6 Low-Maintenance Shrubs for Sensational Fall Color

6 Low-Maintenance Shrubs for Sensational Fall Color

Nov 8, 2019

Who doesn’t love when the weather gets a little cooler and the leaves put on their final show of the year, painting the skyline in remarkable shades of red, yellow, and orange. However, trees are not the only specimens that burst in a spectacular fall displays, these low-maintenance shrubs give trees a run for their money when it comes to sensational fall color. 

Low-maintenance Evergreen Shrubs

Evergreen shrubs retain their foliage all year round, as they have adapted to conserve water without losing their leaves. Broadleaf evergreen shrubs are particularly interesting as their foliage resembles the leaves of deciduous shrub and many offer a vibrant fall color display. Here are a few fan favorites that are sure to wow no matter what season it is. 

Nandina Firepower Shrubs

Often used in Asian-inspired gardens, Nandina Firepower is a compact, low-growing, broadleaf evergreen that is much more vibrant in color than other nandina shrubs. Perfect for small urban gardens, courtyards, used as a centerpiece in containers, yet versatile enough to plant in mass for larger landscape designs. 

New growth emerges in bright lime green with pink tipped leaves that ages to a medium green color. As the temperatures drop, the foliage transforms to a fiery burgundy red. Nandina firepower retains this amazing color throughout the winter months. 

Purchase these plants during their color peak (October-November) so you can blend the color palette into your garden. Place them in the ground immediately so roots can establish in the still-warm autumn soil. Nandina Firepower prefer sun to part-shade, will grow about 2 feet tall and up to 3 feet wide, and require little to no maintenance.

Nandina Firepower Uses

Sunshine Ligustrum Shrubs

The bight yellow evergreen foliage of Sunshine Ligustrum is a sight to behold year round. This low-maintenance evergreen shrub is mid-sized, growing 3-6 feet tall and 3-4 feet wide. It’s fast growing nature makes it perfect to use as foundation or low privacy hedge, but also works well in containers.This plant takes very well to pruning and shaping. If left unpruned, the bush will have loosely curved stems with natural airy appeal. 

If you are worried about planting privet in your yard, have no fear Sunshine Ligustrum is nothing like it’s unruly counterparts. Sunshine Ligustrum is non-invasive and will not reseed in your landscape.  

Sunshine Ligustrum Uses

Mahonia Winter Sun

If you are looking for a dramatic low-maintenance evergreen shrub Mahonia Winter Sun might just fit the bill. The statuesque, upright appearance boasts large dark-green frond-like leaves with substantial sprays of fragrant yellow flowers that appear late fall into early winter. The flowers give way to clusters of waxy berries providing a source of food for many bird species. 

This plant is hardy and will grow to 10 feet tall and 5 feet wide if left un-pruned. Prefers part sun to shade and sheltered, preferably eastern facing areas of the garden. Mahonia Winter Sun works great as a border, in urban gardens, container plantings, and as a focal point. 

Mahonia Winter Sun Uses

Low-maintenance Deciduous Shrubs

Deciduous shrubs go through a state of dormancy, causing the loss of leaves during the cooler months to conserve water. This process enables the shrub to survive over the winter months. Typically, deciduous shrubs tend to have green leaves during periods of growth and turn vibrant hues of red, orange, and yellow when the plant begins it’s dormancy phase.

Euonymus Burning Bush

The intense scarlet red fall coloring of Euonymus Burning Bush is a sight to behold. The foliage changes with every season from rich green leaves in the spring to fiery red leaves in the fall. In addition to the beautiful display of color, this low-maintenance evergreen shrub produces red-orange fruits providing a food source for local birds. 

A good shrub to plant in mass, as a foreground to larger evergreen trees, or as a single specimen. One thing to keep in mind is that this shrub while extremely popular for all the reasons stated is considered to be an invasive non-native species, which could be restricted in certain areas of the country. 

Euonymus Burning Bush Uses

Itea Little Henry

Native to North America and pollinator friendly, Itea Little Henry’s green summer foliage converts to a vivid kaleidoscope of orange and red in the autumn months. Itea Little Henry’s adaptable  nature allows it to thrive in full sun to full shade conditions with little to no pruning or other maintenance required. 

Perfect for mass planting on banks, in beds or borders, and makes an excellent addition to any woodland garden. Loved by pollinators - both bees and butterflies when the bush explodes with white fragrant blooms in early spring. This multifaceted shrub is sure to impress.

Itea Little Henry Shrubs Use

Hydrangea Ruby Slippers

Known for their enormous blooms, Hydrangea Ruby Slippers also has rich dark-green foliage that turns a deep mahogany color in the fall. The oak-shaped leaves add interest to garden borders and the compact form of this easy-care shrub makes it ideal for smaller gardens. It is also a good choice as a single specimen, foundation accent, and use as an informal hedge when planted in mass. 

Hydrangea Ruby Slippers Shrub Uses

When designing your garden it is important to consider the desired aesthetics through color, form, line, scale and texture. A major factor in landscape design  is understanding the look and feel of the plant material throughout the seasons. All of the bushes we discussed here today are low-maintenance shrubs, and depending on your use, you should be able to choose one of these amazingly colorful shrubs for your garden. 

Until next time, see you in the garden.

- Woodie