Our Red Maple Not Turning Red Anymore

Color red

Q: We planted a red maple twenty years ago. In the fall it always turned a gorgeous red. But for the last five years, it has not turned red. The leaves just turn brown and fall off. Is there something we can do to bring the color back?

A: Leaf color depends on the weather, particularly the interplay between night temperatures, day temperatures, rainfall, and the tree’s health. Remember, the red color comes after the leaf stops making green chlorophyll so the red anthocyanin pigments in the leaves can be seen. If fall temperatures are too warm, then the red leaf color is inhibited. Dry weather mutes the color. Additionally, a sudden cold snap will reduce red fall foliage. I don’t think you can do anything specifically except watering during a drought.

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