The Q&A Archives: shrubs for fall color zone 7

Question: I am on the beautification commitee at my neighborhood, and need some help on our entrance gardens, we have large pillars on each side of the median and I need some colorful fall color shrubs and annuals for zone 7 the size is 24 x 28.

Answer: There are lots of shrubs and perennials to choose from. Here are a few garden favorites:

The Burning Bush, Euonymus alatus 'Compacta' has an outstanding red fall color. The deep dark red leaves almost glow with color in the fall. The plant is shade tolerant but has inferior fall color and reduced density in shade. Burning Bush transplants easily and may be sheared. The corky wings on the twigs hold winter snow, outlining the branch structure.

The orange and red fruit is ornamental if produced in quantity, but plants vary in the amount of fruit they produce. Burning Bush is a favorite winter food of rabbits and mice. This deciduous bush withstands acidic or alkaline soils and a wide range of temperatures. Established plants can take some drought too.

The Black Chokeberry, Aronia melanocarpa 'black', is an open, upright, spreading, somewhat rounded but leggy, deciduous shrub which typically grows 3-6? tall. It displays clusters of 5-petaled, white flowers in spring which are followed in early autumn by blackish purple, blueberry-sized fruits which usually do not persist into winter. Lustrous, dark green foliage turns an attractive purplish red in autumn.

The Cotoneaster Cranberry, 'Cotoneaster apiculatus', is a deciduous shrub that is easily grown in average, medium wet, well-drained soils in full sun. It has a wide tolerance of soil types.The branches may root where they touch the ground. This dense shrub displays stiffly arching branches. The small pink flowers appear in late spring and they will produce red cranberry-like berries in late summer. The autumn leaf color is very attractive with shades of purple, red and bronze. Use this plant to cover large areas, as a foundation plant, a low informal hedge.

The Spirea 'Dart's Red', Spiraea x bumalda 'Dart's Red', is a deciduous semi-evergreen shrub. It is a low growing shrub with rounded shape. The thin branches give Dart's Red a very dense appearance. The young leaves have a pinkish red color and become dark green at maturity.

Distinguished by their size, bloom color and season of bloom, spireas all have small leaves and fine, twiggy branches. Once established, they are drought tolerant.

The St. John's Wort 'Sunburst', 'Hypernicum', also known as Golden St. John's Wort, has excellent yellow blooms that appear from June until July. St. John's Wort is easy to maintain and grow, preferring full sun to part shade in well drained soil. It will perform better in rich, sandy loams. It is tolerant of some drought but mulching the roots in the winter would be suggested. St. John's Wort is noted for its large golden yellow flowers and attractive blue green foliage. Growing 3-4' tall and wide, it is a native from Kentucky to North Carolina south to Georgia, Alabama and Texas where it typically occurs in rocky hills, limestone glades and barrens. Use this plant in shrub borders, hedges, foundations and planted in mass.

Aster novi-belgii (Michaelmas Daisy) In shades of pink, purple, blue and white, these delicate daisy-like blossoms start popping open in late August and continue on until frost. Pinching in the early summer turns these Asters into mounds with dozens of flower buds. [p]Asters will tend to creep throughout your garden, but their airiness allows them to blend particularly well with other flowers.

Caryopteris is a sub-shrub that is often grown in the perennial garden. Caryopteris slowly blossoms in August with dazzling blue flower clusters. Just try and keep the butterflies and bees away. Caryopteris is cut back in early spring, like a Buddleia, and the gray-green foliage is attractive all season.

Helenium (Sneezeweed) Helenium is making a resurgence in gardens. They look like small russet-toned coneflowers, in reds, yellows and oranges. Many helenium can grow quite tall and will need to be staked or pinched. Like clematis, they like cool feet and hot heads. helenium is also a good choice for poorly drained areas.

Sedum 'Autumn Joy' comes as close to perfection as any plant can. It looks good all year, requires minimal attention and attracts few problems. It's only drawback is that it is not deer resistant. 'Autumn Joy' has been joined in the garden by a growing number of fall wonders like: 'Bertram Anderson, 'Brilliant' and 'Matrona'. No fall garden is complete without sedum.

Best wishes with your landscaping project!

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