It’s true that in warmer zones fall is more of a state of mind than a celebration of fiery foliage. That said, you can have that cozy autumn feeling by planting a few shrubs that offer a colorful autumn display.
We wanted to share a few favorites, each with something special to offer. All of these look great in spring and summer but with the bonus of that third fabulous season. Slip in a few of these now then for a big show next fall. Then get out and enjoy those last days in the garden before the rains come. Or before the garden fades into a softer, more wintery palette.
(As zones often overlap, check out this companion post for even more great options.)
Vaughn’s Lillie Oak Leaf Hydrangea
You grew them for the famous late summer floral clusters. However, check out the burgundy-red fall foliage and peeling reddish-brown bark that show up in fall. Partial sun. Up to 4 ft. tall and 5 ft. wide. Zone: 5 – 9
Natchez Crape Myrtle
Zone: 6 – 9
These late-summer treasures have one more act and it’s a doozy– vibrant orange-red fall foliage. Ideal accent or group specimen. Full sun. Up to 20 ft. tall and wide.
Zone: 5 – 8
This shade-loving smaller shrub turns reddish-bronze in fall. Lovely with azaleas, ferns, azaleas, or rhodies. Partial shade to filtered sun. Up to 2 ft. tall and 4 ft. wide.
Zone: 5 – 9
This one’s deeply veined foliage turns red to purple in fall. Appreciates afternoon shade in warmest zones. Partial to full sun. Up to 8 ft. tall and wide.
Bountiful Blue® Blueberry
Zone: 6 – 10
Blueberries just keeps on giving-spring flowers, summer berries, and deep red fall foliage. This one’s low chill for warmer zones. Full sun. Up to 4 ft. tall and wide.
Plum Passion® Hydrangea
Zone: 7 – 10
Fall foliage develops golden topsides, while retaining its purple undersides. Use in shady borders. Partial shade to filtered sun. Up to 6 ft. tall and wide.
Purple Hopseed Bush
Zone: 8 – 11
Great evergreen screening plant for waterwise gardens. Excels with bronze-green foliage that turns deep purple-red in fall. Full sun. Up to 12 ft. tall and 8 ft.wide.
Emerald Sea Heavenly Bamboo
Zone: 6 – 11
We love this Nandina’s emerald-green foliage that takes on a mysterious purple cast in fall. Works in dry shade. Partial to full sun. Up to 5 ft. tall and 3 ft. wide.
Dwarf Nikko Deutzia
Zone: 5 – 8
A stronger performer in a range of zones. This low grower blooms in spring, then displays a deep burgundy fall color. Partial to full sun. Up to 2 ft. tall and 5 ft. wide.
Zone: 7 – 9
Versatile, heat tolerant, okay in moist soils. Chartreuse foliage turns to maroon highlights in fall, with berries to boot! Full sun. Up to 4 ft. tall and 3 ft. wide.