Lawns, Gardens & Trees


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A leaf of a different color

Most leaves are green during the growing season. Leaves that are off-color are often showing signs of some type of stress. However, that's not always the case, as seen in these photos.

Leaves normally change color in the fall – we all know this.  If leaves begin to change color in the summer, that’s usually not a good sign.  Insects, diseases, nutrient deficiencies, environmental stresses – or some combination of these – can all cause leaves to turn yellow, brown or other colors during the growing season.

However, some trees and shrubs are supposed to have two-toned leaves during the growing season.  On other trees, you may see individual leaves of one color, and other (individual) leaves of a different color.  In some cases, that’s okay!  See the pics below.

-Joe Zeleznik


‘Schubert’ chokecherry – ‘Schubert’ chokecherry (a.k.a. ‘Canada Red’ chokecherry) is valued for its purple foliage during the growing season and bright red fall color.  The bright green leaves at the tip of this branch are a new flush of growth appearing in mid-season, and they will turn purple in one to two weeks.  This variety of chokecherry is native to North Dakota and is extremely hardy.  Suckering from the roots may cause problems.

Newly formed Schubert chokecherry leaves, showing green color, before changing to a purple tone.

Poplars –This hybrid poplar produces leaves that start off with a purple hue which then change to green – just the opposite of the Schubert chokecherry.  There are many poplar trees that are either native to North Dakota or adapted to the environment here.  Most poplars grow quickly but die young – especially the hybrids.  This can be handy when establishing a windbreak, as the poplars can provide immediate protection while the more-permanent trees establish slowly.

Newly formed leaves of a hybrid poplar show a purple hue, changing later to green.

Ivory Halo dogwood – This species has variegated leaves.  That is, the leaves are naturally two-toned.  There are many other trees and shrubs that are variegated, but finding ones that are tough enough to handle the North Dakota environment can be difficult.  Ivory Halo is hardy to Zone 3, and it does best in protected areas with good soil moisture. 

Two-toned, variegated leaves of Ivory Halo dogwood.

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