The Best Ornamental Trees & Shrubs for Fall Foliage
Just like annuals bring a burst of color each spring and then go dormant, fall foliage gives the same colorful spark when autumn rolls around. Although they don’t last long, the stunning displays will bring your yard to life. We’ve created a roundup of the best trees and shrubs for fall foliage that you should add to your yard for spectacular fall color.
Fire Power Nandina — This type of nandina shrub is evergreen, so it keeps its foliage all year round. While it shows hints of red in the summer, it becomes fiery scarlet in the fall for long-season color. These shrubs grow well in full sun or full shade and typical garden conditions.
Brandywine Viburnum — For a colorful fall landscape, add viburnum. Its glossy foliage turns dark maroon as the weather turns cooler. It grows white flowers in the spring that erupt into clusters of vivid blue and pink berries in the fall. Viburnum shrubs prefer partial sun to full sun and do best in moist, well-drained soil.
Pyracantha — Known as the firethorn plant, these shrubs grow shiny green leaves all year round. In addition to white flowers in early spring, their fall foliage turns to clusters of orange berries that last through the wintertime. They can grow in sunny, shady, or partially sunny locations. Firethorn can grow in dry or moist soil, but damp areas produce bigger plants.
Holly — These ornamental evergreen shrubs and colorful fall trees produce glossy, foliage all year round, but they come alive with an abundance of their signature red berries as autumn arrives. Holly grows well in partial shade to full sun and is drought- and heat-tolerant.
Burning Bush — Known for its very pronounced red color in the fall, this shrub does well as a border, in beds, or even in fall containers. A burning bush grows well in any light or soil conditions.
Beauty Berry — This ornamental shrub boasts arching branches and pink flowers in the summer, but the real beauty comes in the fall when it produces glossy violet berries from early to late fall. It grows in full sun to partial shade and average to moist conditions. It should not, however, be allowed to dry out.
Fothergilla — Also referred to as Witch Alder, fothergilla shrubs transition from showy “bottle-brush” flowers in spring and blue-green summer foliage to vivid fall colors. These shrubs grow best in slightly acidic soil and full to partial sun.
Oakleaf Hydrangea — This hydrangea species gets its name from its leaves, which look similar to oak tree leaves. White flowers in the summer turn pinkish-brown as the seasons turn, while its leaves turn red, bronzy-orange, and purple in the fall. This is a native North American species that can grow up to ten feet tall in shady to full sun locations.
Crape Myrtle — The showy summer flowers of a crepe myrtle tree fade into colorful fall trees and shrubs. They grow best in full sun and need only moderate watering.
Plant Now for Colorful Fall Foliage
It’s not too late to add colorful fall trees and shrubs to your yard. In fact, the time between late summer and early fall is one of the best times to add new plants to your landscaping. Here’s why it’s preferential to plant in the fall:
- Shorter days and cooler temperatures mean new plants have less need for water and nutrients. Instead of working to maintain moisture and nutrients, more of a plant’s energy goes into establishing roots.
- The warm soil and cooler temperatures that are prevalent at this time of year are a perfect combination for healthy root growth.
- When they avoid the hot temperatures and overwatering that come in summer, there is a reduced risk of root rot developing in new plants.