19 of the Best Trees and Shrubs to Add Fall Color to Your Yard

japanese maple in container
Photo: Carson Downing

The gorgeous warm colors of fall foliage are a bright spot to look forward to each year as the temperatures start to dip. Fill your yard in an explosion of fiery hues without our list of the best trees and shrubs for fall color.

01 of 19

Sugar Maple

Fall foliage
John Williams

This extra-reliable tree that's native to North America makes a stunning statement in fall. Sugar maple offers gorgeous red, orange, or yellow end-of-season leaves.

Name: Acer saccharum

Growing Conditions: Sun to shade and moist, well-drained soil

Size: To 70 feet tall

Zones: 4–8

Buy It: Sugar Maple Tree Bare Root ($35, The Home Depot)

02 of 19

Dogwood

dogwood
Matthew Benson

Beautiful just about any time of year, dogwoods are usually planted for their white or pink springtime flowers. But don't overlook the gorgeous purple-red tones their leaves will bring to your fall landscape. Some dogwoods are trees and some are shrubs, so you can find the best size to suit your landscape.

Name: Cornus

Growing Conditions: Sun to shade and moist, well-drained soil

Size: To 25 feet tall

Zones: 5–8

Buy It: Flowering Dogwood Tree ($35, Lowe's)

03 of 19

Chokeberry

Chokeberry Aronia
Marty Baldwin

A native shrub that shines in several seasons, in spring, chokeberry offers white flowers that look like apple blossoms, rich red fruits in late summer and autumn, and brilliant orange-red fall foliage.

Name: Aronia arbutifolia

Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade and moist, but well-drained soil

Size: To 10 feet tall and 6 feet wide

Zones: 4–9

04 of 19

Stewartia

Stewartia pseudocamellia
Laurie Black

This top-notch small tree looks beautiful throughout the year. Its dark green leaves make a nice foil for its late-summer, white camellia-shape flowers. In fall, stewartia's leaves turn pretty shades of orange, yellow, and red.

Name: Stewartia pseudocamellia

Growing Conditions: Full sun and moist, well-drained soil

Size: To 40 feet tall

Zones: 5–8

Buy It: Stewartia Pseudocamellia Seeds ($4, Etsy)

05 of 19

Ginkgo

Ginkgo biloba
Erica Dines

Slow-growing ginkgo adds grace and valuable shade to any landscape. Its fan-shape leaves are among the most elegant of any tree. In autumn, they show breathtaking shades of luminous golden yellow. This species is one of the few deciduous trees that will drop all its leaves, literally overnight, instead of over several weeks.

Name: Ginkgo biloba

Growing Conditions: Sun to shade and moist, well-drained soil

Size: To 100 feet tall

Zones: 4–9

Buy It: Ginkgo Tree ($45, Etsy)

06 of 19

Amur Maple

Amur Maple
Doug Stremel

Another maple that takes on brilliant fall color, Amur maple is a small tree or large shrub (depending on how you prune it) that bears bright red leaves in fall. It can become a bit weedy, as it produces hundreds of seeds each year, so plant it where you can control the seedlings that pop up.

Name: Acer ginnala

Growing Conditions: Sun and moist, well-drained soil

Size: To 25 feet tall

Zones: 3–7

Buy It: Amur Maple Tree ($35, Etsy)

07 of 19

Sumac

smooth sumac
Adam Albright

An incredibly tough native shrub, sumac provides some of the brightest red color you'll see in autumn. One note, though. While extra-tough and beautiful, sumac is a fast spreader, so it's best to plant it where it has plenty of space.

Name: Rhus typhina

Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

Size: To 15 feet tall

Zones: 3–-8

Buy It: Smooth Sumac Tree ($22, Etsy)

08 of 19

Viburnum

Viburnum trilobum
Peter Krumhardt

Several members of this big group of shrubs offer bright autumn foliage in warm shades of red. A particularly good viburnum species for fall color is native cranberrybush, named for the eye-catching, edible ruby-red fruits that follow white spring flowers.

Name: Viburnum

Growing Conditions: Sun to part shade and moist, well-drained soil

Size: To 15 feet tall

Zones: 2–7

Buy It: Viburnum Shrub ($37, The Home Depot)

09 of 19

Serviceberry

Serviceberry fall foliage
Jim Krantz

An easy-to-grow small tree or shrub (depending on how you prune it), serviceberry starts the growing season off with a display of small white springtime flowers. Next it produces round, berry-like summer fruits that birds and other wildlife relish. Finally, the show concludes with amazing orange and red fall foliage. Even the silvery bark on this native plant looks pretty in winter.

Name: Amelanchier canadensis

Growing Conditions: Full sun or part shade and moist, well-drained soil

Size: To 20 feet tall

Zones: 3–7

Buy It: Serviceberry Plant (from $32, Etsy)

10 of 19

Bald Cypress

Bald Cypress Fall Leaves
Peter Krumhardt

A "fooled-you" plant when autumn arrives, bald cypress looks like an evergreen conifer. But in fall, this large native tree's needles turn russet-red before dropping, revealing its dramatic architectural shape, which you can enjoy all winter.

Name: Taxodium distichum

Growing Conditions: Sun and moist or wet soil

Size: To 120 feet tall

Zones: 5–10

Buy It: Bald Cypress Tree ($44, The Home Depot)

11 of 19

Sweet Gum

Sweet Gum Leaves
Ed Gohlich

The distinctive star-shape leaves of sweet gum turn a kaleidoscope of fall colors, including red, orange, and burgundy, which gives the landscape a carnival feel at season's end. Just be aware, this native tree also produces scads of spiky, round seedpods that can be messy (and prickly for pets and people to walk on) once they drop to the ground.

Name: Liquidambar styraciflua

Growing Conditions: Sun to shade and well-drained soil

Size: To 80 feet tall

Zones: 6–9

Buy It: Sweet Gum Tree (from $3, Etsy)

12 of 19

Fothergilla

Fothergilla shrub
Kritsada Panichgul

A pretty but underused native shade-loving shrub, fothergilla offers blue-green foliage in spring and summer. Its leaves turn warm shades of gold and orange in fall—and fothergilla has honey-scented springtime flowers.

Name: Fothergilla major

Growing Conditions: Shade and moist, well-drained soil

Size: To 6 feet tall

Zones: 5–8

Buy It: Fothergilla Shrub ($22, Etsy)

13 of 19

Virginia Sweetspire

Virginia Sweetspire leaves
Rob Cardillo

This outstanding native shrub puts on an impressive show for months. In summer, Virginia sweetspire offers fragrant white flowers. Then in autumn, it develops rich purple-red leaf color. Also, it's very easy to grow.

Name: Itea virginica

Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade and moist, well-drained soil

Size: To 10 feet tall

Zones: 5–-9

14 of 19

Oakleaf Hydrangea

Oakleaf hydrangea
Jane Milliman

An excellent native shrub for shade, oakleaf hydrangea offers beautiful clusters of white blooms in summer, then rich burgundy fall foliage.

Name: Hydrangea quericifolia

Growing Conditions: Shade and moist, well-drained soil

Size: To 6 feet tall

Zones: 5–9

Buy It: Gatsby Star Oakleaf Hydrangea ($36, The Home Depot)

15 of 19

Witch Hazel

witch hazel bush
Adam Albright

An eye-catching native shrub for the autumn landscape, witch hazel foliage turns a glowing golden-yellow in fall. As the leaves drop, delightful spidery yellow flowers appear.

Name: Hamamelis virginiana

Growing Conditions: Shade and moist, well-drained soil

Size: To 12 feet tall

Zones: 3–8

16 of 19

Japanese Maple

fall container with japanese maple
Carson Downing

One of the best plants for adding fall color to shady areas of your yard, Japanese maple turns brilliant shades of red, orange, or yellow at season's end. These small trees even look interesting after the leaves fall, thanks to the architectural shape of their bare branches.

Name: Acer palmatum

Growing Conditions: Shade to part shade and moist, but well-drained soil

Size: To 25 feet tall

Zones: 6–-9

Buy It: Japanese Bloodgood Red Maple Tree ($50, Home Depot)

17 of 19

Sweet Birch

Sweet Birch Trees
Greg Ryan

A graceful native tree in any season, sweet birch features cinnamon-colored, peeling bark and triangular dark green leaves that turn beautiful golden-yellow in fall.

Name: Betula lenta

Growing Conditions: Sun to shade and moist, well-drained soil

Size: To 50 feet tall

Zones: 3–7

18 of 19

Burning Bush

Burning Bush Euonymus alatus
Adam Albright

This tough shrub earned its common name because of its autumn hues: In fall, the foliage turns glowing shades of red and pink. However, burning bush has become invasive in some regions of the country, so before planting, check to see if it's a problem in your area.

Name: Euonymus alatus

Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

Size: To 20 feet tall

Zones: 4–-8

19 of 19

Smokebush

detail view red leaves
John Granen

Named for its plumes of soft, shimmering flowers, smokebush also offers gorgeous foliage. In summer, this shrub's leaves are purple or gold (depending on variety) and in fall, that already colorful foliage turns bold shades of orange and pink.

Name: Cotinus coggygria

Growing Conditions: Shade to part shade and moist, but well-drained soil

Size: To 15 feet tall and wide

Zones: 5–8

Buy It: Smokebush Shrub ($35, The Home Depot)

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