Care-free trees: parrotia

Care-free trees: parrotia

With richly gorgeous leaves during spring summer and fall, and little red flowers in the winter, the parrotia tree is an easy way to brighten up any yard. And with its incredibly simple maintenance, owning one has never been easier.


There are some trees that truly shine in autumn’s glory, and the parrotia is one of the best picks for it. Boasting intense red, orange and yellow foliage in the autumn months, the parrotia retains colour into winter with little red flowers.

Dramatic spring and fall foliage

While the parrotia is most sought-after in the autumn months, when its foliage is one of the brightest beauties in the tree family, it emerges from spring as an under-the-radar gem. Its leaves start off as a reddish purple once the snow starts to disappear, then transform to a rich green as the peak of summer’s heat settles in.

But once the mercury starts to dip, the parrotia comes into its full glory, bursting into vibrant shades of scarlet reds, intense oranges and glowing yellows. With older trees, the bark will peel off the branches and trunk to reveal mottled browns, pinks, greens, whites and greys underneath.

Caring for a parrotia

Some trees are finicky to grown and maintain, but the parrotia is not one of them. It’s perhaps easiest to start off with a small tree and take it from there, as parrotias transplant fairly easily. They do best in Zones 4 to 8, so keep an eye on the thermometer to make sure you live in the right kind of climate to grow a parrotia tree.

If you plant it in an area with a good amount of sun and a bit of shade, the parrotia can grow up to 12 metres tall. It only needs an average amount of water. After the first year is up and the root system is well established, you may be able to get away with just letting the rain providing enough moisture for the tree.

Parrotias do like their soil to be ever so slightly on the acidic side, especially when you want their leaves to burst with colour in the autumn. You don’t have to do much pruning with it, just trim off a few wayward branches to keep it neat and tidy. The tree can take care of the rest itself, especially once it starts to reach maturity.

There are few trees that rival the parrotia in terms of colourful beauty and ease of maintenance. If you’re patient with it, it’ll reward you handsomely with gorgeous fall colours from trunk to tip.

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