Soon our area ornamental trees will be displaying their fall leaf color. Maples are preferred by many. There are numerous maples to select from for the landscape. However, some are not well suited to our growing conditions. Early fall coloration because of poor site factors and environmental stress are showing up now.

The true red maple may not be the best choice for your location. It requires a low soil pH which is not common here. Naturally, the red maple grows in moist soil conditions. Damage to the trunk on the southwest side is common which reduces the tree’s vigor. Protection from hot winds is needed to reduce leaf tatter. It can be a challenge to find the best location to meet the needs of the red maple.

There are many maples and other trees with the preferred fall colors that are adapted to our environment. Check out the publication “Shade and Ornamental Trees for Kansas.” It is available online or at the extension office. Trees of all kinds that grow in our given environment are listed.

A couple of sugar maples listed in the publication are called Caddo Maple. The “John Pair” Caddo Maple was selected from trees grown at the K-State Research and Extension Center in Haysville. These maples have excellent heat and drought tolerance along with reliable red leave color in the fall. “Autumn Splendor” is similar but with a broader form.

Shantung Maple is a shorter tree with yellow-orange-red colors in the same leaf in the fall. This fall will be a good time to be out shopping for one or more trees to add to you landscape. Now through late October is good planting time for root development.

For locations where a large tree can be used, oak trees can be a source of fall color. Swamp White, Buckley’s Oak, Crimson Spire and other oaks make good habitat for insects and wildlife along with fall colors.

Join us on Thursday, Oct. 7, for a tree walk around Manhattan’s City Park. We will start at 6:30 p.m. at the northeast corner of the park. J. David Mattox, the Manhattan City Forester, will assist with the program. Wear walking and proper weather attire.

You can find out more information on this and other horticulture topics by going to the Riley County, K-State Research and Extension website at Gregg may be contacted by calling 785-537-6350, stopping by 110 Courthouse Plaza in Manhattan or emailing

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