Fall Color in Your Yard

As temperatures cool off, it’s finally starting to feel like autumn outside. This means it’s time to enjoy bold fall foliage. But that doesn’t have to be limited to the red, orange, and yellow leaves of trees in the fall. Grasses, shrubs, and showy berries can all add beautiful color to your garden in the fall.

The plants listed below are a few fall color favorites of staff in the Kemper Center for Home Gardening. If you’re looking to add more color to your garden in autumn months, give some of them a try.



Panicum virgatum ‘Shenandoah’ (switch grass): In the fall, switch grass has burgundy-red foliage topped with reddish-pink flower panicles.  

Sorghastrum nutans ‘Sioux Blue’ (Indian grass): Its silvery-blue foliage turns golden in the fall, topped with feathery seed heads.


Shaw Nature Reserve in fall (2017)
Callicarpa americana (beautyberry) | Photo by Lisa DeLorenzo Hagar


Shrubs/small trees

Viburnum nudum ‘Winterthur’ (smooth withered): The plant’s glossy foliage turns shades of dark red-maroon to purple in the autumn. Its berries are showy, too. As they ripen, the berries change color from light pink, to blue, to purplish-black.  To get the best fruiting, increase cross-pollination by planting other cultivars of V. nudum in the same area.

Callicarpa americana (beautyberry): The berries of this plant are an incredible bright purple color. Its foliage will change to chartreuse-yellow as the fall continues.

Acer palmatum  (Japanese maple): The Japanese maple has amazing fall color that can range from golden yellow to orange to bright scarlet-red.

Fothergilla gardeniiBlue Mist’ (dwarf fothergilla): Fall colors on this shrub include yellows, oranges, and reds, sometimes all on the same bush.

Hamamelis  (common witch hazel): Depending on the cultivar, fall foliage can range from bright yellow to dark red, almost maroon.


Acer rubrum  (red maple) | Photo by Tom Incrocci



Acer rubrum  (red maple): These are mostly red in color, but can include light oranges as well.

Cercis canadensis (eastern redbud): Depending on the type, the foliage on these trees can range from yellow to dark red-maroon.

Ginkgo biloba (maidenhair tree): These trees display vivid and consistent yellow. Be sure to only choose male cultivars, as the females produce unpleasant, smelly seeds.

Nyssa sylvatica (black gum): Black gums show a consistently beautiful fall color each year, ranging from yellow, to orange, to deep red.

Sassafras albidum (sassafras): Fall colors can be variable from year to year, but can include yellows, oranges, and reds, sometimes all on the same tree.


Catherine Martin
Public Information Officer

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