Southerners welcome those waning days of summer, when blazing heat relinquishes its stranglehold on weary gardens. While traditional fall plants, such as pansies, violas, snapdragons, mums, asters, cabbages, and kale, are reliable methods of injecting color, I seek inexpensive, small (pint or 1-gallon) shrubs I can use to brighten my landscape. Here are some of my favorite plants that offer autumn interest:
Purple-leaf wintercreeper (Euonymus fortunei 'Coloratus') is a low-growing groundcover with purple-red fall foliage. Zones 5-9 Learn more about wintercreeper.
Loropetalum chinense 'Razzleberri' has burgundy foliage year-round with occasional shocking-pink, spidery flowers. Zones 5-9
Rockspray (Cotoneaster horizontalis) produces glossy green leaves that turn red in fall along with bright red berries. Zones 5-7 Learn more about cotoneaster.
Virginia sweetspire (Itea virginica 'Henry's Garnet') contributes brilliant red-purple fall foliage on arching branches. Zones 6-9 Learn more about Virginia sweetspire.
Encore azaleas (Rhododendron hybrids) are a surefire hit. 'Autumn Embers', for example, features reddish-orange blooms that combine well with nature¿s autumn cloak. Zones 7-10
Nandina domestica 'Firepower' doesn't produce berries like the standard form, but it does have beautiful, crinkly, fiery-red foliage. Zones 6-9 Note: Nandia can be invasive in some areas; check local restrictions before plannting it. Learn more about nandina.