Trees and Shrubs for Fall Color

October 1, 2018

 

 

Amur Maple
Another top-notch maple for fall color, Amur maple is a small tree or large shrub (depending how you prune it) that bears bright red leaves in fall.
Name: Acer ginnala
Growing Conditions: Sun and moist, well-drained soil
Size: Up to 25 feet tall
Zones: 3-7
Native to North America: No

 

 

Bald Cypress
A "fooled-you" plant come autumn, bald cypress looks like an evergreen conifer. But in fall, the needles turn russet-red before dropping from the tree, revealing the tree's dramatic architectural shape that you can enjoy all winter.
Name: Taxodium distichum
Growing Conditions: Sun and moist or wet soil
Size: Up to 120 feet tall
Zones: 5-10
Native to North America: Yes

 

 

Burning Bush
This tough shrub earned its common name because of its autumn hues: In fall, the foliage turns glowing shades of red and pink. It's a knock-your-socks-off plant!
Name: Euonymus alatus
Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil
Size: Up to 20 feet tall
Zones: 4-8
Native to North America: No
Note: This plant can be an invasive pest in some areas. Check local restrictions before planting it.

 

 

Chokeberry
A wonderful shrub in several seasons, chokeberry offers white flowers that look like apple blossoms in spring; rich red fruits in late summer and autumn; and brilliant orange-red fall foliage.
Name: Aronia arbutifolia
Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade and moist, but well-drained soil
Size: Up to 10 feet tall and 6 feet wide
Zones: 4-9
Native to North America: Yes

 

 

Dogwood
Dogwoods look great just about any time of year. They're most loved for their white or pink springtime flowers, but don't overlook the gorgeous purple-red tones they'll bring to your fall landscape.
Name: Cornus kousa
Growing Conditions: Sun to shade and moist, well-drained soil
Size: Up to 25 feet tall
Zones: 5-8
Native to North America: No

 

 

Fothergilla
A wonderful but underused shade-loving shrub, fothergilla offers blue-green foliage in spring and summer. Its leaves reveal warm shades of gold and orange in fall. And fothergilla has honey-scented springtime flowers to boot.
Name: Fothergilla major
Growing Conditions: Shade and moist, well-drained soil
Size: Up to 6 feet tall
Zones: 5-8
Native to North America: Yes

 

 

Ginkgo
Slow-growing ginkgo adds grace to the landscape; its fan-shaped leaves are among the most elegant of any tree. In autumn, they show breathtaking shades of luminous, golden-yellow. After the leaves drop, you'll be waiting for next fall.
Name: Ginkgo biloba
Growing Conditions: Sun to shade and moist, well-drained soil
Size: Up to 100 feet tall
Zones: 4-9
Native to North America: No

 

 

Japanese Maple
One of the best-known plants for an autumn show, Japanese maple turns on their glowing shades of red, orange, or yellow at season's end.
Name: Acer palmatum
Growing Conditions: Shade to part shade and moist, but well-drained soil
Size: Up to 25 feet tall
Zones: 6-9
Native to North America: No

 

 

Oakleaf Hydrangea
One of our favorite shrubs for shade, oakleaf hydrangea offers beautiful clusters of white blooms in summer, then wonderful burgundy fall foliage.
Name: Hydrangea quericifolia
Growing Conditions: Shade and moist, well-drained soil
Size: Up to 6 feet tall
Zones: 5-9
Native to North America: Yes

 

 

Serviceberry
A plant for season-long beauty, we adore serviceberry for its display of white springtime flowers, delicious summer fruits, and amazing orange and red fall foliage.
Name: Amelanchier canadensis
Growing Conditions: Full sun or part shade and moist, well-drained soil
Size: Up to 20 feet tall
Zones: 3-7
Native to North America: Yes

 

 

Smokebush
Loved as much for its summer purple or gold foliage and plumes of soft, shimmery flowers, smokebush also offers great fall color --- often in bold shades of orange and pink.
Name: Cotinus coggygria
Growing Conditions: Shade to part shade and moist, but well-drained soil
Size: Up to 15 feet tall and wide
Zones: 5-8
Native to North America: No
 

 

Stewartia
This top-notch tree looks beautiful throughout the year. Its dark green leaves make a nice foil for the late-summer, white camellia-shape flowers. In fall, the leaves turn festive shades of orange, yellow, and red.
Name: Stewartia pseudocamellia
Growing Conditions: Full sun and moist, well-drained soil
Size: Up to 70 feet tall
Zones: 5-8
Native to North America: No

 

 

Sugar Maple
A great, extra-reliable tree that makes a big statement in fall, sugar maple offers gorgeous red, orange, or yellow end-of-the-season leaves.
Name: Acer saccharum
Growing Conditions: Sun to shade and moist, well-drained soil
Size: Up to 70 feet tall
Zones: 4-8
Native to North America: Yes

 

 

Sumac
An incredibly tough shrub, sumac provides some of the brightest red color you'll see in autumn. One note, though: While extra-tough and beautiful, sumac is a fast spreader and is not a great choice for small-space landscapes.
Name: Rhus typhina
Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil
Size: Up to 15 feet tall
Zones: 3-8
Native to North America: Yes

 

 

Sweet Birch
A beautiful tree, we love sweet birch for its cinnamon-colored peeling bark and triangular dark green leaves that turn beautiful golden-yellow in fall.
Name: Betula lenta
Growing Conditions: Sun to shade and moist, well-drained soil
Size: Up to 50 feet tall
Zones: 3-7
Native to North America: Yes
 

 

Sweet Gum
Sweet gum's star-shape leaves turn a kaleidoscope of colors -- including red, orange, and burgundy -- giving the landscape a carnival feel at season's end.
Name: Liquidambar styraciflua
Growing Conditions: Sun to shade and well-drained soil
Size: Up to 80 feet tall
Zones: 6-9
Native to North America: Yes

 

 

Viburnum
This rounded shrub offers beautiful clusters of white flowers in spring, then bright foliage in warm shades of red come autumn. Those eye-catching leaves are accented by ruby-red fruits.
Name: Viburnum trilobum
Growing Conditions: Sun to part shade and moist, well-drained soil
Size: Up to 15 feet tall
Zones: 2-7
Native to North America: Yes

 

 

Virginia Sweetspire
Enjoy this great shrub for months. In summer, it offers fragrant white flowers. Then in autumn, it develops rich purple-red leaf color. Plus, it's very easy to grow.
Name: Itea virginica
Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade and moist, well-drained soil
Size: Up to 10 feet tall
Zones: 5-9
Native to North America: Yes

 

 

Witch Hazel
A true plant for autumn, witch hazel leaves turn golden-yellow in fall. As they drop, they're joined by delightful spidery yellow flowers.
Name: Hamamelis virginiana
Growing Conditions: Shade and moist, well-drained soil
Size: Up to 12 feet tall
Zones: 3-8
Native to North America: Yes

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