Planting for Fall Color

Fall color isn't limited to just leaves on trees. Be strategic about which plants appear in your landscaping to take advantage of natural fall color.

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. Use our list of autumn showstoppers 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 before settling on a species.

See our top tree and shrub picks for fall color here.

Viburnum opulus 'Compactum'

Foliage isn't the only star in autumn's tapestry of color. On Viburnum opulus 'Compactum', 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.


Add an irresistibly festive berry, beautyberry, 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.

Learn more about beautyberry here.


Achillea (yarrow) is a perennial with clustered flowers in gold, pink, red, and white. This plant needs full sun, and dries well for arrangements. Plant yarrow in drifts for a meadow effect.

See all the varieties of yarrow here.


Ceratostigma, also known as leadwort, is a blue-flowered perennial. The green leaves of this plant turn red in the fall. Leadwart makes for a lush ground cover, and does well planted over bulbs.


Helenium has daisy-like flowers in rich fall tones. The long-stemmed perennial plant adds height and color to any fall garden. Place helenium as a back border for a bed because of its height. 

Learn everything you need to know about Helenium here.

Goodness Grows

Veronica (Goodness Grows) carries deep blue stalked blooms from May to October. These fall flowers are deer-resistant and drought tolerant. Pair Goodness Grows with pink dianthus and coreopsis for season-long color.


Baneberry (Cimicifuga simplex) is a perennial that grows up to three feet tall. The white bottlebrush plumes are dainty and add crisp color to the garden. In October, the white blooms are followed by green fruits.


Celastrus, commonly known as bittersweet, is a deciduous vine with woody stems. Orange-red berries appear in the fall, adding rich color wherever they are growing. Plant bittersweet in full sun for the most berries.


Serviceberry is a deciduous shrub that can grow to a 25-foot tree. This plant carries white flowers in spring and red berries in the fall. The leaves also turn red in the fall for extra autumnal color.

Learn more about serviceberry here.

1 Comment

  1. In New York State, and I'm sure other areas as well, Bittersweet has become an invasive species. Please don't tell your readers to plant anything as such that a quick search would have uncovered this type of status. Usually, BH&G is on point.

All Topics in Perennials

Better Homes & Gardens may receive compensation when you click through and purchase from links contained on this website.