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11 Trees & Shrubs to Add Color to Your Fall Landscape

Updated: Sep 13, 2023

We have so many shrubs and trees we love for fall color - both due to their foliage as well as berries! Our list includes what makes it special to us as well as growing details to know if it's a fit for your location.



TREES



1) Sweet Gum - Liquidambar styraciflua

This native shade tree is a wildlife haven! It also displays a mix of red, orange, yellow, and purple foliage - all at once!

  • USDA Growing Zones: 5-9

  • Height: 60-75'

  • Spread: 40-50'

  • Sun Exposure: Full Sun

  • Soil Needs: Tolerant of a wide range of conditions: Acidic, clay, drought, loamy, moist, sandy, well drained and wet - Can handle it all!



2) 'Brandywine' Red Maple - Acer rubrum 'Brandywine'

'Brandywine' is a cross between 'October Glory' and 'Autumn Flame' resulting in a more intense and consistent scarlet fall foliage than any other variety! This variety is also smaller than most maples and makes a great choice for those needing a shade tree on the small side. Painters Greenhouse will also offer 'Autumn Blaze', 'Sun Valley', and 'October Glory' Red Maples during Fall Season - all produce an outstanding display of color, but the below information covers 'Brandywine' only.

  • USDA Growing Zones: 4-8

  • Height: 35-50'

  • Spread: 25-40'

  • Sun Exposure: Full Sun

  • Soil Preference: Moist, well-drained, acidic soil



3) Black Gum aka Black Tupelo - Nyssa sylvatica

Scarlet red foliage in the fall - named “one of the best and most consistent native trees for fall color” by tree expert Michael Dirr. Bluish-black fruit (drupes) present on female trees in September and October, an important food source for migrating songbirds. The honey produced by bees from Black Gum's flowers is highly sought after - 'Tupelo Honey'!

  • USDA Growing Zones: 4-9

  • Height: 20-30' in cultivation (40-70' naturalized). Slow growing, only reaching 12-15' in 10 years.

  • Spread: 12-24' in cultivation (20-30' naturalized)

  • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade

  • Soil Needs: Adaptable - tolerant to wet soils and makes a good addition to low lying landscape. Prefers moist well-drained soils and can tolerate occassionally dry soils (can be found growing in dry upland forests).



4) Serviceberry - Amelanchier x grandiflora 'Autumn Brilliance'

Stunning orange to burgundy foliage in autumn. Edible berries are also ready for harvest (by birds and humans) in late summer/early fall. A hybrid between two native serviceberries - Allegheny and Downy. Considered a large shrub or small tree, depending on the number of trunks allowed to grow. The ones available this fall season are tree form.

  • USDA Growing Zones: 3-8

  • Height: 20-25'

  • Spread: 15-20'

  • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade

  • Soil Needs: Ideally moist, well-drained soils, but can be adaptable



Bald Cypress - Taxodium distichum (photo: arborday.org)

5) Bald Cypress - Taxodium distichum

This native, deciduous conifer's foliage turns a fiery cinnamon/orange color in the fall!

  • USDA Growing Zones: 4-10

  • Height: 50-70'

  • Spread: 25'

  • Sun Exposure: Full sun

  • Soil Needs: Bald Cypress is very adaptable and can handle wet or dry conditions, while also withstanding flooding.




SHRUBS



6) American Witchhazel - Hamamelis virginiana

A native shrub (or small tree) with fantastic fall color and blooms! Leaves are yellow to yellow-orange in fall and fragrant blooms adorn the shrub October through December. A great fall specimen!

  • USDA Growing Zones: 3-8=Height: 15-30'

  • Spread: 15-25'

  • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade - prefers a minimum of 4 hrs direct sunlight

  • Soil Needs: A fairly tolerant plant - grows well in acidic, loamy, moist, rich, sandy, silty loam and well-drained soils - handles a variety of moisture conditions





7) Red Chokeberry - Aronia arbutifolia

A native shrub with orange to bright red fall foliage. Red berries are present in autumn and persist after leaves drop. Berries are enjoyed by birds and mammals, including humans - berries are tart and astringent hence the common name!

  • USDA Growing Zones: 3-9

  • Height: 6-12'

  • Spread: 3-6'

  • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade

  • Soil Needs: Tolerant of wet soils, or soils with occasional flooding. A very adaptable, low maintenance shrub.




8) American Beautyberry - Callicarpa americana

Produces bright magenta berries in fall and lasting into winter. A very low-maintenance and easy to grow native shrub - berries attract over 40 different bird species!

  • USDA Growing Zones: 5-10

  • Height: 6-10'

  • Spread: 6-10'

  • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade - prefers a minimum of 4 hrs direct sunlight

  • Soil Needs: Grows well in acidic, alkaline, loamy, moist, rich, sandy, silt loam and well-drained soils. Drought-tolerant.




9) Hydrangea quercifolia - Oakleaf Hydrangea

A great native Hydrangea to the southeast - one that can tolerate shade! Large oak leaf shaped foliage turns purple, orange, and burgundy in autumn. After leaves drop, exfoliating, cinnamon colored bark is exposed for winter interest. We will have several varieties available this fall in addition to the straight species: 'Munchkin', 'Pee Wee', 'Ruby Slippers', and 'Snow Queen'. You'll be able to find one that fits your landscape!

  • USDA Growing Zones: 5-9

  • Height: 4-8' depending on variety

  • Spread: 4-10' depending on variety

  • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade (does need some sunlight for blooms)

  • Soil Needs: Prefer rich, moist, well-drained soils. Be sure to mulch to help maintain soil moisture.





10) Bluebeard - Caryopteris x clandonensis 'Blue Mist'

Stunning powder-blue and periwinkle blooms all along the stems attract butterflies and bees. This long-bloomer will continue until the first frost! Another great feature about this shrub is the aromatic foliage, which also helps deter deer browsing!

  • USDA Growing Zones: 5-8

  • Height: 2-3'

  • Spread: 2-3'

  • Sun Exposure: Full Sun

  • Soil Needs: Prefers well-drained soil with average to medium moisture. Drought tolerant once established.




11) 'Limelight' Panicle Hydrangea - Hydrangea paniculata 'Limelight'

There are several varieties of Panicle Hydrangea available this Fall Season, but 'Limelight' is one of our favorites! Blooms open to a pale chartreuse-green and age to white. By the time fall comes the blooms age further to a rich antique pink and will eventually dry on the shrub.

  • USDA Growing Zones: 3-9

  • Height: 6-8'

  • Spread: 6-8'

  • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade

  • Soil Needs: Prefers moist, well-drained soil


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