The Leaves Are Turning, But When?

As sunlight decreases and days become cooler, the trees are beginning to prepare for winter.  Winter is a bad time for trees to grow – too little sunlight, too little water, and too much cold.  Trees need to store nutrients (sugars) in their roots as well as water to survive over winter. They also have to rid themselves of parts subject to freezing.  To do this, they shed their leaves.  Shedding leaves go through various processes.  Part of this leaf-shedding involves the tree ceasing the production of chlorophyll, the leaves’ green cells that produce sugar, the food of trees.  As the weather changes and the leaves lose their chlorophyll, newer pigments show up providing a variety of colors of yellow, orange, red, and purple other than the green of chlorophyll cells.

Weather, you might suspect, is a huge factor in tree color change. The ideal weather for maximum color is warm, sunny days and cool nights with temperatures in the 40s and 50s (but not freezing). Other factors can have an influence on color change, as well, such as a mildly wet spring and warm days with adequate rainfall in summer. This weather does not always happen though.  Our weather this year has been far from normal, as we’ve seen.  We had a wet spring, then a drier, almost drought-like summer.  However, what really has been a negative factor was the hotter, record-breaking weather in the last several weeks of September. This has resulted in color cutback in some trees and has delayed pigment color development in others.  The temperature is forecast to become cooler in the upcoming weeks, though.  So perhaps we’ll see some colorful leaves.  Peak color for northern Ohio is around the first and second weeks in October, so look for colorful leaves then.

Have a good tree color viewing this fall!

If you have a question about trees, feel free to contact the Vermilion Tree Commission by contacting Anne Maiden at the Mayor’s Office at or at 440-204-2402.  The Vermilion Tree Commission meets the second Wednesday of the month at the Ritter Public Library at 7:00 p.m.

Kudos to our tree commission chairman, John Hill, for completing his hike of the Appalachian Trail!  After 11 years and 2,189 miles, John finally reached the norther terminus of the trail at Mount Katahdin in Maine.  High five to you!!



One thought on “The Leaves Are Turning, But When?

  1. Although there are a few trees that color here in our mild climate, they are not common because autumn color is not part of our gardening culture. It is more common in Nevada, probably because they maintained their Eastern influence better than we did. When people came here from the East, they were more intent on developing a unique Californian culture, with more broadleaf evergreens and palm trees. We still have sweetgum, pistache, flowering pear and gingko that color no matter what.


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