Home > Great Big Greenhouse Blog > October 2016 > IN THE DIRT with DOUG - WHY DO LEAVES CHANGE COLORS


Have you ever wondered why leaves change color this time of year?  And, how boring it would be if all leaves had the same color in the fall. 
                Here we are in mid-October.  We are having a hot spell this week which makes it feel like summer.  But, our leaves are in the fall mode and are just beginning to show some color.
                From a scientific standpoint, during the growing season chlorophyll is the dominant pigment in most shrubs and trees.  And, what we see is green.  Chlorophyll is necessary for photosynthesis.  This is how the plants create their simple sugars and give off oxygen for us.  We should be very grateful.  Without plants we, humans, could not survive.
                In the fall, as the nights grow longer and cooler, chlorophyll starts to die off and lets the less dominant pigments of oranges, reds, and yellows to become more visible.
                Here in Virginia we can be very spoiled by the beautiful fall color.  We have the mountains that we can visit in October to marvel the beginning of the fall color.  Fall colors begin at the highest elevations, where it begins to be cooler earlier than the rest of Virginia and works its way down to the Piedmont region in later October.  Colors in the Blue Ridge are really beginning to show now.
                Our weather can also play a factor with our leaf color.  Warm sunny days and cool nights produce the most spectacular displays of color.  As the leaf veins start to close up to trap more sugars in the leaves, the less dominant pigments actually increase, especially the reds, purples, and crimsons.  Also, when and how much rain we get during the year help to determine the amount of fall color. 
                So, enjoy the beautiful fall weather we are having right now.  Maybe you can take a trip up into the mountains and see the changing of colors in our trees.  Come back home and watch our beginning of fall color.  There is no doubt that fall is here y’all!!
                                                                                                                ENJOYING OCTOBER!!
Posted: 10/19/2016 by Doug Hensel | with 0 comment(s)
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