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5 Great Shrubs for Fall Color

Red and yellow leaves
Red-flowered vernal witch-hazel is beautiful in autumn.
September 19, 2018


Homeowners can add the reds, golds, and plums of fall to their yard when they select and plant one of these colorful shrubs.

Fall offers advantages for planting many species of trees and shrubs, including these five picks. Shrubs will not only have the opportunity to generate roots before winter, but cooler temperatures are easier on newly-planted specimens than extreme heat. Take care to water regularly and thouroughly after a new shrub is in the ground. Newly-planted shrubs are still establishing their root systems. Check the soil around their roots often to see if it has dried out. 

For questions about these five great shrubs and other tree and plant concerns, reach out to the experts of our Plant Clinic

Bottlebrush buckeye (Aesculus parviflora): A head-turning shrub, bottlebrush buckeye is useful as an understory planting in woodland gardens or as a border plant. A large shrub, it will, over time, grow twice as broad as it is high, so it is best used in large-scale plantings.

Brilliant red chokeberry (Aronia arbutifolia 'Brilliantissima') : This native shrub is known to be tough and dependable and is well-suited for shady, wet sites. The fruit of this upright shrub also attracts a number of bird species, which typically flock to chokeberries in mid to late winter.

Dwarf fothergilla (Fothergilla gardenii): A small and low-growing shrub, dwarf fothergilla grows best in part shade but will grow in full sun with adequate moisture. In addition to beautiful fall color and flowers, this shrub features attractive light brown bark. 

Red-flowered vernal witch-hazel (Hamamelis vernalis f. carnea): A large shrub, the red-flowered vernal witch-hazel is a great addition in all seasons. In late winter or very early spring, the shrub sports flowers with a spicy fragrance that appears in late February and last three to four weeks. Plant it in full sun to part shade for best flowering and fall color. 

Common witch-hazel (Hamamelis virginiana): Common witch-hazel is a large shrub with a picturesque irregular branching form. Tolerant of road salt and clay soil, it performs best in moist, well-drained soil. In addition to leaves, common witch-hazel also grows yellow, strap-like flowers in the autumn.