For a project I need leaves (apple, to be precise) that have turned into their fall colors. The leaves will be pressed later.

Is there a method that creates the color change within a day or two? Or at least a partial change?

I was thinking about placing a branch into the fridge over night and in lukewarm water / a sunny spot during the day. But that's just a stab in the dark based on what induces the change in nature.

  • Please do update to let us know what results you get. I'm curious as well. Alcohol breaks down chlorophyll, so that might be something to experiment with. The one issue I can think of is that the red colors in leaves aren't produced by the tree until autumn. The yellow is there all year round, though. You may find this article helpful: usna.usda.gov/PhotoGallery/FallFoliage/ScienceFallColor.html Good luck! It sounds fun, and again, I'd love to hear how your experiments turn out.
    – wiljago
    Jun 19, 2017 at 19:59
  • I wonder what effect baking the leaves would have - before or after freezing?
    – user3025
    Dec 15, 2017 at 11:39

2 Answers 2


The solution we used was unexpectedly simple, but not truly satisfactory:

We placed short branches with leaves in the freezer and took them out just two hours later. To my surprise, they already started to change color.

They didn’t develop the deep reds they would normally have, but had a distinctive reddish hue. I suppose repeated freezing/thawing cycles could have improved the results, but the minor that was involved in project declared them “good enough”. For a conclusive answer, further experiments need to be done next summer.


I'm not sure if it will work off the plant, but shortening day lengths are a cue. Further contributors to the autumun leaf processes include ethylene which is produce by ripe bananas -- so that might give you something else to experiment with.

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