Skip to Content Skip to Navigation

Fall Gardens Get No Respect

Shrubs can add great color impact to the fall garden.

Contributors: Jane Beggs-Joles

Shrubs can add great color impact to the fall garden.

Fall gardens get no respect.  Shoppers surge into garden centers each spring, determined to drive winter from the landscape for good.  They continue to show throughout the summer, inspired by a neighbor's mid summer flowers or the need to spruce up the yard for a party.  But fall is often neglected, a few pumpkins and mums scattered about the yard in a token effort to wring some last color out of the landscape before winter's monotone claims the garden.

It's a shame, because fall offers gardeners tremendous potential for color.  There are the usual suspects, burning bush and maples, of course.  Many other landscape plants, however, will reward gardeners with fall color and spring or summer interest, too.  Our native Itea, such as Little Henry ® is an adaptable shrub with loads of butterfly attracting white flowers in summer and brilliant orange fall foliage.

Foliage isn't the only excitement flowering shrubs can offer gardeners in fall.  Many plants are still in bloom as football season begins.  The white summer flowers produced by hardy hydrangeas like 'Little Lamb' are now a rich pink.  Some varieties, like Pinky Winky and 'Limelight' , are particularly vibrant in fall.  Caryopteris are at their peak, rewarding gardeners with rich blue flowers when many perennials are looking shopworn.  Sunshine Blue® II, with its yellow leaves and deep blue flowers, is especially showy.

Berries are another wonderful element of the fall garden.  Some are blue, like Blue Muffin Viburnum.  Some, believe it or not, will range from white to pink to blue - all on the same plant!  That spectacular berry show comes from another native plant, Brandywine Viburnum.  Brandywine has the added benefit of rich burgundy foliage, too.  Wow!

Fall is not just a great season for designing a colorful garden; it's a great time to plant one, too.  It's easy to evaluate an existing garden in the fall, and determine where a plant needs to be replaced or relocated.  Fall is a great time to plant - just be sure to keep your new plants well watered.  It's best to plant early enough in the fall for new plantings to establish some root growth before winter, and consider protecting tender selections with an extra layer of mulch.


Little Lamb' US PP15,395;  Little Henry® 'Sprich' US PP10,988;  Pinky Winky 'DVPpinky' US PP16,166, Can. PBR 2889;  'Limelight' US PP12,874, Can. PBR 2319; Sunshine Blue® II Caryopteris incana 'SMNCVH' USPPAF, Can PBRAF; Blue Muffin® 'Christom';  Brandywine 'Bulk' US PPAF.

Back to Top

Find plants you love and create idea boards for all your projects.

To create an idea board, sign in or create an account.