Selecting trees that offer great fall color in southern New Mexico

Desert Willow tree in Las Cruces New Mexico

Adding trees to your landscaping is an easy way to go green since they can help shade and block your home from wind, saving you money on your electric bills.

Last month I wrote about the energy efficient benefits of planing trees in this post.  This week local Las Cruces, NM gardening guru Gary Guzman offered this  list of trees that can provide fall color for New Mexico homes in the Las Cruces Bulletin:

The Chinese pistache is one that takes on fall colors of its own. If you are picky about the fall color of a tree, this is one that may be better chosen during the time of year that it changes. This tree can range from red, yellow, orange, pink, burgundy or any combination of the aforementioned. The variation of color can be attributed to the genetics of each individual tree, and the type of soil and fertilizer the tree is provided throughout the year.

Red oaks also have a beautiful fall color.

The shumard, northern red or pin oak will do well if planted in richly amended soil and fertilized with acid forming fertilizer.

In most cases, additional amounts of iron chelate may be needed to keep these oaks thriving in our alkaline soils. If you are willing to do this for these oaks, you will be rewarded with a beautiful healthy green leafed tree in the summer and blessed with its brilliant red foliage in the fall.

Ash trees will also have some fall color.

The raywood ash, which has very dark green leaves in the summer, will take on a gorgeous purple hue during the fall season. The Modesto, Berrinda, Bonita and Arizona ash will generally take on a bright yellow or golden fall color. These trees are very tolerant of our alkaline soils and hot dry summers, so they make excellent trees for the gardener who prefers a low-mainte nance tree.

Ginkgo Biloba offers a very deep golden yellow color on a primitive-looking leaf.

This particular tree grows very slowly and would be very useful in an area with lim ited space. A named variety called autumn gold does not produce the smelly fruit that the non-cultivated tree produces. And yes, this tree is where the memory pill comes from, I almost “forgot” to mention.

The Chinese tallow is another tree that has some beautiful fall color as well. The fall colors on this tree are very striking, ranging from reds and yellows to oranges and pinks. However, this tree, when young, may suffer from some winter damage.

Older, more mature trees can usually with stand some of our colder months with little or no winter damage.

Keep in mind that the amount of cool weather these trees receive before the first hard frost plays a key role in the show of color. The longer our nights stay cool without dipping into well-below-freezing temperatures, the longer our fall show will be. Also, good watering and feeding habits will help contribute to these trees’ full fall glory.

Gary Guzman, owner of Guzman’s Color Your World Gardening Centers, can be reached at

Contact Picacho Mountain today at 888.511.9872 for more information on building your energy-efficient, green home in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Custom Estate Homes, Patio Homes, Town Homes, and Neighborhood Retail.

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