12 Great Shrubs and Vines for Fall Color

Boston ivy

 

artist-unlimited / Getty Images

Injecting fall color into your yard's landscape is about more than just planting your typical red maples or other trees that display colorful leaves. As it turns out, there are plenty of shrubs and vines you can option for your yard as well, many of which hold their own against cooler temperatures and display desirable fall hues like orange, red, and yellow. Depending on your landscape needs or lawn layout, one of these 12 versatile plants may be just the thing you need to make your yard come alive this fall.

  • 01 of 12

    Oakleaf Hydrangea

    Oakleaf hydrangea

    The Spruce / David Beaulieu

    The oakleaf hydrangea gets its name thanks to its bright leaves, which resemble those of an oak tree. Similar to other variations of hydrangea, these bushes produce white flowers in summer that fade to a pinkish-brown in fall. However, oakleaf hydrangea is most sought after for its foliage, which turns red, orange, or burgundy come fall.

    Oakleaf hydrangea is a great choice for creating four-season interest in your landscape, as its branches also sport an attractive peeling bark come winter. It will tolerate a bit of shade, but for optimal coloration, grow it in full sun.

    • Hardiness zones: 5–9 (USDA)
    • Fall color varieties: Red, orange, burgundy
    • Sun exposure: Full sun, partial shade
    • Soil type: Moist but well-drained
  • 02 of 12

    Sumac

    Tiger Eyes sumac

    The Spruce / David Beaulieu

    Sumac bushes may not be the first thing that comes to mind for providing fall colors in the landscape. In fact, some people regard them as weeds, perhaps mistaking all sumac shrubs for poison sumac. However, many varieties of sumac are excellent landscape plants, boasting fall colors ranging from red and burgundy to golden yellow. Two popular varieties often grown for their fall coloring are staghorn sumac and smooth sumac. Both can reach staggering heights of over 10 feet tall.

    • Hardiness zones: 3–8 (USDA)
    • Fall color varieties: Yellow, orange, red
    • Sun exposure: Full sun, partial shade
    • Soil type: Well-drained
  • 03 of 12

    Dwarf Fothergilla

    Fothergilla bush

    The Spruce / David Beaulieu

    Dwarf fothergilla is a compact shrub that blooms white flowers in spring and carries a fragrant aroma. Come fall, the dark green foliage of summer changes to brilliant shades of yellow, orange, and scarlet. Dwarf fothergilla is best planted in a sunny or partially sunny location—the more sunlight it receives, the brighter its autumnal hues are likely to be.

    • Hardiness zones: 5–8 (USDA)
    • Fall color varieties: Yellow, orange, red
    • Sun exposure: Full sun, partial shade
    • Soil type: Moist but well-drained
  • 04 of 12

    Arnold Promise Witch Hazel

    Witch hazel leaves

     

    James53145 / Getty Images

    Arnold Promise witch hazel is a cross between Japanese witch hazel and Chinese witch hazel that typically blooms with yellow flowers in early spring. If given sufficient sunlight throughout the spring and summer months, it will also put on a show come fall, erupting in a magnificent fall foliage display of yellow, orange, and red.

    • Hardiness zones: 5–8 (USDA)
    • Fall color varieties: Yellow, orange, red
    • Sun exposure: Full sun, partial shade
    • Soil type: Moist but well-drained
    Continue to 5 of 12 below.
  • 05 of 12

    Gold Mound Spirea

    Gold Mound spirea

    The Spruce / David Beaulieu

    It's difficult to match oakleaf hydrangea for year-round interest, but Gold Mound spirea comes close, offering three seasons of beauty with spring foliage, summer flowers, and fall color. In addition to the golden autumn hue that gives this shrub its name, splashes of light red also find their way onto the leaves in fall. If you want a truly eye-catching red shade, you can also consider its close cousin, the Tor spirea, which boasts dark green leaves in summer that turn a vibrant purple-red in fall.

    • Hardiness zones: 4–8 (USDA)
    • Fall color varieties: Yellow, reddish-purple
    • Sun exposure: Full sun
    • Soil type: Moist but well-drained
  • 06 of 12

    Virginia Sweetspire

    Virginia sweetspire

    The Spruce / David Beaulieu

    For a look similar to burning bush (which is considered an invasive shrub in many areas), try planting a Virginia sweetspire. The bold bush flowers white in the spring then follows that up with a brilliant rusty-red display in the fall months.

    • Hardiness zones: 5–9 (USDA)
    • Fall color varieties: Red, orange, gold
    • Sun exposure: Full sun, partial shade
    • Soil type: Moist but well-drained
  • 07 of 12

    Viburnum

    Korean spice viburnum

    The Spruce / David Beaulieu

    Viburnum is a flowering shrub known to boast bright fall colors if given the proper growing conditions. While there are several different types of viburnum plants, one of the most popular is the Korean spice viburnum, which has a fantastic aroma and vibrant orange-red leaves.

    Another variety, arrowwood viburnum, bears white flowers in spring, which give way to foliage and blue berries in the fall. Fun fact: Arrowwood viburnum gets its descriptive name from the hard and straight stems that emerge from the plant's base, which were traditionally used to make arrow shafts.

    • Hardiness zones: 3–9 (USDA)
    • Fall color varieties: Red, purple, bronze
    • Sun exposure: Full sun, partial shade
    • Soil type: Well-drained
  • 08 of 12

    Virginia Creeper

    Virginia creeper

    The Spruce / David Beaulieu

    Virginia creeper is a ground-hugging or climbing vine that is sometimes mistaken for poison ivy. It is a gorgeous plant in autumn, but it can also be a nuisance due to its aggressive growth—its vines can reach as long as 50 feet and may smother nearby trees unless you carefully monitor its behavior. To achieve the showiest coloration for this vine, plant it in full sunlight.

    • Hardiness zones: 3–9 (USDA)
    • Fall color varieties: Bright red, purple
    • Sun exposure: Full sun
    • Soil type: Moist but well-drained
    Continue to 9 of 12 below.
  • 09 of 12

    Boston Ivy

    Boston ivy

    The Spruce / David Beaulieu

    Boston ivy is a close relative of Virginia creeper. It's a toss-up as to which offers a better autumn display, although Boston ivy is definitely the better known of the two. While it is beautiful, Boston ivy has developed a reputation for being a bit of a pain—the clinging vine's tendrils can damage wood or brick structures if its growth is left unchecked.

    • Hardiness zones: 4–8 (USDA)
    • Fall color varieties: Red, purple
    • Sun exposure: Full sun, partial shade
    • Soil type: Dry
  • 10 of 12

    Beautyberry

    Beautyberry

    Mizuki / Getty Images

    Beautyberry is an appropriately-named shrub, thanks to the unique purple berries it bears in autumn. It does not provide much decorative landscape value throughout the rest of the year, but its berries alone (not to mention their interesting growth pattern) are typically enough to woo gardeners into planting this eye-catching plant.

    • Hardiness zones: 5–7 (USDA)
    • Fall color varieties: Purple
    • Sun exposure: Full sun, partial shade
    • Soil type: Moist
  • 11 of 12

    Chokeberry

    Close-Up Of Chokeberries Growing Outdoors

    Manuela Schewe-Behnisch / Getty Images

    Another group of shrubs worth considering for fall berry color is the chokeberry group. The most well-known of the bunch, red chokeberry, blooms white flowers in early spring that become glossy red berries in the summer. Come autumn, the berry color can turn deeper, almost to purple, providing interesting fall color.

    Viking black chokeberry is yet another popular varietal, also bearing white flowers in spring, along with dark green leaves. However, the foliage on this shrub also changes in the fall, morphing first to red, then to purple. Its blackish-purple berries remain on the shrub well into the winter and serve as an emergency food source for birds.

    • Hardiness zones: 4–9 (USDA)
    • Fall color varieties: Red, purple, black
    • Sun exposure: Full sun, partial shade
    • Soil type: Well-drained
  • 12 of 12

    American Bittersweet

    fall berries of bittersweet vine

    The Spruce / David Beaulieu

    American bittersweet is a vine native to North America (not to be confused with Oriental bittersweet which is attractive but terribly invasive). Make sure to buy from a reputable nursery to ensure you are planting true American bittersweet. This fanciful vine is a good choice for those looking to provide their landscape with some serious fall color. The berries, which grow green in summer, bear a bright yellow husk in early fall, providing a truly striking display. As autumn progresses, the husk peels back, revealing an orange berry within. And, as if that were not enough, the leaves of the vine turn a vivid yellow.

    • Hardiness zones: 3–8 (USDA)
    • Fall color varieties: Yellow, red
    • Sun exposure: Full sun
    • Soil type: Well-drained