Top 5 Trees for Fall Color in Southern California

December 7, 2020

I grew up in Northern California, where the seasons show their colors and emotions more boldly than in always sunny Orange County. My childhood was influenced by the crimson colors of the grape leaves in Napa Valley and the trees noting the changing of weather. Fall is an incredibly special season that beautifully changes the landscape and feeling of a space.

When I moved to Southern California, I grew fond of the Christmas lights wrapped around palm trees...but there’s nothing like the nostalgic feeling of changing fall foliage. If you’ve ever truly experienced fall, you know this. 

Luckily, there are a few sneaky ways to introduce fall into SoCal backyards with the help of seasonal trees that do in fact show off their colors. My favorite trees are:  

  • Chinese Pistache (Pistacia chinensis)
  • Maidenhair Tree (Ginkgo biloba)
  • Japanese Maple (Acer japonicum)
  • Lagerstroemia indica (Crape Myrtle)
  • Koelreuteria bipinnata (Chinese Flame Tree)

These trees look just at home in the fall as they do in the summer, with a little more clean up required. Paired with seasonal decorations like hale bales, lanterns, and blankets strewn on your outdoor sofa, think of Southern California as ‘fall light’ ⁠— all the colors and elements that make this time of year so special, without the freezing temperatures!