10 Best Fall Landscape Plants For a Stunning Autumn Landscape

Image by Manfred Richter from Pixabay

As summer gracefully exits and crisp autumn air sets in, our landscapes undergo a breathtaking transformation. Lush greens morph into a fiery palette of reds, oranges, and yellows, creating a natural spectacle that rivals any firework display. But what if you could extend this vibrant display beyond just the leaves?

Introducing ten exceptional fall landscape plants that will transform your yard into a dazzling autumn wonderland.

Shrubs Ablaze: Setting the Stage for a Colorful Fall

Shrubs are the cornerstones of a stunning fall landscape, providing a vibrant backdrop for other plants and adding vertical interest. Here are a few exceptional options to consider:

  • 1. Burning Bush (Euonymus alatus): This aptly named shrub lives up to its fiery reputation. Its glossy green leaves transform into a mesmerizing display of crimson red come fall, guaranteed to turn heads. Burning bushes thrive in full sun and are relatively low-maintenance, making them a perfect choice for busy homeowners.
  • 2. Witch Hazel (Hamamelis virginiana): Don’t be fooled by the name – witch hazel is a captivating addition to any fall garden. Depending on the variety, its foliage explodes in shades of yellow, orange, or fiery red, offering a vibrant contrast to evergreens. Witch hazel is a slow grower but boasts a long lifespan, rewarding patient gardeners with years of autumn beauty.
  • 3. Oakleaf Hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia): Popular for its stunning summer blooms, the oakleaf hydrangea shines even brighter in fall. Its large, lobed leaves transition from green to a mesmerizing burgundy or purple hue, adding a touch of elegance to the autumn landscape. Oakleaf hydrangeas prefer partial shade and moist soil, thriving under the dappled light of taller trees.

Trees Aflame: Witnessing the Majesty of Fall Foliage

Trees are the undisputed stars of the fall show, their towering presence adding drama and grandeur to your landscape. Here are a few exceptional choices guaranteed to steal the spotlight:

  • 4. Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum): A quintessential symbol of autumn, the sugar maple is a must-have for any fall enthusiast. Its large, deeply lobed leaves transform into a breathtaking display of fiery orange, red, and yellow, creating a mesmerizing spectacle. Sugar maples prefer full sun and well-drained soil, offering shade and vibrant fall color for generations to come.
  • 5. Redbud (Cercis canadensis): While redbuds are known for their beautiful pink spring blooms, they also boast a surprising fall display. Their heart-shaped leaves transition from green to a warm yellow hue, adding a touch of sunshine to the autumn palette. Redbuds are adaptable to a variety of sun conditions and are a great choice for smaller yards due to their moderate size.
  • 6. Dogwood (Cornus florida): Another favorite for its spring blooms, the dogwood offers a delightful surprise in fall. Its glossy green leaves morph into a spectrum of reds, ranging from deep burgundy to vibrant crimson. Dogwoods prefer partial shade and moist soil, thriving under the protective canopy of taller trees.

Flowers that Flourish: Extending the Bloom into Fall

Who says flowers have to take a backseat in fall? Here are a few exceptional options that will continue to bloom and add pops of color well into the cooler months:

  • 7. Chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum morifolium): Also known as mums, these cheerful daisy-like flowers are synonymous with fall. Available in a vibrant spectrum of colors, from classic reds and oranges to pinks, purples, and even bi-colors, mums are a versatile choice for borders, containers, or cut flower arrangements.
  • 8. New England Aster (Aster novae-angliae): These star-shaped beauties boast a long bloom time, extending their vibrant purples, pinks, and blues well into fall. New England asters are low-maintenance and prefer full sun, making them a perfect choice for sunny borders or meadows.
  • 9. Crocus (Crocus spp.): Often associated with spring, certain crocus varieties, like Crocus speciosus, surprise gardeners with a burst of color in the fall. These delicate purple blooms add a touch of whimsy and unexpected charm to the autumn landscape. Plant crocus bulbs in well-drained soil in a sunny location and enjoy their cheerful surprise come fall.

Grasses with Flair: Adding Texture and Movement

Fall gardens aren’t just about vibrant colors. Ornamental grasses add a touch of texture and movement, creating a dynamic contrast with the bolder hues of fall foliage.

  • 10. Maiden Grass (Miscanthus sinensis): With its feathery plumes swaying gently in the autumn breeze, maiden grass adds a touch of elegance and movement to the fall landscape. Its foliage takes on a warm golden hue in fall, adding a touch of warmth to the color palette. Maiden grass thrives in full sun and moist soil, forming a graceful clump that provides winter interest even after the plumes fade.

Designing Your Fall Masterpiece: Tips for Creating a Cohesive Landscape

Now that you’ve discovered a range of stunning fall plants, it’s time to translate your inspiration into reality. Here are some tips for creating a cohesive and visually appealing fall landscape:

  • Consider color harmony: While fall is a celebration of bold colors, creating a sense of harmony is key. Group plants with complementary colors, like red and green or orange and purple, for a visually pleasing effect.
  • Play with texture and form: Don’t forget the power of texture! Combine broadleaf plants with wispy ornamental grasses or feathery ferns to add depth and visual interest. Likewise, play with the form of your plants. Upright shrubs like burning bushes can be beautifully balanced by rounded hydrangeas or sprawling asters.
  • Think about succession of bloom: Extend the fall display by planting varieties that bloom at different times. Early bloomers like crape myrtles can hand over the spotlight to late bloomers like chrysanthemums, ensuring your garden is bursting with color throughout the season.
  • Don’t forget the power of evergreens: While deciduous plants take center stage in fall, strategically placed evergreens like boxwoods or pines provide a sense of structure and balance throughout the year.
  • Maintain your fall stars: To ensure your fall plants reach their full potential, proper care is essential. Water regularly during dry spells, fertilize according to the specific needs of each plant, and prune as needed to maintain desired shapes.

Leave a Comment