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Featured image for Fall Foliage: Best Trees and Shrubs for Red Fall Color

Fall Foliage: Best Trees and Shrubs for Red Fall Color

November 12, 2020
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Crisp air in the morning, fallen leaves crunching under your shoes, bright pumpkins placed on porches—there's nothing like the fall season.

Best of all is the gorgeous flush of color that trees and shrubs present. If you're looking for ways to bring that autumn glow to your yard, you’re in the right place!

Read below to find the best shrubs and best trees for colorful fall foliage.

Best Trees for Red Fall Foliage

1. Autumn Blaze Maple Tree: This vibrant tree is a hybrid of the red and silver maple. It has a full, bushy shape and turns fiery red early in the fall season.

  • Zones: 3-8
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun, meaning 6 hours of unfiltered sunlight per day
  • Soil Needs: Plant in moist, well-drained soil
  • Height: 40-50 ft

2. Fireglow Upright Red Japanese Maple: This compact tree has cascading branches and deep red fall leaves.

  • Zones: 5-9
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun or partial shade
  • Soil Needs: Plant in moist, well-drained soil
  • Height: 12-15 ft

3. Coral Bark Japanese Maple: Plant this tree for an interesting change in color throughout the fall season. Early in fall, leaves turn golden yellow. Then, just before leaves drop for winter, they turn rosy red.

  • Zones: 5-9
  • Sun Exposure: Morning sun and light shade in the afternoon
  • Soil Needs: Plant in well-drained, sandy soil
  • Height: 15-25 ft

4. Red Rocket Crape Myrtle: This petite tree is known for its cherry red, crinkled flowers.

  • Zones: 7-9
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun, meaning 6 hours of unfiltered sunlight per day
  • Soil Needs: Plant in moist, well-drained soil
  • Height: 10-15 ft

5. Shumard Oak Tree: The towering Shumard oak tree is pyramid-shaped. It’s among one of the first oak trees to show off brilliant red color in the fall season.

  • Zones: 5-9
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun, meaning 6 hours of unfiltered sunlight per day
  • Soil Needs: Can grow in a variety of soils, including acidic, alkaline, and loamy
  • Height: 40-60 ft

6. Black gum: This large tree goes by many names, including tupelo, black tupelo, and sour gum. No matter what you call it, one thing’s for sure: its scarlet red fall color is a beautiful sight to see.

  • Zones: 4-9
  • Sun Exposure: Full or partial sun, which is at least 4 hours of unfiltered sunlight per day
  • Soil Needs: Best grown in acidic, well-draining soil
  • Height: 30-50 ft

Best Shrubs for Red Fall Foliage

1. Flame Amur Maple Shrub: This large shrub puts out great fall color with a vibrant mix of red and orange leaves.

  • Zones: 2-8
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun or partial shade
  • Soil Needs: Prefers moist, well-drained soil, but it can tolerate clay soil
  • Height: 15-20 ft

2. Oakleaf Hydrangea: This shrub’s oak-shaped leaves turn purplish-red in fall and keep their color well into the winter season.

  • Zones: 5-9
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun or partial shade
  • Soil Needs: Well-drained soil that’s rich in moisture
  • Height: 4-8 ft

3. Fothergilla ‘Mt. Airy’: This small shrub trades in its white summertime flowers and green leaves for red-orange color in mid-fall.

  • Zones: 5-8
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun, but it can also tolerate light shade
  • Soil Needs: Prefers moist, acidic soil
  • Height: 3-5 ft

4. Witch Hazel: This plant can be grown as a large shrub or small tree. It bursts into shades of bright yellow and cherry red in fall.

  • Zones: 3-8
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun or partial shade
  • Soil Needs: Prefers moist soils, but tolerates a variety of soil types
  • Height: 15-30 ft

5. Viburnum: There are several types of viburnum shrubs, from arrowwood to leatherleaf viburnum. They come in a range of sizes, and the deciduous types turn one of many shades of red in the fall season.

  • Zones: 2-11
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
  • Soil Needs: Plant in moist, well-drained soil
  • Height: 3-8 ft or above

6. Burning bush: Grown as a mid-size shrub or small tree, the burning bush is named for its fiery red fall leaves. It’s often used as a border or hedge plant.

  • Zones: 4-8
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade, but full sun is preferred for the best fall color
  • Soil Needs: Plant in moist, well-drained soil
  • Height: 5-15 ft

Here’s a guide on what to plant in the fall.

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