Home > Great Big Greenhouse Blog > August 2017 > IN THE GARDEN with DOUG - PICKING SHRUBS FOR FALL COLOR


To me, Fall is without a doubt one of Virginia’s most beautiful seasons.  There are many shrubs available and hardy for our region that can provide striking fall color to your landscape.
                I decided to poll the associates at the Great Big Greenhouse on what they consider their favorite shrub for fall color.   I had a good response and a wide variety of shrubs.  A couple of the chosen shrubs were ones that I didn’t think about or just took for granted with their fall color.  I was so glad to get my fellow associates input for this blog.   
                Here is the collection of chosen shrubs:
1. ITEA virginica ‘HENRY’S GARNET”  -  Or, commonly referred to as Virginia sweetspire.  As the name may suggest, Itea is considered a native plant.  Virginia sweetspire is a very dependable and showy plant.  It has long, arching branches that produce long, slender, white flowers in early summer that attract all sorts of pollinating insects.  As our temperatures cool in the fall, a Virginia sweetspire will holds its leaves well into late fall, allowing the maroon, yellow, and orange colors to develop and show off.  Some of the important growing characteristics are:  plant in full sun to partial shade, grows 3 to 6 ft. tall and wide, and it is adaptable to most soil types, including clay.   You can’t go wrong with this plant in your landscape.
2.CAMELLIA sasanqua “FALL BLOOMING CAMELLIA”  -  What a great choice for an evergreen shrub that gives fall color.  With Sasanquas, the color will start in late fall.  Sasanquas grow far more rapidly than the japonicas (spring bloomers), and because they are more resistant to full sun, have many practical uses in the open garden.  Densely-foliaged varieties can be quickly trained as a loose, open screen for hedging or a living privacy hedge.  There are hundreds of varieties of sasanqua camellias.  But, some of the more popular varieties seen around the Richmond area include:  SHISHI GASHIRA, CLEOPATRA, CHANSONETTE, HANA JIMAN, JEAN MAY, KANJIRO, SETSUGEKKA, and YULETIDE.  Yuletide is especially popular around the holidays because it tends to start blooming in late November and early December.  And, sasanquas make a good container plant for those who want color on a porch, balcony, or patio. 
3.HYDRANGEA quercifolia ‘OAKLEAF’  -  The Oakleaf hydrangea gets its name from the shape of its beautiful large leaves.  It is one of the few hydrangeas native to the United States.   For most people, when hydrangea is mentioned they think of the beautiful blue flowers on the hydrangea macrophylla.  When it comes to fall color, the macrophylla family of hydrangea cannot match the beauty of the Oakleaf.  Oakleaf hydrangeas produce long, creamy-white cone-shaped flower heads that appear in early summer and slowly transform to minty-green with highlights of mauve and rose.  In late September, the leaves slowly deepen to a dark rich burgundy and keep their leaves into late fall.  In late fall, the Oakleaf hydrangea is a beautiful sight in any landscape garden.
4.NANDINA domestica ‘FIRE POWER’  -  Fire Power is a dwarf form of Nandina that grows to 2’ tall and wide.  It does not produce flowers or fruit and is grown for its attractive foliage.    I am sure you have seen this shrub planted by business and apartment complexes because of its easy maintenance and the fact that it is drought tolerant and has no serious insect or disease problems.  This evergreen is most noticeable in the fall and winter because of its bright, fire engine red foliage.
5.HAMAMELIS virginiana “COMMON WITCH HAZEL  -  As the name indicates, the Common Witch Hazel is considered a native plant to the area.  The growing habits of this plant is that it needs full sun to part shade and will grow to be 10 to 15 feet tall and just as wide.  So, place this plant in the landscape that will accommodate these dimensions.  Also, the Common Witch Hazel has a yellow flower in the fall and then is followed with beautiful fall leaf color before dropping all its leaves and going dormant for the winter. 
6.ABELIA xgrandiflora ‘KALEIDOSCOPE’  -  Abelia has been a staple plant in our landscape for many years.  Most people are familiar with the common “Glossy Abelia” because of its use in the landscape of business complexes and along roadways.  However, Abelia ‘Kaleidoscope’ came onto the scene about ten years ago.  Just as hardy as its parent plant, but Kaleidoscope has beautiful variegated foliage with green and yellow edges in spring, followed by golden-yellow foliage in the summer.  During the fall the leaves turn into fiery reds, oranges, greens and yellows.  Also, as a secondary bonus to fall interest, it will bloom in the fall.  And, it is evergreen.  Kaleidoscope will grow to be around 2 to 3 feet tall and 3 to 4 feet wide and likes to be planted in full sun to partial shade and is drought and heat tolerant.  And, the flowers do attract butterflies.
Here you have OUR choice of plants for adding fall color. 
Now, here is a list of more great shrubs for fall color that was also considered for this write up.
  1. ILEX verticulata  “WINTERBERRY HOLLY”
  6. RHUS anacardiaceae “SUMAC”
As you can see from our chosen list of shrubs for fall color you have quite a list to work from if you want to plant this fall with a shrub that is noted for its fall color.
                                                                                                HAPPY GARDENING!!
Posted: 8/23/2017 by Doug Hensel | with 0 comment(s)
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