Seeing Red: Trees

Deep burgundy heart-shaped leaves

The summer foliage of a 'Forest Pansy' Eastern redbud. T. Davis Sydnor, The Ohio State University,

Trees are a great way to take the colors in your garden and elevate them, literally and figuratively.

An excellent addition to home landscapes, tree provide shade, increase property values, and possibly even improve your mood. But choosing a tree can be difficult. One place to start is with color — having a color theme is a great way to unify your landscape. If red is part of your planned palate, consider trees that could add to the energizing color scheme.

Here's a selection of trees appropriate for Florida landscapes; each can offer something red at some point of the year.

Red Foliage

Eastern redbud is better known for its striking floral display, but you can find some cultivars boasting lovely burgundy foliage. The cultivar ‘Burgundy Hearts’ may be just what you need to take red to new heights in your landscape. This small- to medium-sized deciduous tree is best suited for North Florida.

In years with ideal autumn temperatures, flowering dogwood can wow you with spectacular red fall foliage. This native tree grows up to 35 feet tall and does best with filtered sun. Its lovely white springtime flowers are followed by crimson berries.

The orange-red leaf of a red maple tree

Red maple foliage.
John Ruter, University of Georgia.

Another native Floridian offering changing fall foliage, red maple is found naturally in wet areas in North and Central Florida, but can be grown in the home landscape with supplemental irrigation. ‘Florida Flame’ has bold red fall color, while the leaves on ‘Summer Red’ are red throughout the year, only turning yellow, orange, or purple just before dropping. Spring brings even more red in the form of flowers adorning your tree.

Shumard oak is a towering native tree, potentially reaching 80 feet tall. It provides shade in the summer and in most years boasts beautiful red fall foliage.

A colorful choice for North Florida, Taiwan cherry is a tree for every season. After a spectacular show of flamingo-pink flowers in January or February, it provides cool shade all summer and small red fruits that attract songbirds. In autumn, its green leaves turn bronze-red. It even offers winter interest with its reddish-brown bark.

Red Flowers

Red buckeye is a small deciduous tree, best suited for North and North-central Florida. In the spring, its tubular red flowers attract hummingbirds. Reaching no more than 20 feet tall, this tree grows best in partial shade. Take note that the seed pods are poisonous to humans, so keep an eye on children around this tree.

Described by many as one of the most beautiful trees in the world, royal poinciana is iconic in South Florida. In summer this massive tree is covered with lovely deep red to orange flowers that resemble orchids. Royal poinciana can reach a mature height of 40 feet—with a canopy 40 to 60 feet wide.

Bottlebrush is easily identified by its distinctive red flowers that attract hummingbirds and pollinators of all kinds. This tree grows up to 25 feet tall and can offer interesting texture to your landscape. Bottlebrush is available in both a rigid and a weeping form.

With so many options—red fall foliage, bright crimson berries, and fun red flowers—you're sure to find just the right red for your landscape.

A delicate, five-petaled orange-red flower

The flower of a royal poinciana tree. Photo: Gitta Hasing, UF/IFAS.

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