What shrubs do you grow for fall color?

marilou(z4 IA)August 10, 2005

Hi folks. I've been looking at catalogs and magazines for shrub ideas and many of the shrubs I like that have fall interest are hardy to zone 5 or 6. What shrubs do you recommend for fall color? I know there's always the reliable burning bush but does anyone have other ideas? Has anyone had success with defying the zonal requirements? Any yeas or nays on witch hazel? Has anyone tried ninebark?

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garasaki(z5 IA)

I have diabolo ninebark at my house. Truth be told, I didn't pay attention to it last fall (the first year at my house) so I can't comment on it's fall color. But it's normal foliage is gorgeous, and it seems to love the weather here.

I have noticed A LOT of burning bushes dying with the weather we've had this year. They are also considered invasive and a real threat to native species. It's personally a shrub I don't think I'd put in my yard.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2005 at 2:35PM
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marilou(z4 IA)

One more try--we're coming into prime planting season. :D Anyone out there?

    Bookmark   August 27, 2005 at 10:00AM
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buttercupia(zone4 IA)

I just planted a Mt. Airy Fothergilla in partial sun with moist acidy soil. It's been doing well and the leaves and structure of the shrub are pleasing.. related to witch hazel, Mt Airy is supposed to have very good fall color.. orangy red all over.. it comes in a standard and a dward form and I'm looking forward to its coming color change... also the Sweetspire.. Henry and Little Henry also have brilliant red color in the fall. Spring finds both the Fothergilla and the Sweetspire bearing white sweet scented flowers. There are more, but I'll stop here for now.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2005 at 12:31AM
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stan_ia_z4(z4 ia)

I just dug my nine bark out and through it away. Looks good in the spring and very bad in the summer and fall.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2005 at 6:46PM
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leftwood(z4a MN)

Fothergilla should be a great fall color shrub. But I gave up with starting small because I couldn't keep the rabbits from eating it! They simply love anything in the witchhazel family. I would start larger so you would have a chance against the rascals.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2005 at 6:07PM
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I just planted Itea 'Henry's Garnet' Its supposed to have great fall color.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2005 at 10:40AM
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Lizzy5225(z4 IA)

I have a two year old diablo nine-bark that is beautiful. Love the dainty flowers in the fall. Joe Pyeweed looks great but I lost all but 1 of the 5 I planted last year. Leaves are chocolate and has small pink flowers in fall.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2005 at 3:03PM
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AdelJeff(z5 IA)

Hello Marilou,
I like the Sumac myself for fall color and the red seed heads through the winter. They will spread though so keep that in mind... And they are native so no problems on overwintering.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2005 at 11:22AM
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marilou(z4 IA)

Thanks for everyone's suggestions! I picked up Itea (Sweetspire) 'Henry's Garnet' and Weigela 'Alexandra' (AKA Wine & Roses) during my latest rounds of the nurseries.

Does anyone have mature specimens of these? The information I've found on mature size varies and I want to allow plenty of room. Anyone have a picture to post of Sweetspire in the fall? Thanks again!

    Bookmark   September 17, 2005 at 10:16AM
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Nushka_IA(4b IA)

I just planted a dwarf cranberry viburnum (V. opulus--can't remember the cv.) and an Aronia 'Brilliantisima', but I can't tell you if they'll live up to their fall-color promise. They're both native and good for birds, supposedly. Re: witch hazel, I've seen them doing nicely around here (Cedar Falls, 4b).

    Bookmark   September 19, 2005 at 5:23PM
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jspece(Josh - z4 IA)

I've had a Diablo Ninebark for 4 or 5 years. I don't recall any memorable fall color, but I don't remember it looking bad in the fall. It still looks good now. It does have nice exfoliating bark for winter interest.

The sumac suggestion is good, if you don't mind suckers. The cut-leaf types are nice, but my favorite is 'Tiger Eyes'. The foliage is electric yellow all summer with red petioles, then turns orange-red in the fall.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   September 19, 2005 at 9:16PM
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jspece, how much suckering do you have with the Tiger Eyes?

    Bookmark   September 28, 2005 at 4:18PM
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jspece(Josh - z4 IA)

So far, none, Michelle. I just put it in last summer, though. Time will tell.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2005 at 5:26PM
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I also like American hazelnut for its Fall color- wonderful fiery orange-red. Of the sumacs, there is one called Fragrant Sumac available as a cultivar called "Gro-low" which is a nice size for gardens (3 feet high by 8 feet wide) and does not sucker as much the Staghorn sumac & cutleaf do. It's supposed to be hardy to zone 3.
Rhus aromatica is the latin name - the fragrance is said to be a bit musty if you smell it- but I've never been able to detect it. I suppose if one were doing a lot of pruning it might have a smell. So I wouldn't use it right by the door (just in case), but it needs room to spread out anyway.
The fall color is so nice that it belongs at a distance, in order to draw you right out into the garden!
The species, as opposed to this particular cultivar, grows somewhat taller, there is more variation in the fall color, and may sucker a bit more - I WISH it would sucker in my garden.

Here is a link that might be useful: high country gardens link

    Bookmark   September 30, 2005 at 9:37AM
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