Q&A: Shrubs for Fall Color

Beautyberry bush with purple berries

Purple Callicarpa Americana

Beautyberry

Beautyberry

Q: Which shrubs are good for fall color?

A: There are lots of options for great autumn color among shrubs. Here are a few:

American beautyberry (Callicarpa americana) becomes a conversation piece in early fall, when its metallic-lavender berries take center stage. White- and pink-fruit cultivars are also available.

Virginia sweetspire (Itea virginica). This small deciduous shrub is typically valued for its fragrant bottlebrush blooms, but it also has great rich-red foliage that often can persist into late fall. Its one big drawback, however, is the tendency to sucker. 

fall-shrub_panicle-hydrangea_s4x3

Panicle hydrangea

Panicle hydrangea

Panicle hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata). The flowers of 'PeeGee' panicle hydrangea start out white in summer, then age to a pinkish blush in the fall. 'Pink Diamond' and 'Quick Fire' turn a deep rosy pink.

Smokebush (Cotinus coggygria). The foliage of this deciduous shrub or small tree turns red, orange or yellowish, depending on type. Get selected cultivars.

Spicebush (Lindera benzoin). In very early spring, spicebush produces tiny but abundant greenish-yellow flowers. In fall, this deciduous shrub turns a rich yellow.

pierisjaponica_fall

Japanese pieris

Japanese pieris



Japanese pieris (Pieris japonica). The lovely evergreen that produces pendulous clusters of bell-shaped flowers in spring also has a fall and winter interest: The reddish buds of next year's flowers appear late in the growing season and remain through winter.

Dwarf fothergilla (Fothergilla gardenii) and large fothergilla (F. major). Bottlebrush flowers appear in spring on both versions of this deciduous shrub, and in late autumn, its foliage goes out in a blaze of oranges, yellows and reds.

Oakleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia). Its reddish, plum and burgundy fall foliage helps make this broad-spreading deciduous shrub into a multi-season plant.

Burning bush (Euonymus alatus). Its brilliant red fall color turned this deciduous shrub into a ubiquitous, overplanted landscape item, but the burning bush's invasiveness in some areas should discourage its use.

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