Shrubbery Provides Fall Color

Fall color is most often appreciated in the landscape and undoubtedly trees provide most of the spectacle of fall color. There are numerous shrubs that will bestow fall color to enhance the outdoor living areas in the home landscape.  As summer flowers decline and are damaged by frost, colorful shrubs can extend the outdoor beauty.

Early autumn drives along highways are made particularly attractive by the bright red or native sumac plants that often grow wild along roadsides.  The fragrant sumac or cut-leaf staghorn sumac are suitable as attractive landscape shrubbery.  Cut-leaf staghorn sumac has large, deeply divided leaves, but must have substantial space since it may spread to form a clump.  Fragrant sumac is smaller.  Both are durable and tolerant of very poor soil and sunny, dry conditions.

One of the best known shrubs for fall color is the burning bush.  The normal form grows to be a large bush 15 or more feet high as well as wide.  The dwarf burning bush is a smaller shrub, growing up to about 6 feet and is more suitable for home landscapes.  It makes a good plant for hedges or screens since it is essentially pest free.  Its superior growth and intense rose-ink to red fall color are produced when it is located in full sun, although it is tolerant of partial or light shade.

One of the lesser known plants that provides excellent reddish-purple fall color is the oak leaf hydrangea.  In addition to fall color, this hydrangea produces white flowers in early summer that turn pinkish-purple in mid summer and brown in fall to add a considerable span of landscape interest.  While it tolerates some sun, it may fade and color prematurely under heat stress in such a location.

A group of shrubs that also exhibit some fall color and are good landscape specimens are the viburnums.  These include the American cranberry bush, Korean spice viburnum and several other related species.  All of these will develop red or reddish-purple fall color.  They also have attractive flowers in early spring, some are highly fragrant.

Japanese barberries are common landscape plants and many of the newer dwarf varieties have gained popularity.  Barberries will develop leaves with red-orange to red fall color.  Colored leaves drop fairly rapidly, but after the leaves drop, red berries become more evident and will last well into the winter.  Even the varieties grown for their red foliage in summer will develop the fall color typical to the green leafed plants.

Dogwoods are another group of plants that develop reddish-purple fall color.  The shrub types, such as the red twig or yellow twig dogwood have excellent winter interest.  The bark of these two are colored as the name implies.  In addition to the above mentioned varieties, you can also find fall color in the cotoneaster, witch hazel and some of the spirea cultivars.