9 Plants & Trees for Vibrant Fall Color

The colors of autumn are approaching quickly. If your yard falls short each year when it comes to the reds, purples, oranges and yellows of the season, there’s still time to plant so you can enjoy them next year. Add these Midwest native plants to your fall landscaping checklist for colorful foliage.

Little bluestem

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This Midwest-native perennial glows a warm red-orange or purple hue come fall. Grow in full sun and fast-draining soil.

Burning bush

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This shrub has a large spread and turns bright red in the fall. Its fall color is the reason for it’s name. The burning bush thrives in full sun to part shade and tolerates a wide range of soils. Plant it where it will have plenty of room to expand.

Witch hazel

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Witch hazel is an all-in-one package for fall landscape and gardening enthusiasts. It has vibrant yellow leaves in early autumn, flowers in late fall and fragrance throughout the year. Witch hazel is actually the only tree In North America to have flowers, ripe fruit and next year’s leaf buds on its branches at the same time. Plant this tree in sun to partial shade.

Fragrant sumac

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This deciduous shrub turns blazing orange come fall. Grow it anywhere in full sun to part shade. This plant can handle just about any soil type as long as it drains efficiently.

Oakleaf hydrangea

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This hydrangea shrub boasts a bronze-purple sheen in fall. It’s a great perennial, because it has four seasons of interest. Plant it in well-drained but moist soil.


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Summersweet is an ornamental shrub that blooms in the summer and attracts a swarm of butterflies and hummingbirds. In the fall, the leaves of a summersweet turn a clear, golden yellow. This plant type is adaptable and can grow mostly anywhere from full sun to full shade.

Fringe tree

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This shub-shaped tree boasts beautiful yellow leaves in the fall. The “fringe” portion of it’s name comes from the drooping white flowers that bloom in the spring. It thrives in moist, well-drained soil.

Smoke bush


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This bush’s maroon summer leaves turn a vibrant purple come autumn. Plant in full sun and well-drained soil.

Gingko tree

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Gingko trees showcase fan-shaped leaves in a spectacular golden color. They do best planted in full sun with regular to moderate water, but Gingko trees shouldn’t be planted on small properties. Beautiful as they are, the Gingko tree has an aggressive root system that can create havoc on pavement and underground pipes.

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