4 Shrubs for Vivid Fall Colour

As the temperature begins to cool down, foliage on trees and shrubs turn into the warm hues of red, yellow and orange. It’s a beautiful sight along roadsides and in gardens.

Looking to add a new shrub to your garden this fall? Get inspired with these four shrubs that will provide beautiful interest all year to your outdoor space, most notably in autumn.

Staghorn Sumac

This exotic looking shrub produces beautiful crimson fruit in the summer and beautiful autumn colour on its lush, sharp-toothed foliage. Juicy red fruit on the Staghorn Sumac can be 3-5mm across when fully mature. They are covered with granular hairs in cone-shaped clusters on the tips of the twigs; during the winter they provide a valuable source of food for animals.

Staghorn Sumac is very hardy; it grows along roadsides and old fields. Once established they propagate themselves into thickets by their shallow, suckering root system. To prevent spreading, you can surround Sumacs with grass or have them in a shady area.

Not only is this sun-loving shrub native to Southern Ontario, but it also provides food and shelter for birds and mammals such as deer and rabbits. The nectar attracts butterflies. Sumac is an ideal addition to mass plantings, hedges, naturalizing and woodland gardens.

This low maintenance plant is adaptable to most soils including clay which is why it is used in environmental rehabilitation. Any pruning should be done in early spring once the threat of frost has passed.

Here are some other Sumac varieties to admire: Fernleaf Sumac, Tiger Eyes® Cutleaf Staghorn Sumac, and Fragrant Sumac.

Dogwood

Red Osier, Pagoda, and Flowering Dogwood are native shrubs to our region and well known for their crimson red twigs. Dogwoods are a favourite in many gardens due to their medium size (they grow between 20-30 feet) and four-season appeal.

In spring they explode with white flowers; some even produce white fruit on exotic red stems. The blossoms give way to vibrant, bright green leaves in the summer that provide shade.

Dogwoods prefer an area that is well drained and has nutrient-rich soil. Red Osier Dogwoods can tolerate wet soils and survive occasional flooding. In forests, they can be seen growing in the understory of trees so avoid planting in areas that receive full afternoon sun – it can survive in up to 75% shade.

If you are looking for shrubs with variegated foliage, the Silverleaf Dogwood is a beautiful option. It also grows in partial to full sun areas, flowers from late spring to summer, and burgundy branches provide bold contrast in winter.

Pruning Dogwood can improve their vigour and create more structure. Do it in the spring, after the flowers have faded so you do not damage next year’s buds.

Ninebark

Common Ninebark is native to Manitoba, Quebec, Ontario, New Brunswick and even as east as Nova Scotia.

The drought-tolerant qualities make it a highly desired and distinct low maintenance shrub in many gardens that recieves sun to partial shade. From June to July they will flower white/cream to purple/pink flowers. Here are some of our favourite varieties of Ninebark for the garden.

Tiny Wine® Dwarf Ninebark is an excellent option if you are looking for a miniature variety for a small backyard or a tiny space needing some colour (even your containers!)

Rich, dark foliage on Summer Wine®  Ninebark sure knows how to create thrill in the garden. The tall, upright growth makes it an ideal border plant and will produce beautiful pink flowers in spring.

Coppertina® will provide copper orange foliage all season, turning to deep bronze in autumn. Very adaptable to acidic and alkaline soils and can tolerate dry conditions once established. Amber Jubilee ™ is another option if you have a full sun location and desire a Ninebark that will glow with tones of orange, yellow, and gold.

Chokeberry

This shrub is native to Ontario. It is commonly found alongside streams, rocky ridges, or in pinewoods. Due to this plant being able to tolerate a range of conditions, it will grow in various yards.

In summer, the green fruit will begin to appear. By the end of August, bluish-black berries mature. The berries are enjoyed by birds (such as the cedar waxwing) and can be used in jellies, jams or pies. By the time autumn rolls around, orange, red and purple tones cover the leaves and the berries create a beautiful contrast.

Our favourite varieties for the garden include Autumn Magic Chokeberry, Brilliant Red Chokeberry and Iroquois Chokeberry.