Choose a tree for its fall hues.
Fall is a beautiful time of year in Tulsa when the trees begin to turn those warm shades of yellow, orange and red. But which trees look and do the best here? What are the proper planting and growing conditions? Here are some of the more popular tree choices to consider, listed by their fall color and followed by some planting and growing tips.
Few insect/disease problems, tough and durable, large size/slow growth
Colorful bark, Dutch elm disease resistant, medium size/fast growth
Some surface roots, large size/medium growth
June blooms, prefers deep, well-drained soil; large size/fast growth
Rich, vibrant color, some surface roots, superior to Silver Maple in vivid color and limb strength, medium size/medium growth
Deeply rooted, Caddo variety preferred, larger tree/slow growth
Spectacular color, great urban tree, adaptable to poor soils, one of the largest oaks/medium growth
Tough and durable for dry,poor soils; medium size/medium growth
Tiger Eye Sumac:
Chartreuse in spring, yellow in summer, scarlet in fall; thrives in poor to average acidic soils, small size/slow growth
Prefers moist, well-drained soils; prefers slightly acidic soils; small size/slow-medium growth
Needs partial afternoon shade and excellent drainage, small size/medium growth
Early fall is the best time to plant most container-grown, balled-and-burlapped, and ornamental deciduous trees, as well as pines. At this time of year, the trees have large energy stores that are used for growing new roots rather than trying to produce leaves and fruit. The tree will then enter the following growing season with a root system better adapted to handling the stresses of summer.
When planting, dig the planting hole two to three times the diameter of the tree’s root ball and no deeper than the root ball itself.
The best backfill around a new tree or shrub is the native soil itself. Without soil amendments — materials worked into the soil to enhance its physical properties — the tree will adapt more quickly and easily to its surroundings.
Ideally, young trees and shrubs should be fertilized annually from March through July, rather than at the time of fall planting. This encourages active growth during the warmer months.
Young plantings should be watered an equivalent of 1 inch or more per week; more so in extremely hot, dry and/or windy weather.
Maintain a 4- to 6-foot, grass-free circle around young trees and shrubs. Each year thereafter, apply 2-4 inches of organic mulch, such as leaf mold, compost, bark, grass clippings or straw. Do not mound mulch up around the tree trunk.
To keep trees upright, stake young trees only as needed using softer material around the trunk and limbs to avoid damage.
Thank you to Tulsa County Master Gardeners for their expertise in this subject matter. Allen Robinson has been a Master Gardener since 2010.
ILLUSTRATIONS BY KATIE VOLAK