10 BEST SHRUBS FOR FALL COLOR

The colors of the Fall season are dominated by the leaves as they turn from green to orange, red and pale brown. This is most obvious in the trees with their large leaf cover, but the same thing is seen in the garden with flowers and shrubs. This list of the ten best shrubs for fall color has been prepared by David Beaulieu and are described in his article which I found on the landscaping section of the About website.

Injecting fall colors into the landscape is about more than just planting?red maples?and other?trees that display colorful leaves; don’t forget shrubs!?As this Top 10 List will show, there are many?shrubs for fall color?(and some vines), too. Some bear pretty berries, others colorful?leaves. Still others exhibit both.
In this article ten of the best choices (in no particular order) are presented. Criteria for selection include not only autumn display value, but also how much the plant in question has to offer at other times of the year.?The shrubs and vines on this list can be grown in most parts of the U.S. (the average cold-hardiness zone range for them being from?zone?4 to zone 8).
Oakleaf hydrangea (image) is one of the better shrubs for fall foliage. Fall color is red. - David Beaulieu
Oakleaf hydrangea is one of the better shrubs for fall foliage. David Beaulieu

1.? Oakleaf Hydrangea

The?scientific name?for?oakleaf hydrangea?plants is?Hydrangea quercifolia; the latter is a reference to the plant’s leaves, which are shaped something like those of oak trees. These bushes put out white flowers in summer that fade to a pinkish-brown in fall. But the plant’s inclusion on this list is due to its foliage, not its flowers. Its oak leaf-like foliage turns reddish, bronzy-orange or purplish in the fall. It achieves a height of 4-6 feet and a spread of 4-6 feet.
But oakleaf hydrangea goes above and beyond the call of duty, offering visual interest even at times when it has neither flowers nor colorful autumn leaves. This fact is due to its branches, which sport a peeling bark that is, well, appealing (pun intended). Oakleaf hydrangea is thus a great choice for creating four-season interest in your landscape, because it has something to offer year-round.
As with many?examples on this list, while oakleaf hydrangea tolerates a bit of shade, for optimal coloration you should grow it?in full sun.

Image of 'Tiger Eyes' sumac with fall color. - David Beaulieu
The fall color of ‘Tiger Eyes’ sumac is breathtaking. David Beaulieu

2.? Sumac

Sumac?bushes may not be the first thing that comes to mind for providing fall colors in the landscape. In fact, they are?more likely to be considered a weed. This is probably due to the fact that once a plant is identified as “sumac,” homeowners often jump to the conclusion that the plant is “poison sumac.” In reality, poison sumac would hardly ever be found in a front yard, unless your front yard is a swamp — which is poison sumac’s natural habitat. As illustrated in this gallery of?poison sumac pictures, the easiest way to distinguish poison sumac from the non-poisonous type is by comparing their berries.
The colorful leaves of the many types?of non-poison sumac?provide fall colors ranging from reddish or maroon to golden. Two such varieties are staghorn and smooth sumac. The?widespread staghorn sumac?(Rhus typhina) is a relatively tall variety (reaches 18 feet to 35 feet). Smooth sumac is another type widely encountered; its botanical name is?Rhus glabra. This bush can grow to 10 feet tall at maturity. ‘Tiger Eyes’ (picture) is a cultivar with golden leaves.

Fothergilla bush's fall color (image) is enhanced by sunlight. The shrub also blooms. - David Beaulieu
Fothergilla bush’s fall color can be splendid if the shrub receives sufficient sunlight. David Beaulieu

3.? Mt. Airy Dwarf Fothergilla

Dwarf fothergilla?(Fothergilla major?’Mt. Airy’) is a spherical, multi-stemmed shrub with white flowers in spring that carry a fragrant aroma. In fall, the dark green foliage of summer changes to colors of yellow, orange and scarlet. Reaching 6-10 feet?high, the shrub spreads 5-9 feet.?Fothergilla?should be planted in a sunny or partially-sunny location on your landscape; the more sunlight it receives, the better your chances of its putting on a good display in autumn.

See more at About.com
Image source: Peter Stevens
 

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