Top Trees and Shrubs for Fall Color

Smokebush (Cotinus)
Add an explosion of fiery hues to your yard this fall with these trees and shrubs.

Sugar Maple

A great, extra-reliable tree that makes a big statement in fall, sugar maple offers gorgeous red, orange, or yellow end-of-the-season leaves.

Name: Acer saccharum

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

Size: To 70 feet tall

Zones: 4-8

Native to North America: Yes

Dogwood

Dogwoods look great just about any time of year. They're most loved for their white or pink springtime flowers, but don't overlook the gorgeous purple-red tones they'll bring to your fall landscape.

Name: Cornus kousa

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

Size: To 25 feet tall

Zones: 5-8

Native to North America: No

Chokeberry

A wonderful shrub in several seasons, chokeberry offers white flowers that look like apple blossoms in spring; 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

Native to North America: Yes

Stewartia

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

Name: Stewartia pseudocamellia

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

Size: To 70 feet tall

Zones: 5-8

Native to North America: No

Ginkgo

Slow-growing ginkgo adds grace to the landscape; its fan-shaped leaves are among the most elegant of any tree. In autumn, they show breathtaking shades of luminous, golden-yellow. After the leaves drop, you'll be waiting for next fall.

Name: Ginkgo biloba

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

Size: To 100 feet tall

Zones: 4-9

Native to North America: No

Amur Maple

Another top-notch maple for fall color, Amur maple is a small tree or large shrub (depending how you prune it) that bears bright red leaves in fall.

Name: Acer ginnala

Growing Conditions: Sun and moist, well-drained soil

Size: To 25 feet tall

Zones: 3-7

Native to North America: No

Get tips for preparing your trees for winter.

Fall Tree Care Guide

Follow these easy steps to keep your tree looking its best this fall.

Sumac

An incredibly tough 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 and is not a great choice for small-space landscapes.

Name: Rhus typhina

Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

Size: To 15 feet tall

Zones: 3-8

Native to North America: Yes

Viburnum

This rounded shrub offers beautiful clusters of white flowers in spring, then bright foliage in warm shades of red come autumn. Those eye-catching leaves are accented by ruby-red fruits.

Name: Viburnum trilobum

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

Size: To 15 feet tall

Zones: 2-7

Native to North America: Yes

Serviceberry

A plant for season-long beauty, we adore serviceberry for its display of white springtime flowers, delicious summer fruits, and amazing orange and red fall foliage.

Name: Amelanchier canadensis

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

Size: To 20 feet tall

Zones: 3-7

Native to North America: Yes

Bald Cypress

A "fooled-you" plant come autumn, bald cypress looks like an evergreen conifer. But in fall, the needles turn russet-red before dropping from the tree, revealing the tree's dramatic architectural shape that you can enjoy all winter.

Name: Taxodium distichum

Growing Conditions: Sun and moist or wet soil

Size: To 120 feet tall

Zones: 5-10

Native to North America: Yes

Sweet Gum

Sweet gum's star-shape leaves turn a kaleidoscope of colors -- including red, orange, and burgundy -- giving the landscape a carnival feel at season's end.

Name: Liquidambar styraciflua

Growing Conditions: Sun to shade and well-drained soil

Size: To 80 feet tall

Zones: 6-9

Native to North America: Yes

Fothergilla

A wonderful but underused shade-loving shrub, fothergilla offers blue-green foliage in spring and summer. Its leaves reveal warm shades of gold and orange in fall. And fothergilla has honey-scented springtime flowers to boot.

Name: Fothergilla major

Growing Conditions: Shade and moist, well-drained soil

Size: To 6 feet tall

Zones: 5-8

Native to North America: Yes

Virginia Sweetspire

Enjoy this great shrub for months. In summer, it offers fragrant white flowers. Then in autumn, it develops rich purple-red leaf color. Plus, 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

Native to North America: Yes

Oakleaf Hydrangea

One of our favorite shrubs for shade, oakleaf hydrangea offers beautiful clusters of white blooms in summer, then wonderful burgundy fall foliage.

Name: Hydrangea quericifolia

Growing Conditions: Shade and moist, well-drained soil

Size: To 6 feet tall

Zones: 5-9

Native to North America: Yes

Witch Hazel

A true plant for autumn, witch hazel leaves turn golden-yellow in fall. As they drop, they're joined by delightful spidery yellow flowers.

Name: Hamamelis virginiana

Growing Conditions: Shade and moist, well-drained soil

Size: To 12 feet tall

Zones: 3-8

Native to North America: Yes

Japanese Maple

One of the best-known plants for an autumn show, Japanese maple turns on their glowing shades of red, orange, or yellow at season's end.

Name: Acer palmatum

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

Size: To 25 feet tall

Zones: 6-9

Native to North America: No

Sweet Birch

A beautiful tree, we love sweet birch for its 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

Native to North America: Yes

Burning Bush

This tough shrub earned its common name because of its autumn hues: In fall, the foliage turns glowing shades of red and pink. It's a knock-your-socks-off plant!

Name: Euonymus alatus

Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

Size: To 20 feet tall

Zones: 4-8

Native to North America: No

Note: This plant can be an invasive pest in some areas. Check local restrictions before planting it.

Smokebush

Loved as much for its summer purple or gold foliage and plumes of soft, shimmery flowers, smokebush also offers great fall color --- often in 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

Native to North America: No

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