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 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.
Q: I have a large olive tree. One limb partially blocks a path. Is this a safe time of year to remove it? Leslie Swain, email
A: My rule of thumb is you can take off 25% of a tree’s foliage during the growing season and not hurt the plant. So by this rule, pruning would be OK. But I have another rule of thumb that says midfall is not the best of times to prune a tree or shrub. It can affect the plant’s winter-readiness, especially if there’s enough time for post-pruning sprouting to occur. I suggest you practice your limbo moves and wait until December to prune.
Email Walter at firstname.lastname@example.org. Listen to his gardening comments at 6:35 a.m. on “Green and Growing with Ashley Frasca” Saturday mornings on 95.5 WSB. Visit his website, www.walterreeves.com, or join his Facebook Page at bit.ly/georgiagardener, for his latest tips.