Many native shrubs provide good fall color as well as interest throughout the growing season. Of course, burning bush and barberry offer nice fall color, but maybe you want to avoid those plants because they can invade natural areas. Perhaps you want showy plants that are not as common as these two?
Want to plant some shrubs to add fall interest? Here are some alternative native shrubs that offer good fall color…
For partial shade:
- oakleaf hydrangea for a mix of red and purple fall color.
- Fothergilla can also tolerate partial shade, offering shades of yellow, red and orange in fall.
- Clethra leaves turn bright yellow, while itea turns shades of red and purple; both can tolerate full sun or partial shade.
For full sun plant:
Photinia is a large shrub, sometimes trained as a tree, that can reach 10 feet high and wide at maturity.
Finely toothed leaves are dark green in summer and is an outstanding sight, with leaves in hues of yellow, orange and apricot , changing to orange-red in autumn. The red fruit is attractive to wildlife. This shrub is not commonly grown because of its susceptibility to the bacterial disease fire blight, so enjoy it in the arboretum but you might choose wisely to not invest in it for your landscape.
Q: A redvein enkianthus is a spectacular red in the autumn garden. How large will this shrub grow, and why isn’t it grown more often?
A: Redvein enkianthus (Enkianthus campanulatus) is truly a spectacular sight in autumn, when its whorled leaves turn bright yellow, orange or red. In spring, delicate clusters of white flowers with pink stripes hang from the branches as leaves unfold. In ideal conditions, redvein enkianthus will grow to between 6 and 15 feet. Because it prefers rich, acid soil in partial shade, this shrub finds a happy home in very few gardens in our area.
Q: Why won’t my hydrangeas bloom?
A: The answer depends on the kind of hydrangea you are growing. Many bigleaf hydrangea cultivars, such as ‘Nikko Blue,’ bloom on old wood, and unfortunately the flower buds are commonly killed by winter cold. The result? Lots of leaf growth, but no flowers the following spring.
Some newer bigleaf hydrangea cultivars, such as ‘Endless Summer,’ bloom on new and old wood, but in my opinion, this plant never lived up to the hype surrounding its introduction. I’m a much bigger fan of ‘Tardiva‘ and ‘Limelight‘ panicle hydrangeas, and ‘Annabelle‘ smooth hydrangea. These are all reliable bloomers and adaptable to an assortment of landscape conditions.
In shady sites, ‘Alice‘ and ‘Snow Queen‘ oakleaf hydrangea are rewarding shrubs.
For smaller gardens, try ‘Pee Wee‘ or ‘Sike’s Dwarf‘ oakleaf hydrangea.
While none of these hydrangeas offers the deep blue flowers so many gardeners desire, they are more reliable bloomers that blend in with many landscape designs.