Fall plants and their bright colours are universally adored. Due to shortening days and cooler temperatures, plants and trees stop creating nutrients, their chlorophyll breaks down, and autumn leaves, in all their red and yellow splendour, completely overtake our streets, forests, and hillsides.
Gardening for Fall Plants
Because Autumn colour is so widespread, it isn’t too hard to find shrubs and trees that turn pretty colours in autumn. Steer clear of evergreen and coniferous plants and chances are you’ll find something that turns yellow, red, or orange in late September.
Everyone has their favourites, of course, so feel free to do your own research. However, in the meantime, here’s a collection of fall plants we love that have the power to bring colour to your landscape.
Some of these are classic favourites, and some bear a more unusual physiology or growing pattern. In fact, some of them don’t turn into yellow or orange at all. Rather, they turn purple or pink, blooming in Autumn in order to add rebellious bursts of colour to an otherwise consistent landscape.
Take a look:
Autumn’s Colour Spectrum
In BC and beyond, the colours yellow, red, orange, and brown, when put together have become the quintessential autumn aesthetic.
Pumpkin pie, tea and lattes, cornucopias, Thanksgiving and Halloween. It’s hard to imagine any of these autumn staples without fall’s classic colour spectrum.
Following close behind, fall-related retail marketing uses the same colours. Now, three months of the year have been permanently branded with their own theme. Literally millions of people have been so influenced by the fall colour spectrum that it’s almost impossible to hear the word “autumn” without the colours of fall foliage bursting into your mind alongside it.
In other words, nature has once again proven its remarkable capacity to alter even the smallest parts of our mental and emotional lives.
Our Top 12 Plants for Fall Colour
Let’s kick if off with a Canadian fall classic: maple trees. We’re particularly attached to red maples and Norway maples (both of which have leaves that turn deep scarlet starting in the late summer before falling through December) although nearly any type of maple will do the trick.
Quercus rubra, Deciduous tree
Another classic! Red oaks are very common – both their size and bright red leaves make them hugely popular choices for autumn colour.
Metasequoia glyptostroboides, Deciduous conifer
A rare and unusual tree, dawn redwoods are unique because they’re one of the only types of coniferous trees in the world that aren’t evergreen. It’s soft, needle-like foliage turns yellowish brown in autumn in a way few would expect. Moreover, dawn redwoods are endangered, so adding one to your landscape is an eco-friendly undertaking.
Rhus typhina, Deciduous shrub
There’s no plant quite like a sumac in terms of shape or texture, but many people don’t realize that they also add vivid greens and reds to your landscape in autumn. The largest type of sumac in North America, staghorn sumacs can make a gorgeous addition to your garden, but please note that they can be high maintenance, as they have a tendency to produce lots of offshoots and suckers.
Burning Bush/Winged Euonymus
Euonymus alatus, Deciduous shrub
A low-maintenance shrub that can vary greatly in size and function, burning bush is a very versatile plant. With bright red fall foliage that borders on fluorescent, this plant is a must-have for a vibrant autumn garden.
Oak Leaf Hydrangea
Hydrangea quercifolia, Deciduous shrub
Named because its leaves resemble that of an oak tree, these hydrangeas turn purplish burgundy in the fall before they lose their foliage.
Vaccinium corymbosum, Deciduous shrub
We all know and love blueberries, so why not plant some in your yard? Blueberry bushes tend to hold the most fruit in late summer/early autumn, but soon after, their foliage turns bright red, which makes these hardy shrubs a fun, healthy, and pretty addition to your garden.
Callicarpa americana, Deciduous shrub
At a glance, this shrub may not look like much. It has rather uninteresting green leaves, small flowers, and grows to an average height of four feet tall. However, in the fall, it grows bright violet berries that persist until winter, adding unusual visual interest against autumn’s usual colour palette.
Unlike many other vines and ivies which remain evergreen, Virginia creepers are known for their bright fall reds and oranges – especially if they’re growing in a sunny location! For best results, plant next to a south-facing wall or trellis.
Tagetes erecta, Annual
A hardy annual that blooms in late summer and generally lasts until at least the end of November, the golden-yellow flowers of this plant very nicely complement an autumnal backdrop.
Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’, Perennial
A sturdy, popular perennial, this variety of sedum has light green leaves and vivid pink flowers that bloom in early fall. They’re low maintenance, attractive year-round, tolerant to varied conditions, and are known to attract hummingbirds and butterflies.
Lobelia erinus, Annual/Perennial (varies by species)
For an intense, cobalt-blue addition to your fall landscape, lobelia are hard to beat. They do very well in cool autumn weather and generally retain their colour until late November or early December.
What are your favourite fall plants? The list of plants that can do well in autumn is nearly endless, and we’d love to hear your thoughts!
If you’d like our help sprucing up your fall landscape, please feel free to get in touch now!