7 Low-Maintenance Shrubs for Sensational Fall Color

7 Low-Maintenance Shrubs for Sensational Fall Color

Sep 21, 2022

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, fall foliage is truly a spectacle to be savored.

While trees are the number one specimen that comes to mind when you think of fall color, they are not the only plants that burst in a spectacular fall display of color. Keep reading to learn about some low-maintenance shrubs that give fall trees a run for their money when it comes to sensational fall color.

Low-maintenance Evergreen Shrubs For Fall

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 shrubs 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 Gulf Stream

fall foliage nandina gulf stream

Often used in Asian-inspired gardens, Nandina Gulf Stream is a compact, low-growing, broadleaf evergreen that is much more vibrant in color than other nandina shrubs. Nandina, or 'Heavenly Bamboo,' is perfect for small urban gardens and courtyards. The versatile shrub also works beautifully when used as a centerpiece in containers!

New growth emerges in bright lime green with pink-tipped leaves that age to medium green color. As the temperatures drop, the foliage transforms to a fiery burgundy red. Nandina Gulf Stream 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 themselves in the still-warm autumn soil. Nandina Gulf Stream prefers sun to part-shade, will grow about 2 feet tall and up to 3 feet wide, and require little to no maintenance.

Little Richard Abelia

little richard abelia fall shrub

If you are looking for a dramatic low-maintenance evergreen shrub, Little Richard Abelia might just fit the bill!

Boasting dark green foliage in spring and summer, Little Richard works its way into fall with a stunning transition of warm tones. Not to mention the stunning shrub sports fragrant bell-shaped blooms that last through the fall!

This shrub's compact form and low maintenance upkeep makes it ideal for the tightest spots of the garden! Little Richard Abelia works great as a border, in urban gardens, container plantings, and as a focal point.

Low-maintenance Deciduous Shrubs For Fall

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 its dormancy phase.

Admiration Barberry

admiration barberry fall foliage

One look at this shrub and you will be in all the fall feels. The stunning hues of maroons and oranges are contrasted with the vibrant pale yellow edges on the Admiration Barberry shrub.

Best for USDA hardiness zones 4-8, this magnificent autumn shrub thrived in conditions of full sun to partial shade.

The vigorous grower is perfect for spots you are trying to fill fast with stunning colors. Admiration Barberry works in a wide range of yard projects and looks especially beautiful in mixed borders. Pair with Limelight Hydrangeas for a truly show-stopping combination!

Euonymus Burning Bush

euonymus burning bush fall colorThe 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 wildlife.

The Euonymus Burning Bush is an excellent choice for use as a foundation plant to complement 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.

Itea Little Henry

itea little henry fall foliage

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 on 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.

Low-maintenance Blooming Shrubs For Fall

Firelight Hydrangea

firelight hydrangea fall foliage

Known for their enormous blooms, the Firelight Hydrangea also has rich dark-green foliage that turns a deep mahogany color in the fall.

Blooms on this stunning panicle hydrangea begin as a creamy white and transition to a vivid red come autumn. The large and vibrant blooms in addition to the ombre oval-esque leaves easily add interest to garden borders.

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 used as an informal hedge when planted in mass.

Caryopteris Dark Knight

caryopteris dark night fall blooming shrub

If you're in search of a shrub to bring a unique and more unconventional look to your fall landscape, Caryopteris Dark Knight is the shrub for you!

This compact mounding shrub sports a lush array of purple blooms atop a silver-gray foliage. This shrub is great for attracting and supporting local pollinators and will be a stand-out addition to any yard!

Designing Your Fall Landscape

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