20 Winning Plants for Fall Color

Bring autumn color to your garden with these top picks.

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Garden Mums

Garden mums carry the season with classic autumn hues of orange, gold, russet and bronze.


As a group, sumacs are native to North America and offer multi-season interest. Brilliant fall foliage and fuzzy red berry clusters that linger through winter make sumacs a go-to shrub for fall and winter color.


Include native beautyberry in your landscape for a one-of-a-kind fall accent: bright purple berries.

Oak Leaf Hydrangea

This shrub to small tree doesn’t disappoint with fiery leaf tints and fading flowers in pink shades.


This annual is versatile in the garden and looks equally enchanting in containers or planting beds. Pansies can even bounce back from light frosts, making them perfect contenders for adding cool-season color.


Continue the purple theme with caryopteris, which opens lavender-hued blooms in late summer and fall. 

Russian Sage

Perennial Russian sage forms drifts of purple atop grey-green leaves.

Goldenrod Adds Bright Color to a Summer Garden

Goldenrod, or Solidago, is a perennial that grows back each year. Its bright yellow flowers add color to a late summer garden. It is often thought to provoke allergies, but goldenrod pollen is innocent of the charge. Goldenrod is attractive to butterflies.

Blue Star Amsonia

Tuck in some blue star (amsonia), to add a textural touch of gold to your planting.

Miscanthus Grass

Don’t overlook ornamental grasses like miscanthus in your fall color plans.

Blue Fescue

Grasses bring motion, texture and often striking seed heads to autumn views.

'Karl Foerster' Feather Reed Grass

If space is tight, focus on a tidy, upright grass like 'Karl Foerster' feather reed grass. Its clumps are topped with wheat-colored seeds in fall.

Fountain Grass

If you like a more flowing appearance, fountain grass comes in a variety of sizes and colors. The soft, bottlebrush-like seed heads enhance fall gardens and bouquets.

‘Morning Light’ Miscanthus

‘Morning Light’ miscanthus also adopts a reddish hue as autumn arrives.

Sugar Maple

Include some trees that develop terrific fall color in your yard. Sugar maple is a classic autumn star with leaves that blaze in shades of yellow, red and gold. 

Red Maple

Red maple also brings on the color—try ‘Autumn Blaze’ or ‘Red Sunset’ for a strong show. 

Japanese Maple

Japanese maples are one of the most versatile trees for any yard, patio or garden. They are loved for their unique leaf shape and brilliant color through spring and fall.

Black Gum

For foliage in brilliant shades of red, orange and yellow, plant black gum, or tupelo, as it’s known in the South. 


Gingko offers a distinctive leaf form that holds a rich gold hue. Just make sure you’re not planting a female tree (the fruit stinks). 

Native Sassafras

Native sassafras has unusual leaf shapes that turn gold, red and purple in fall. You can prune sassafras to have a single trunk or let it sucker to create a thicket.

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