From the Desk of Ed Hume: Shrubs That Have Attractive Autumn Leaf Color

October 17, 2012 at 12:00 AM Leave a comment

Have you noticed how many shrubs have really colorful autumn leaf color?  Autumn leaf color varies in shades of red, rose, pink, orange, and even bright yellow.  Although most of these colorful autumn leaf plants lose their leaves, there are a few like nandina and some azaleas that are evergreen.  Right now, when autumn leaf color is best, is the time to select and plant them.  Here are a few of my favorites:

NANDINA – Several varieties like Gulf Stream, Moon Bay Plum Passion, and Woods dwarf have striking autumn leaf color.  My two favorites are Moon Bay and Woods dwarf nandina.  We have five nandina Moon Bay in our garden and a couple Woods dwarf.  We think they’re attractive and colorful year-round, but they’re especially so in the fall and winter.  Moon Bay grows about 2 feet high and Woods dwarf grows only about 18 inches tall.  Plant them in full sun for best color.

HINO CRIMSON AZALEA – This evergreen variety of azalea has brilliant red leaves during the autumn and all winter.  In spring the plants are covered with attractive, brilliant crimson red flowers.  This variety is quite hardy, and in cool climates it will tolerate considerable sun exposure.  Height varies by location, but usually it’s in the 2 to 3 feet range, and a bit higher if crowded.

WINGED EUONYMUS (Euonymus alatus) – This has flaming red autumn leaf color.  This deciduous shrub comes in several varieties that range in height from 3 to 15 feet.  The medium 4 to 8 feet tall varieties are the most popular for home garden use.  When grown in the shade fall color tends to be pink with a tinge of white.  It’s easy to grow; you may have seen them growing in landscape plantings along freeways.

BLUEBERRIES – Yes, I am talking about the berry varieties.  They are really beautiful landscape shrubs and their autumn leaf color is outstanding.  Of course, they are deciduous so you may want to include them in plantings with evergreen shrubs.

GREEN-LEAF JAPANESE LACE-LEAF MAPLE (Acer dissectum viridis) – There are several varieties, but most grow about 6 to 8 feet high and wide.  Autumn leaf color varies by variety, from brilliant yellow to bright red.  I think these are one of the most over-looked varieties of lace-leaf maples because of their delicate, soft green spring leaf color, followed by its brilliant autumn leaf color.

ENKIANTHUS campanulatus – This has clusters of yellow to orange bell-shaped flowers in late spring.  Autumn leaf color is brilliant red.  This plant has an interesting, attractive slender, upright habit of growth.  Eventual height can be up to 10 feet.

One of the best vines for autumn leaf color is the Virginia Creeper.  And one of the most colorful large shrubs or small trees are the sumacs.

Most nurseries, garden centers, and plant departments will feature the largest selection of colorful autumn leaf plants at this time of year, so don’t delay!

For additional information on fall gardening, visit our website


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From the Desk of Ed Hume: Fall-Flowering Plants From the Desk of Ed Hume: Laurustinus, an Evergreen that flowers for about six months

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