Caring for deciduous plants in the landscape isn’t difficult. These interesting shrubs and trees add vibrant blooms in spring and summer, colorful foliage in fall and then drop their leaves prior to a restful winter’s nap. Keep reading to learn more about the life cycle of deciduous plants and what are deciduous trees and shrubs grown for.
What are Deciduous Trees and Shrubs?
Deciduous trees and shrubs are some of the most beautiful elements in the home landscape. They range in size, form and color and shed their leaves each fall before they go to sleep for the winter. The term deciduous is a fitting name for these plants as the word means, “tending to fall off.” Deciduous shrub varieties and trees shed the part that they no longer need to survive for the season.
Many types of deciduous trees add a great deal of interest to the landscape and serve a number of practical roles that include providing shade and reducing soil erosion.
Why Do Deciduous Plants Lose Their Leaves in Autumn?
The life cycle of deciduous plants includes a growing season and a dormant season. Warm spring temperatures and rainfall wake deciduous plants from their slumber and they begin to form new leaf buds. As temperatures continue to warm, the leaves develop more fully and reach maturity by the time summer arrives.
Leaves produce food for the plant and help with respiration. As temperatures begin to cool, deciduous plants instinctively begin to shut down food production and leaves change colors due to the lack of chlorophyll and drop to the ground.
It is due to this stage of the lifecycle that we get to enjoy the spectacular display of color each fall. Cold temperatures and a lack of moisture force deciduous plants into a deep slumber. This dormancy protects deciduous plants from extreme winter weather.
Caring for Deciduous Plants
Fall is the best time to plant deciduous plants as this gives them plenty of time to become acclimated before hot and dry weather arrives. Many deciduous plants including shrubs, fruit and ornamental trees require pruning in order to thrive. It is imperative that you understand the pruning needs of your particular plants so that you can help them reach their full growing potential.
Early spring fertilization also helps give deciduous plants a seasonal boost and often encourages prolific blooms on flowering varieties. Provide plenty of water during dry spells for new deciduous plants and check regularly for pest infestation or disease.
Types of Deciduous Trees
When selecting deciduous trees for your landscape, be sure that you choose varieties that are suitable for your growing region. Although many deciduous trees such as maples, birch, willow, oak and hickory are big, there are a number of smaller or ornamental deciduous trees that make an excellent addition to the home landscape.
Popular flowering trees include crepe myrtle, dogwood and redbud. Fruit trees such as apple, pear, plum and peach make a lovely and tasty addition to any garden and are often available in dwarf size, perfect for those with limited space.
Deciduous shrubs are often planted for their seasonal interest, color and texture. Popular use of many deciduous shrub varieties includes windbreaks, privacy screens or wildlife habitats. Popular deciduous shrub varieties include barberry, butterfly bush, and azalea.