Planting for Fall Color

Leaves aren't the only colorful things in autumn.


Want the colorful splendor of your summer garden to linger until Jack Frost visits? You can set your autumn yard ablaze with more than the palette of falling leaves. Try these two fruity late-season bloomers, and you'll be treating yourself to a kaleidoscope of color that will make you eager for fall's shortened days.

Foliage isn't the only star in autumn's tapestry of color. On Virburnum Opulus Compactum, above right, gleaming red fruits dangle among leaves that shift to brilliant red as fall arrives. The berries hang on in winter, perfect for a shimmering addition to frost bouquets. White blooms blanket the branches in late spring. Big on color, this shrub is small in stature, reaching only 5 feet at maturity.

A great plant for fall color? Ornamental grasses; click here to learn more.

Add an irresistibly festive berry, purple-fruited beautyberry, right, to a shrub or perennial border. It's easy to grow and survives cold blasts to 20 degrees below zero. Pink flowers in late summer give way to purple or white berries tucked among yellow fall foliage. The fruits spread good cheer all winter in the garden or in a vase in the house. For best fruiting, plant several bushes together.

Use our list of autumn showstoppers, below, to cast a colorful spell in your garden. With plants in shades you love, you might find that fall is your favorite garden season. Check with local nurseries to learn hardiness in your area.

Plant Name: Achillea (yarrow) Description: perennial; gold, pink, white flowers Where to grow for best effect: needs full sun; plant in drifts for meadow effect; dries well

Plant Name: Ceratostigma Description: blue-flowered perennial; red leaves in fall Where to grow for best effect: use as ground cover; perfect planted over bulbs

Plant Name: Helenium Description: perennial; daisylike; rich tones Where to grow for best effect: place toward back of border; pair with Autumn Joy sedum

Plant Name: Goodness Grows Description: deep blue blooms May to October Where to grow for best effect: pair with pink dianthus and coreopsis for season-long color

Plant Name: Cimicifuga simplex Description: 3-foot perennial; white bottlebrush plumes Where to grow for best effect: sun/part shade; green fruits follow blooms in October

Plant Name: Spodiopogon sibericus Description: spike grass; bamboolike; burgundy in fall Where to grow for best effect: hits 3 feet in sun or part shade; pair with asters, artemisia

Plant Name: Celastrus (bittersweet) Description: deciduous vine; orange-red berries in fall Where to grow for best effect: full sun for most berries; need male and female plants for fruit

Plant Name: Serviceberry Description: deciduous shrub to 25-foot tree; red leaves fall Where to grow for best effect: sun for best fall color; white flowers spring; red berries fall

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