Looking For A Tree With Red Leaves

beansterApril 27, 2009

Our house is bordered by a forest and we'd like to visually set off the border between our property and the forest line with a row of trees (about 90 ft of length to work with) with a different color than the green forest.

We were thinking about Thundercloud Plums but then read a lot of negatives about them (scales, beatles, short life-span, etc). They would be perfect if not for these issues. A local nursery suggested King Crimson maples but we think the color of the leaves are too dark (more a dark purple than a red). They also recommended Japanese maples but they are too expensive and too slow to grow.

The actual line of planting is east to west so the area is full sun. There are deer in the area but we havent seen them near our property for a couple of years.

So the questions are ...

1) Are the Thundercloud plums really that bad?

2) Are there any alternatives to the Thundercloud plums (reddish leaves and grow in full sun)?

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Dan Staley

Don't do the Norway maple thing and the Thundercloud plums, IMHO, are good for about 10 years then the problems start: weak crotch angles, periodic fruit, aphids, wood splitting, borers, yada. Eck.

Look at Fagus sylvatica varieties, altho large tree, we had a 'Atropunicea' in the town where I practiced in WA state, very impressive tree; there are some reddish lvd crabapples; there are some Prunus cerasifera that have good red in the leaves.

Cotinus coggygria has a couple varieties with red lvs, not that large tho. There is a Cercis canadensis variety that has a reddish leaf, 'Forest Pansy', but a smallish tree.



    Bookmark   April 27, 2009 at 7:23PM
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Cercis canadensis 'Forest Pansy'.

I would not recommend 'Crimson King' maples.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2009 at 7:24PM
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Correct me if I'm wrong but Cercis canadensis is an Eastern Red Bud and those have green leaves, not red. Right?

    Bookmark   April 27, 2009 at 8:03PM
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The 'Forest Pansy' cultivar has purplish leaves. Just google for it.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2009 at 8:23PM
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picea(6A Cinci- Oh)

if your going to plant more than one tree you can also include variegated and yellow trees. Gold Rush dawn redwood has great yellow color and is fast growing. Silver King sweetgum has nice variegation and holds up to some sun well. For purple color the selcted forms of Choke cherry do very well.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2009 at 10:27PM
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Crimson King norway maple is slow to grow as well and rather expensive.

The same goes for the purple beech someone suggested plus they are purple and not red.

Tough one. I think the forest pansy is the best suggestion so far. That and chokecherry.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2009 at 11:37PM
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Dan Staley

IIRC Norway maple in MD and New England are not considered invasive but a 'species of concern' .

I second the chokecherry recommendation.

I thought about including some variegated varieties in my comment above, but from a design standpoint a row of the same thing is more visually interesting and understandable from a psychological and visual standpoint - our brains know how to process the row of red better than a jumbled aspect and thus is more calming and comforting.


    Bookmark   April 28, 2009 at 10:34AM
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Dave in NoVA • 7a • Northern VA

Don't forget Japanese maples.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2009 at 8:14AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

oh man ....

i cant even comprehend a swath of garish red leafed trees in front of the natural beauty of the green forest ... yikes... especially if you went monochromatic with one single red option ...

please obtain and secure at least two adult beverages of your choice... and spouse .. and go sit on the back porch.. and count.. how many colors of green are in the tree line right now ... it is not.. as you suggest.. JUST GREEN ... i would suggest you might get near 25 variations on the color ...

then start thinking about what color would compliment which version of the green .. e.g. .... in front of an area of lime.. you might want a dark green... in front of dark green.. a yellow ...

the point of the exercise.. is to make you understand.. that you are not just working with green and red ...

all that said.. diversify your plantings... never use all of one kind of tree in a landscape..

a visit to a local arboretum would really help you understand the diversity of options you really have ... isnt MD within striking distance of longwood gardens??? .. link below ... the beauty of such a collection.. is that the plants are labeled.. allowing you to name things that are really interesting.. rather than relying on bigboxstore offerings ... i saw my first copper beach there... now i have two .. don already mentioned them ... Fagus sylvatica

and dont miss the tri color version of that tree ... even if it only has two colors ... pic below ... Fagus sylvatica Purpurea Tricolor


ps: the benefit of the adult drinks.. is to make you sit there for an hour.. and really look at it... if a second person is involved.. they get their own two ... lol ..

Here is a link that might be useful: link

    Bookmark   April 29, 2009 at 9:18AM
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I think you should reconsider planting a row of red leaved anything at the forest edge. That would give you a very un-natural look. And also, how many red leaved trees grow in the wild? Very few. And also keep in mind, most red or maroon leaved tree do have some baggage with them. Any version of plum will get destroyed by Japanese beetles. Same for any purple leaved crabapples. Japanese maples are nice, but do require a little TLC occasionally and are better up close to the house with some protection from sun/wind. Forest pansy can be nice trees, but I personally think they need a little late afternoon shade. I see many get burnt up in dry full sun sites. Crimson King maple is just basically a terrible tree.
Post a pic of your site and I'm sure we can come up with numerous combinations of trees that would look good there.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2009 at 9:42AM
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Dan Staley

I used to have a landscape design and const business in CA, and I completely understand where the OP is coming from and I like the idea. Were they my clients I'd try to make their idea happen instead of talking them out of it (and I've talked clients out of ideas and walked away as well).

We are talking about the highly modified urban built environment here, not a reveg site in a Wilderness Area. My opinion.


    Bookmark   April 29, 2009 at 11:24AM
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Don't do Chokecherry. They are very prone to Black Knot. I planted one a year ago in my backyard, and it had Black Knot on it already in just one year. The ones around my city are infested with it.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2009 at 6:13PM
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