the bees
    • Crabapples as pollinators
    • Why crabapple trees are a good small space option
    • The difference between ornamental and edible crabapples
    • Choosing the best crabapple for fruit
    • Are crabapples poisonous?
    • When are crabapples ripe?
    • Do crab apples grow quickly?
    • How long before I’ll have a harvest?
    • Recipes to use your crabapple harvest

    What is a crabapple?

    These fruit trees are related to the standard orchard apple that you’re familiar with, though the fruit isn’t as large (or pretty). These fruits are great for cooking with; use them as you would any other apple variety.

    Consider planting a crab apple tree

    When people look for fruit trees for a small garden, they think of the standard grocery store fruit: Gala apples, Italian Prune plums, freestone Peaches, and a few other familiar fruit.

    Here are five reasons crab apples should be in your garden plans. (And yes, there is no consensus on how to spell crabapple.)

    1. Crabapples are decorative

    My crabapple trees are the first trees to blossom in my garden. They blossom longer than any of my other fruit trees. This gives me a full 3 to 4 weeks of flowering, at a time when the rest of my garden is just beginning to wake up.

    In late summer the red and yellow blushed fruit hangs in bundles from the branches, stunning against the August greenness of the rest of the garden. The leaves hang on till the first killing frost and then change color quickly for a stunning display of gold and yellow.

    2. They are early bee food

    In spring my crabapple trees are abuzz with bumblebees and mason bees. The blossoms of these trees are a banquet for both native pollinators and honey bees. Since the flowering season for crabapples is earlier and longer, it gives those stressed pollinators a reliable food source before berries and other fruit start to leaf out.

    3. Crab apple trees pollinate other apple varieties

    Apple trees require a pollinator of another compatible apple variety to set fruit. Pollen from a crabapple tree will pollinate most apple trees provided that they blossom at the same time.

    Crab apples are so effective at pollinating other apple varieties that old time orchardists would take branches of crab apples in bloom and put them in a bucket of water in the middle of their apple orchards. The bees would visit the crabapple blossoms and then visit the apple blossoms as they opened on the apple trees, improving the fruit set.

    When you are planting apple trees in a new garden, plant a crabapple within 50 feet of your other apple trees to ensure good pollination.

    4. They don’t take up much space

    Crabapples can be huge, sprawling trees, or small garden trees depending on the rootstock chosen. When you are considering one for your small garden, look for one grafted onto dwarf rootstock. Crabapples on dwarf rootstock don’t take up much space.

    Although these can still grow up to 12 feet tall, they can be easily managed in a small garden, with judicious pruning.

    5. Crab apples are edible and dependable

    Can you eat crabapples? Absolutely! They’re perfectly edible.

    In commercial production of apples the crabapple is used merely as a pollinator. Often, these trees are bred only for their blossoms. (You may have noticed that it’s hard to find them at your local farmer’s market.)

    The difference between an ornamental and an edible crabapple is the size of the fruit. Edible varieties have fruit that are about two-inches in diameter, whereas ornamentals have tiny fruit or no fruit at all. Plant a variety with medium to large fruit to get the most from your tree.

    Which variety should you plant?

    My favorite for a small garden is the Dolgo variety. It is one of the earliest to blossom in the spring. The blossom buds on the Dolgo crabapple are deep pink and open to large, showy white flowers. The fruit is medium size — about two inches — with good flavor and a strong red color that is visible in the jelly, the pectin, or the canned fruit. As an early bloomer, it pollinates the early-fruiting, heritage apple trees that I have in my mountain garden.

    I grow it because it is hardy to zone 3 and will produce fruit in my shorter growing season. It has good disease resistance to fire blight, scab, cedar rust, and mildew. You can plant crab apple trees whenever your soil can be worked. Container grown trees, or those sold as “balled and burlapped” can be planted spring, summer, or fall.

    Bare root trees need to be planted in the early spring.

    Frequently asked questions about crabapples

    Are crabapples poisonous?

    No. All crab apples are edible. Some ornamental trees produce small fruit (others don’t produce fruit at all). These tiny fruits are not poisonous and are perfectly edible. However, ornamental crab apple trees have been bred for their beauty, not the flavor of their fruit. Fruit from ornamental crabapple trees can be somewhat bitter.

    If you find an ornamental tree that produces tasty but small fruit, consider using the fruit in recipes that don’t require peeling or coring to save time, such as apple butter or apple jelly.

    Ornamental crabapple trees that drop small fruit can be a good (free) source of food for your flock of chickens as well as food for wildlife. Plant one in their pen and you can enjoy the beauty of blossoms in the springtime and they can enjoy the fruit later.

    When are crabapples ripe?

    In the northern hemisphere, crab apples are generally ripe in the late summer or fall. Many trees have “persistent” fruit, meaning that even when they’re ripe they’ll remain hanging on the tree for a month or more.

    Do crab apple trees grow fast?

    It depends. Some crab apple trees grow faster than others. Ornamental varieties like Purple Prince (purple foliage) and Red Jewel are considered faster growing than others. Generally speaking, you can expect one of these trees to grow one-to-two feet per year.

    How long does it take crabapple trees to produce fruit?

    The climate and conditions in which your tree is growing will dictate how quickly it will fruit, but two-to-five years is a good range to plan on.

    Originally published August 2015; this post has been updated.

    LFS red maple flowers

    The red maple is the first native tree to blossom on Staten Island. From a distance, it’s easy to spot the bright red of the female flowers (at top of photo) and orange-red appearance of the male flowers (below).

    (Clay Wollney)

    Since the last week of March, the woodlands around Staten Island have been developing a reddish tinge, and the color has been deepening as spring advances, reaching its culmination this week.

    Most of this reddish tone is due to the flowers of the red maple. One of the most ubiquitous trees over a wide area of the eastern United States, the red maple is the first tree to flower in the spring over much of its range.

    Upon close examination — a magnifying glass helps — you can observe that the flowers of the red maple are either male or female. The long stamen with pollen-laden anthers give the male flowers a fuzzy appearance. Female flowers have a pistil to catch the pollen and produce the seeds.

    he red and yellow of the male flowers produce an overall orange appearance when seen from a distance, while female flowers are deep red. Bees may pollinate the flowers, the the small petals and exposed stamen and pistils of the flowers allows the wind to blow the pollen from one flower to another.

    Some trees are entirely male while others may be entirely female. And other red maples may produce both male and female flowers on the same tree, but on different branches.

    I’ve noticed that most trees around the island are either male or female. The orange color of male flowers and the red of the females makes it easy to tell the gender of a red maple from a distance.

    But the red maple doesn’t get its name from the bright red flowers that make it so noticeable in the spring. Instead, it comes from the tree’s bright red-colored autumn leaves. And just as it is one of the first trees to flower in the spring, the red maple is one of the first to change its leaf color in the fall.

    Early spring is the time of year for the sugar-rich sap to run upward from the roots to the buds, where the sugar is used to provide both building materials and energy for the new growth. Once the leaves begin the process of photosynthesis, the flow reverses, carrying sugars to the roots, where they will be stored as starch.

    Like its relatives, sugar and black maples, the sap of red maple trees can be used to make maple syrup. The same is true of Norway and silver maples.

    Unfortunately, the syrup changes flavor in an unpleasant way when the flower buds develop. Because it takes longer for black and sugar maple buds to develop, these species have a longer tapping season and are therefore most often used to make maple syrup.

    Native to North America, the red maple ranges from the Canadian Maritime Provinces south to Florida and westward to Texas and Minnesota. The red maple is a highly adaptable tree, capable of surviving in a wider range of soil types, acidity and elevation than any other native tree.

    In wet soils, it grows along with cottonwoods, black ash and tupelo. It is so water-tolerant that red maple is the only tree growing on raised hummocks in some swamps. The tree also grows on upland sites with well-drained soils, where it may be found alongside beech, black cherry and birches.

    In the northern parts of its range, it can be found on ridge tops and dry, sandy soils as well as in moist soils and at swamp borders. In the southernmost parts of its range the red maple is primarily a swamp tree.

    Part of the ability of the red maple to grow in soil of varying moisture content is the way the roots respond as the tree grows. In moist soils the seedlings produce short taproots that grow downward, with many more lateral roots that grow outward near the soil surface. In drier soils the pattern is reversed. Seedlings in dry soil grow a larger taproot which seeks water deeper in the soil. Fewer lateral roots develop in dry soil.

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