Subtle Trees: Winter’s Effect on Southwest Florida Trees

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Every year, autumn and winter must inevitably close the curtain on summer … even in the Sunshine State.  In other parts of the country, the autumn months are signaled by red and orange leaves that fill the air with a pleasant yet cloying scent.  As winter comes, the air turns crisp; trees become bare; and it is not uncommon to see cold fingers cupping a hot, steamy beverage. In the near tropical weather of Southwest Florida, however, these scenes are typically reserved for television, movies, and memories.   Luckily, we are not without our own subtle signs of the seasons changing.  In fact, our Southwest Florida trees have their own story to tell.  You just need to know where to look.

Deciduous Southwest Florida Trees

Southwest Florida landscapes contain a variety of trees.  Shade trees, for example, are a common landscaping choice.  These trees provide a beautiful canopy of leaves throughout the year.   As the weather cools, these trees often begin to display subtle signs of autumn and winter.  This is because many Southwest Florida trees are deciduous.  Deciduous trees, unlike their evergreen counterparts, shed their leaves as the seasons change.  In some cases, a mild weather change is all it takes!

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Sycamore at Sunrise in Sarasota, FLTaken in late November, 2017 Photo Credit: Eric Wells
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Red Maple on a Foggy Winter Morning in Sarasota, FLTaken early January 2018 Photo Credit: Eric Wells
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Golden Rain Tree in Bradenton, FL Taken in November of 2017 Photo Credit: Eric Wells

Florida Native Trees with “Fall” Colors

Red Maple (Acer rubrum):

These trees produce “fall colors” from October to March. They are considered an excellent choice for wet areas. They are also very popular.  If you are looking to plant this tree, the UF/IFAS Lee County Extension suggests that you “select trees grown from seed sources in your area.”

Sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua):

A mixed bag, the sweetgum tree produces “fall colors” and loses its leaves from autumn to the end of winter. Unfortunately, this “showy” tree also drops prickly fruit, making it a less popular choice than some of the others we have listed.

Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis):

Another common Southwest Florida tree, the sycamore has a large trunk with exfoliating bark. It begins losing its leaves in October and continues losing leaves well into April.  The sycamore will blanket your landscape in hues of orange and red.  These beautiful leaves are worth the extra upkeep!

Non-Native Trees with “Fall” Colors

Golden Rain Tree (Samanea saman):

While it only sheds its leaves from December to March, this tree provides various colors throughout the year. In September, it blooms bright yellow flowers.  In October and November, this large canopy tree is known to drop its “Chinese lantern” shaped seeds in varying shades of pink.

Tropical Almond (Terminalia catappa):

Perhaps the most popular seaside tree on the western hemisphere, the tropical almond tree displays hues of red in cooler weather. Its leaves begin changing in November.  The most noticeable “fall colors” typically surface in December and January. Unfortunately, this tree is considered a category two invasive species.

This list is a very small collection of Southwest Florida trees that add a touch of autumn or winter to our landscapes.  Sure, Southwest Florida is not likely to end up on any leaf tours, but we can certainly say our trees know how to put on a show.


Winter Care for Southwest Florida Landscapes

Southwest Florida winters are mild, but that doesn’t mean your landscaping practices should stop.  Turf, plants, and trees all need maintenance throughout the year.  Southwest Florida trees still need pruning during the winter months.  As you read above, raking your lawn is a distinct possibility.  Also, in the rare years when we experience a harsh winter, you need to cover your plants to protect them from the unseasonable cold.

No matter what, 1 Stop Landscape Supply is here to help.  Whether you are looking for a place to drop off your yard waste, pruning tools, or even frost jackets and blankets for your plants, we have you covered. If you are looking for tips throughout the year, another great resource is the UF/IAS Extension calendar.  These tips will help you prepare for the changing of the seasons.

Recycle, Recycle, Recycle

Did you know that leaving yard debris in the landfill negatively impacts the environment?  Did you know that there is a better alternative?  That alternative is recycling.  Southwest Florida landscapes thrive from recycled yard debris.  It is used to make compost, topsoil, and mulch!  1 Stop Landscape Supply & Yard Waste Recycling Facility is your “1 stop” for recycling yard debris and picking up landscape supplies.

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