Monrovia Plant Savvy
design, inspiration and practical ideas from the plant experts. October 2012
Blueberries for Fabulous Fall Foliage

Dear Savvy Gardener,


The ever-growing popularity of Blueberry shrubs in the garden is no passing fad. Savvy gardeners have discovered that they’re easy to grow, attractive in the landscape and teaming with delicious plump berries. With plenty of varieties for both cold and warmer climates, you can enjoy growing your own anti-oxidant-rich fruit just about anywhere. Then in the fall, they put on a show of dazzling color. The new Bountiful Blue® is a fantastic choice if you want a delightful hybrid of an eye-catching ornamental with a long season of prolific fruiting. Plant a hedge of these Blueberry shrubs, spaced about four feet apart, and you’ll have a bumper crop all summer followed by a wall of fiery fall color. Blueberries are pretty low maintenance -- just a light pruning once a year, after the season’s harvest, and the shrubs will maintain a tidy appearance. Most are pest and disease resistant, and they don’t have thorns, so they are children and pet-friendly.

  Bountiful Blue® Blueberry
After its long season of producing plump, juicy berries, the foliage of Bountiful Blue® Blueberry turns from its summer blue color to a vibrant array of red and burgundy.
Blueberries and More
  Chandler Blueberry leafgif   success with blueberries

Blueberries do have specific growing needs, but once you’re in the loop, you’re on your way to success. First, acidic soil is essential. Your local garden center will have home tester kits if you don’t know the pH of your soil. If you have more alkaline soil, adding peat moss, pine needles and old coffee grounds can help enhance the soil’s acidity. Another option is to plant the blueberries in large containers, using an Azalea-Camellia potting mixture or similar made for acid-loving plants. This way you’ll have more control over the soil and moisture levels. Yes, moisture is important because Blueberries have shallow root systems, so they need more frequent watering than other shrubs. Next, they need a sunny spot in the garden. In very hot climates, we suggest full morning sun and dappled sun in the afternoon.

  Dwarf Burning Bush
leafgif   leaf peeping in your own backyard

When you see a Burning Bush from a distance it looks like it is in full flower – but that is just the brightly colored fall foliage. The Dwarf Burning Bush is an intense scarlet and has a nice tidy mounding habit. It is a marvelous addition to a grove of conifers. These are easy-to-grow shrubs in a wide range of climates; and despite the name, are good choices for a fire-safe landscape.

  Autumn Moon Maple leafgif   dancing leaves

Japanese Maples are smaller than other Maples and have delicate leaves that seem to dance in the breeze. Their fall foliage colors are dazzling, with varieties turning burnt orange, scarlet, burgundy or red-black. Autumn Moon evolves from chartreuse to many shades of deep orange. Fernleaf Full-Moon is a graceful beauty, with its bright green leaves turning a rich, ruby-red crimson in the fall. Bloodgood is popular for its burgundy foliage that turns a brilliant scarlet. Jamie Durie has one in his “outdoor bath”!

  Profusion Beautyberry


berry nice

The Beautyberry is a fabulous shrub for fall color. Its branches are loaded with clusters of bright colored berries that last for weeks. Early Amethyst has yellow-green foliage that contrasts nicely with its berries; and Profusion is noted for its abundance of long-lasting violet berries. Pyracantha is another great choice for colorful long-lasting berries. You’ll find them in a range of bright reds and oranges. Be sure to bring in some of the berry-laden branches indoors and create stunning cut flower arrangements.

  Magic Carpet Spirea


ever-changing foliage

Three of our favorite easy-care shrubs for fall color are Abelia, Spirea and Heavenly Bamboo. Bronze Anniversary™ Abelia has a graceful habit and lovely lime-gold leaves. Magic Carpet Spirea has bright gold foliage that turns russet in autumn; and Double Play® Big Bang has deep yellow leaves that become rich golden orange as the weather cools. Heavenly Bamboo gets its name from China, where it was often planted on temple grounds to symbolize good fortune. In the fall, Sienna Sunrise® has fiery red highlights and Plum Passion® a deep purplish-red.