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Fall Color in Southern Red Maple Trees

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Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Last week we got out the wool blankets, fortunately I haven’t seen any new holes since I packed them carefully with moth balls at the end of last winter. One of the delights of cooler temperatures besides snuggling under the cover is the colors that we see in nature. As I drive across the Congaree River floodplain, some of the deciduous trees, including the bald cypress, are beginning to show color. Although people go to Maine specially to see the sugar maple trees, our southern red maples are not reliably worth a Sunday afternoon drive to the country. In nature, seedling red maples growing right next to each other may display colors across the spectrum or just turn a dull yellow according to that year’s rainfall and temperatures. Even named cultivars need cool night temperatures to live up to such names as October Glory.

Amanda McNulty is a Clemson University Extension Horticulture agent and the host of South Carolina ETV’s Making It Grow! gardening program. She studied horticulture at Clemson University as a non-traditional student. “I’m so fortunate that my early attempts at getting a degree got side tracked as I’m a lot better at getting dirty in the garden than practicing diplomacy!” McNulty also studied at South Carolina State University and earned a graduate degree in teaching there.