K-State Research and Extension News
October 05, 2012
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Fall Landscape Colors Largely Depend on Weather

MANHATTAN, Kan. – Fall ushers in many seasonal delights, such as hay rides, apple cider, and pumpkin patches—not the least of which is the deep changing colors of foliage.

K-State Research and Extension horticulturalist Ward Upham said the weather has a significant effect on the vibrance of fall colors. “Cloudy days and warm nights prevent some of the sugar accumulation in the leaves and result in less vibrant colors,” he said. “Warm, sunny days and cool nights are ideal for good color.”

Even weather during the rest of the year can affect fall colors, Upham said. Heavy rains in the spring and a hot, dry summer are damaging to fall foliage.

“The long, hot summer we had certainly makes it more likely that colors will be muted this fall, but fall weather also plays a part,” he said. “If we have warm days with plenty of sunshine and cool nights, we could still have decent colors.”

People disappointed with the fall foliage on their trees can still add dots of fall color to their landscape. Cheryl Boyer, horticulturalist with K-State Research and Extension, recommended mums as a good option.

“Mums come in almost every color imaginable,” she said. “They are also perennials, meaning they will survive most winters and come back repeatedly.”

However, maintaining mums throughout the year takes time. Boyer said she prefers to treat mums like annuals when she’s looking for seasonal color.

She also recommended pansies, kale and asters as other options to add color to the landscape.


K-State Research and Extension is a short name for the Kansas State University Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service, a program designed to generate and distribute useful knowledge for the well-being of Kansans. Supported by county, state, federal and private funds, the program has county Extension offices, experiment fields, area Extension offices and regional research centers statewide. Its headquarters is on the K-State campus, Manhattan.

Story by: Bethany Sanderson
K-State Research & Extension News

Ward Upham – 785-532-1438 or wupham@ksu.edu