Yard & Garden News

Native Shrubs For Fall Color

Tuesday, August 20th, 2019
<i>Bottlebrush buckeye fall color<br />Photo Credits: Purdue Arboretum</i>
Bottlebrush buckeye fall color
Photo Credits: Purdue Arboretum
Fothergorilla Tree
Dwarf fothergilla fall color
Photo Credits: Purdue Arboretum
Red leaf
Oak-leaved hydrangea fall color
Photo Credits: Purdue Arboretum

If you’re looking to add native shrubs to your home landscape, fall is an excellent time to look for those with good fall color. While many factors affect the display of fall color, there are a number of native shrub species that perform reliably in our area.

Here’s a short list to consider, including their mature height as well as flowers and fall color. Most can adapt to either full sun or partial shade, especially morning sun with afternoon shade -- with the exception of Dirca, which prefers shade.

You can look up more details for each of these species at the Purdue Arboretum Explorer website. It includes location of these shrubs on the West Lafayette campus.


Selected Native Shrubs for Fall Color


Scientific Name Common Name Size Flowers Fall Color
Aesculus parviflora bottlebrush buckeye 6-12' white, summer yellow
Aronia melanocarpa black chokeberry 3-6' white, spring yellow orange
Calycanthus floridus sweetshrub 6-10' maroon, spring yellow
Cephalanthus occidentalis buttonbush 5-12' white, spring
Clethra alnifolia summersweet 3-8' white, summer yellow
Cornus alternifolia pagoda dogwood 15-25' off white, spring red purple yellow
Corylus americana American hazlenut 10-16' brown, spring variable
Dirca palustris leatherwood 4-6' yellow, spring yellow
Fothergilla gardenii dwarf fothergilla 2-3' white, spring yellow orange red
Fothergilla major witch-alder 6-10' white, spring yellow orange red
Hamamelis vernalis vernal witchhazel 6-10' yellow, spring yellow
Hamamelis virginiana common witchhazel 15-20' yellow, fall yellow
Hydrangea quercifolia oakleaf hydrangea 3-8' white, pink, spring summer red purple
Itea virginica Virginia sweetspire 3-5' white, summer red orange
Lindera benzoin spice bush 6-12' yellow green, spring yellow
Physocarpus opulifolius ninebark 5-9' white, pink, spring dull yellow
Rhus aromatica fragrant sumac 2-6' yellow, spring orange red purple
Rhus glabra smooth sumac 9-15' yellow green, spring orange red
Rhus typhina staghorn sumac 15-25' yellow green, summer orange red
Sambucus canadensis American elderberry 5-12' white, summer yellowish
Viburnum dentatum arrowwood viburnum 6-10' white, pink, spring variable
Viburnum lentago nannyberry viburnum 14-16' white, spring variable
Viburnum prunifolium blackhaw viburnum 12-15' white, spring variable
Viburnum trilobum American cranberrybush 8-12' white, spring purplish red

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Author: B. Rosie Lerner, rosie@purdue.edu
Editor: Charles Wineland, cwinelan@purdue.edu
Category: Extension, Horticulture & Landscape Architecture

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