Tag Archive: Shrubs

  1. 3 Steps to Growing Great Roses (With No Fuss)

    Strike it Rich® is a glorious Grandiflora with exceptional disease resistance. (Photo by Jessie Keith)

    Got rose problems? Over 20 common pests and diseases plague roses, threatening the beauty of many a rose-filled yard and garden. But, rose growers can take heart. You can have the beauty of roses without the burden of doing constant battle with pests and diseases.  It all comes down to choosing resistant varieties and giving them the right care. Here are the three key steps to growing great roses without the fuss.

    1) Pick a winner.

    This is the most important step! Old roses are often the most fragrant and beautiful, but they are more often maintenance nightmares. Classic Hybrid Tea and Grandiflora (and other) rose varieties were bred for their voluptuous, iconic flowers, with little consideration for the plants’ overall vigor and disease resistance.  Consequently, they’re susceptible to a slew of diseases including blackspot, powdery mildew, and stem cankers.  They’re also easy marks for rose chafers, Japanese beetles, rose slugs, and a host of other insects that prey on roses.

    ‘Carefree Beauty’ is a wonderful shrub rose that will resist many common rose diseases. (Photo by Jessie Keith)

    In recent years, breeders have developed and introduced new hybrids that resist diseases and pests.   Most familiar of these are a number of “landscape” roses (such as the Knockout series) noted for their tough shrubby growth and abundant, relatively small, typically scentless flowers.  Rose fanciers who are looking for something with taller stems and larger, more fragrant blooms will also find plenty of low-maintenance roses to choose from, however – including several Hybrid Tea and Grandiflora cultivars that rival anything in their class.  Notable sources – and cultivars – include:

    The German firm Kordes:  Their Grandiflora rose ‘Eliza’ produces a succession of lightly fragrant, double pink blooms on tall stems.  The repeat-blooming climber ‘Moonlight’ carries nicely scented peachy-yellow flowers.  ‘Yankee Doodle’ is a tall, vigorously growing Hybrid Tea with intensely fragrant, double, apricot-pink roses.

    Rosa PINK KNOCK OUT® is a classic, disease-free Knock Out rose planted for its strong disease resistance. (Photo by Jessie Keith)

    The Explorers Hybrids from Canada:  This collection of rock-hardy roses includes the Rosa rugosa hybrid ‘Jens Munk’, which bears 2.5-inch, double, medium-pink flowers on shrubby plants.  It also includes several outstanding, repeat-blooming climbers.  ‘William Baffin’ produces several flushes of dark pink flowers beginning in late June, and ‘John Cabot’ covers itself with double, fuchsia-red flowers from early summer to fall.  Both can grow to 10 feet or more.

    The Iowa breeder Griffith Buck:  Among his many outstanding introductions are the pink-flowered Hybrid Tea ‘Earth Song’, and the shrub rose ‘Carefree Beauty’, with large pink flowers.

    Weeks Roses: Many Weeks introductions are graced with fine fragrance, good looks, and remarkable disease resistance. The introduction Strike it Rich®, bred by Tom Carruth, is a testament to their rose-breeding prowess.

    Rosa rugosa ‘Hansa’ is a tough rugosa rose that grows well in coastal gardens. (Photo by Jessie Keith)

    Anything of Rosa rugosa parentage: These rough and tough roses include the bright pink ‘Hansa’, dark red ‘Linda Campbell’, bright yellow ‘Topaz Jewel’, and the intensely fragrant, white-flowered ‘Blanc Double de Coubert’.

    The French rose breeder Meilland:   ‘Francis Meilland’ is a Hybrid Tea with double, silvery pink roses on tall stems.  The similarly hued double flowers of the Grandiflora ‘Mother of Pearl’ have a light, sprightly scent.  Dark red, heavy-scented, fully double flowers crown the 4- to 5-foot stems of the Hybrid Tea rose‘Traviata’.

    2) Choose the right soil and the site.

    Roses thrive in full sun and rich, healthy, humus-rich soil.  Before you plant your rose, amend the soil with Fafard Premium Natural & Organic Compost. It adds rich organic matter for increased water-holding capacity and porosity. Follow up by adding fertilizer formulated for roses. This will encourage strong growth and flowering.

    Ample air circulation helps too.  Plant your prize rose in a hole that’s at least twice as wide as its root ball, and amend the backfill and surrounding soil with compost and organic fertilizer.  Then apply a 1- to 2-inch layer of mulch to keep the roots moist and cool (and keep the soil microorganisms happy!).  Plants should be well spaced to allow air flow.

    3) Maintain!

    If you see rose rosette “witches brooms” remove your roses. There is no cure for this contagious disease. (Photo by Jessie Keith)

    Prune out all diseased growth in spring and throughout the growing season (dip pruners in a 10% bleach solution to reduce the chance of accidentally spreading disease from rose to rose). Be on particular lookout for the red “witches brooms” that signal the presence of rose rosette disease, a destructive disease for which there is no cure. Roses that have contracted rose rosette disease should be quickly removed from the garden.

    Thin stems in spring and summer to encourage air circulation and discourage diseases.   Tolerate modest insect damage, but treat plants with the appropriate OMRI Listed® insecticide if insects reach high levels.  Rake and remove fallen vegetation, which may harbor disease-causing fungal spores.  Apply rose fertilizer and a layer of compost each spring.  Plant “companion” perennials (such as members of the parsley and daisy families) that harbor beneficial insects.  And remember to water during dry spells!

    The right rose in the right place (with the right maintenance) will provide years of beauty with a minimum of grief.  It will also astonish your acquaintances who think that beautiful roses require lots of care for great looks.

    Rosa ‘Red Cascade’ is a rare old-fashioned miniature climbing rose that is disease resistant and prolific! (Photo by Jessie Keith)

  2. The Best Landscape Hydrangeas

    Hydrangea macrophylla 'Harlequin' JaKMPM

    Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Harlequin’ only performs well in USDA zones 6b to 9. (photo by Jessie Keith)

     

    Hydrangeas, circa 1970, were a bit of a bore, represented by a few stodgy standbys such as the Victorian, mophead-flowered PeeGee hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata ‘Grandiflora’). Today, however, they’re the epitome of horticultural cool, with numerous new and exciting varieties to choose from.

    Witness, for example, what’s happening in the world of Hydrangea paniculata. Where once there was only ‘Grandiflora’, there now are dozens of seductive cultivars of this East Asian native, in a variety of shapes and colors. Many bear lacy, white steeples in the manner of ‘Tardiva’, an old (and – until recently—neglected) variety that is still unsurpassed for its showy blooms that peak in August and September, weeks later than most other paniculatas. Comprising both large, sterile florets and small, fertile florets, the blossoms possess an airy elegance that eludes ‘Grandiflora’ and other sterile-flowered, mophead forms. Numerous other excellent ‘Tardiva’ types – such as ‘Kyushu’ and ‘Chantilly Lace’ – have recently entered the scene. Most flower in midsummer.

    Hydrangea paniculata 'Tardiva'

    Hydrangea paniculata ‘Tardiva’

    Some recent cultivars come in hues and sizes that are new to the paniculata tribe. The lacy spires of ‘Pink Diamond’ and the early-summer-blooming ‘Quick Fire’ gradually evolve from white to dark pink, passing through a beguiling bicolored phase along the way. In contrast, ‘Limelight’ deepens its snowball blooms to an astonishing chartreuse-green that glows most brightly in partial shade. The dwarf cultivar ‘Little Lime’ does similar things on a smaller scale (4 to 5 feet tall rather than the typical 8 to 12). It exemplifies another welcome paniculata trend: compact cultivars that fit nicely in smaller gardens. White-flowered examples include ‘Little Lamb’ and ‘Bobo’.

    Even the stodgy old PeeGee hydrangea has undergone a makeover, with the introduction of several cultivars (including ‘Unique and ‘Webb’s’) that outdo ‘Grandiflora’ in the size and showiness of their snowball inflorescences.

    Most paniculata cultivars respond well to severe pruning in early spring, which restricts their height, increases their inflorescence size, and slightly delays their bloom. In whatever form, they’re among the hardiest and most adaptable ornamental shrubs, thriving in full to partial sun from USDA hardiness zones 3 to 8.

    Hydrangea quercifolia 'Alice' JaKMPM

    Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Alice’ (photo by Jessie Keith)

    Cold-hardiness is much more of an issue for undoubtedly the most popular hydrangea species. Prized in USDA zones 6b to 9 for its reliable summer display of showy blue, pink, or white blossoms, Hydrangea macrophylla has long been the despair of gardeners in zones 5 to 6a. There, it typically dies to the ground in winter, resulting in a disappointing summer display of lush foliage and few to no blooms. Breeders are hard at work, however, on a new generation of “re-blooming” cultivars that flower on the current year’s growth. Several have made it to market, including the much-hyped blue-flowered mophead ‘Endless Summer’. To date, none of these ballyhooed newcomers are consistent performers in zones 4 and 5, alas. But for gardeners in milder zones, these and other recent introductions make for a larger selection of Hydrangea macrophylla cultivars than ever before.

    Several other highly ornamental East Asian hydrangeas (such as Hydrangea serrata, H. aspera, and H. heteromalla) are increasingly available from American nurseries. All are well worth trying, where hardy.

    Hydrangea quercifolia 'Sikes' Dwarf' qg 62708

    Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Sikes’ Dwarf’

    Two eastern North American species have also seen a significant fashion upgrade in the past few decades. Fifty years ago, Hydrangea arborescens meant one thing: ‘Grandiflora’, commonly known as Hills of Snow. A classic pass-along plant, this suckering, 4-foot shrub formed many a backyard thicket, topped in summer by mildly ornamental , loosely structured, 6-inch globes of dull-white sterile florets.

    Today, ‘Grandiflora’ has numerous successors, most operating on a grander (and floppier) scale. Their queen mother is the ubiquitous ‘Annabelle’, whose foot-wide midsummer domes are notorious for toppling. Her several imitators, such as ‘Incrediball’, also topple, as does the recently introduced pink-flowered snowball, ‘Invincibelle Spirit’.

    Gardeners looking for a sturdier (and more charming) arborescens variety can opt for the ravishing ‘Mary Nell’, which bears showy, stylish, snow-white lacecaps on stout 4-foot stems. Another wonderful option is Hydrangea arborescens ssp. radiata, whose leaves are often lined underneath with a luminous silver-white felting that flashes in the breeze.

    Garden Manure BlendOakleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia) is yet another eastern U.S. native that offers many more delicious possibilities than ever before, including several pink-flowered and double-flowered varieties. The best (such as ‘Snow Queen’) produce showy spires on strong flop-resistant stems furnished with bold, deeply lobed leaves that turn burgundy-red in fall. Full-size selections grow to 7 or more feet, but gardeners with more limited space can now choose from a bevy of excellent compact-growing cultivars including ‘Munchkin’, ‘PeeWee’, and Sikes Dwarf’. Of particular note is ‘Ruby Slippers’, a compact variety whose flowers age from the usual white to a much less typical deep pink.

    Hydrangeas grow well in a variety of partial shade and sun locations, so long as they have fertile garden soil that drains well. Amending yearly with organic amendments, such as Fafard  Garden Mature Blend, and top dressing with leaf mulch will help support plants and encourage best growth.

  3. Fast-to-Force Flowering Branches for Indoor Arrangements

    Early-flowering Cornus mas has great branches for forcing.

    Early-flowering Cornus mas has great branches for forcing.

    So many beautiful spring-flowering trees and shrubs have branches that can be forced early for a little indoor spring in late winter. The process is simple but forcing times vary from plant to plant. Fast-to-force branches are the most satisfying, and the color they bring to the table never disappoints. All you need are some shears, water, flower food, and a little patience.

    The earliest flowering shrubs of the spring are often the best to choose. They typically only require short forcing times. Many of the early bloomers are fragrant as well as colorful, which helps them make an even more pronounced statement for table arrangements.

    Pussy willow branches force and root quickly for pretty cut flowers and new shrub starts to share with friends.

    Pussy willow branches force and root quickly for pretty cut flowers and new shrub starts to share with friends.

    Some of the better common quick-blooming branches for forcing are golden Forsythia (Forsythia x intermedia), fothergilla (Fothergilla spp.), pussy willows (Salix caprea), curly willow (Salix matsudana ‘Tortuosa), honeysuckle (Lonicera spp.), Cornelian cherry (Cornus mas), serviceberry (Amelanchier spp.), and bridal wreath spirea (Spiraea prunifolia), all of which will force in around two weeks. The branches of many popular flowers shrubs that bloom a little later, like Rhododendron, dogwood, cherry, and lilac, typically take more time to force, often between four and five weeks.

    How and When to Harvest Branches

    Branches only force well in late-winter when they have been outside and dormant for long enough through winter.  Late January to February is the perfect window for harvest time.

    When pruning branches, be sure to selectively remove those that should be pruned off anyway. That way, you will be killing two birds with one stone. Crossing, old, or out-of-place branches are the best to prune off and bring inside.

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    The best homemade floral preservative contains warm water, lemon-lime soda, and a little bleach.

    Cut branches with sharp, bypass pruners as opposed to anvil types that crush branch tissue.  (I like Felco 2 classic pruners.) Clean cuts will enable branches to take up water and food more efficiently, which will result in prettier, more successful flowering. Make branch cuts ¼ inch above a bud and select branches between 1 to 3 feet long, depending on the size and impact of the display you want for the final arrangement. Cut branches should be placed in a container of water immediately, so have a bucket or jar on hand at cutting time.

    Forcing Branches

    Bring the branches indoors, and using a floral knife, cut the bases of the branches at 45 degree angles. Then immediately place them back in the water. This maximizes their ability to take in nutrients and water. Cold water is best, especially if outdoor temperatures are below the freezing point. Branches should always be held upright in the container, and the water should only cover the first inch of the branch bases.

    After a day or so, replace the container water with slightly warm water, and add a homemade flower preservative made from the following: 2 cups lemon-lime soda, 2 cups warm water, and ½ teaspoon bleach (recipe care of Purdue Extension). At this point, the branches need to be stored in a cool place with moderate light, and the container’s water level needs to be maintained at its original depth. After a week or so, the buds should start to plump up and show some color.

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    Forsythia branches are some of the easiest to force!

    Once the signs of bud break appear, place your branches in a warmer, brighter spot with indirect sunlight, and arrange them in a vase with added flower food. In a matter of days, they should be blooming and beautiful!

    After flowering, the bases of some of your branches may root. This is most common with pussy willow and curly willow. If this happens, be sure to pot up your cuttings.

    Plant the rooted cuttings in 1-gallon pots filled with Fafard Professional Potting Mix, and keep the pots moist in a cool, well-lit location until the threat of frost has passed. Once the weather has warmed up, the cuttings should have rooted well enough to be planted in the ground. You might even want to share some with friends, so they can force their own winter branches in the future and keep the cycle of sharing going.

  4. Variegated Evergreens for Winter Landscaping

    Osmanthus heterophyllus ‘Goshiki’ has spectacular winter color! (photo by Jessie Keith)

    Daylight starts its annual return with the Winter Solstice, but cold gray days continue well into the New Year. Gardens, shorn of flowers and deciduous leaves, are stark. In winter, evergreens make all the difference. And variegated varieties, their leaves edged, striped or splashed in contrasting tones, add zest and color to the landscape. With choice specimens available in many sizes and shapes, the only constant is variety.

    2014-08-29_13_46_38_Variegated_English_Holly_at_the_Pinelands_Preservation_Alliance_headquarters_in_Southampton_Township,_New_Jersey

    English holly Argenteomarginata’ has bright white edges. (photo by FaMartin)

    Holly: English holly (Ilex aquifolia), brightens landscapes and winter arrangements with glossy green leaves and vibrant red berries on female plants. Variegated varieties include ‘Argenteomarginata’, with white leaf edges and ‘Aureomarginata’, featuring yellow borders. Both can be grown as large shrubs or small trees, reaching up to 20 feet tall and 12 feet wide, with a pyramidal habit. Variegated English holly thrives in full sun to light shade. Nearby male varieties provide necessary pollination for female plants.

    ‘Golden King’ is one such male. An English holly hybrid (Ilex x altaclerensis), it features slightly more rounded leaves than its parent and golden variegation on the leaf edges. Developed at England’s Highclere Castle, home to TV’s “Downton Abbey”, it grows up to 24 feet tall and 12 feet wide.

    Winter Daphne: Winter or fragrant daphne (Daphne odora) is aptly named. The fragrant flowers appear very early—in late winter or early spring. With leathery leaves and a mounding habit, shade-tolerant winter daphne makes a good hedging or specimen plant, especially in alkaline soil. Tempting variegated varieties include: ‘Aureomarginata’,with yellow leaf margins, ‘Rubra Variegata’, featuring rosy pink flowers and white-edged foliage and ‘Variegata’, with soft pink blooms and bright yellow leaf margins.

    False Holly: It’s easy to mistake false holly or holly olive (Osmanthus heterophyllus), for the real thing. The dense, spiny leaves resemble those of English holly, though false holly does not produce its namesake’s bright red fruits. Osmanthus is a densely-leafed, upright shrub that grows into an oval shape and usually tops out at 8 to 10 feet tall and wide. It can also be clipped into standard form. Variegated false hollies abound, including ‘Aureomarginata’, with yellow leaf edges; the eye-catching ‘Goshiki’, bearing foliage marked with flecks of gold, cream and green; ‘Kembu’, featuring white leaf margins and flecks and ‘Variegatus’, with white-edged leaves.

    Variegated

    Variegated wintercreeper is one of the easiest evergreens to grow.

    Euonymus: The large euonymus genus contains many variegated evergreens. Wintercreeper (Euonymus fortunei) is one of them. Some of the best known varieties are low-growers, less than 12 inches tall, with small, dark green or blue-green leaves. With its spreading habit and adaptability to varying light situations, wintercreeper works as a groundcover, rock garden subject, or erosion controller. Among the many variegated varieties are: ‘Emerald ‘n Gold’, with yellow leaf margins on leaves that turn pinkish in winter; the taller ‘Gold Splash’, which grows to 3 feet tall and wide; ‘Moonshadow’, with green-edged yellow leaves; ‘Silver Queen’, featuring yellow margins that age to white and ‘Sunshine,’ bearing gray-green centers and gold edges. Use wintercreeper carefully. It has been reported as invasive in some areas. One way to keep it in check is to grow it in large pots and trim as necessary. Give containerized wintercreeper a good start by using a quality potting mixture like Fafard Natural and Organic Potting Mix.

    Japanese Euonymus (Euonymus japonicus) is a shrubby plant, topping out at 10 to 15 feet tall and half as wide. Like most euonymus, the species bears shiny green, ovoid leaves that are opposed on the stems. Variegated varieties of this rather formal hedging plant include ‘Albomarginatus’ and ‘Aureomarginatus’, bearing white and gold leaf edges respectively. ‘Latifolius Albomarginatus’ also features white margins, but has broader leaves than ‘Albomarginatus’ and gray-green leaf centers.

    Spotted Laurel: Shade-loving spotted laurel (Aucuba japonica) is easy to spot. The hardy plants, often used for hedging, grow up to 10 feet tall, with a nearly equal spread. Spotted laurel leaves are somewhat leathery and up to 8 inches long. Purple spring flowers are an added bonus, giving way to red fall fruits on female plants. ‘Mr. Goldstrike’, a male plant that can serve as a pollinator for female spotted laurels, is dramatic and generously dappled with golden speckles. ‘Variegata’ is a gold-flecked female variety, originally introduced in 1783 and known as the “gold dust plant.” Another notable spotted laurel is ‘Goldieana’, featuring a solid splotch of gold on each long, green leaf.
    Evergreens provide the horticultural music in quiet winter gardens. Variegation makes that music swing.

  5. Winterberry Garden Gems

    Ilex verticillata JaKMPM

    The bright red berries of the classic Ilex verticillata ‘Winter Red’ shine through much of the cold season.

    Berries of cardinal red, golden yellow and orange stud the branches of winterberries (Ilex verticillata) like late-season gemstones. When planted together in masses, they offer clouds of landscape color that can be appreciated both close up and from afar. Cut branches the for festive holiday arrangements or simply keep them outdoors for the birds to eventually devour after more desirable winter food becomes scarce.

    Native to the whole of eastern North America, winterberries are decicuous hollies that offer little more than inconspicuous white flowers in early to mid spring and green foliage in summer, but when they produce their bright berries in fall, and the leaves drop, they shine. Like most hollies, they tend to be dioecious, which means some plants product male flowers and some produce female flowers. Only the female flowers produce fruit, so it is essential to know the sex of your plants because a male pollenizer is required. For this reason, varieties are sold as either male or female, so be sure to plant at least one of each. For larger plantings of winterberry, plant one male shrub to every five females.

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    ‘Wintergold’ is a pretty, gold-berried selection that’s commonly sold at garden centers and nurseries.

    There are no shortage of cool winterberry varieties and each year more are introduced. With the newer, better variants, these shrubs become more and more popular as garden and landscape plants. Many have denser, larger berries. Others come in interesting shades within the warm color spectrum.

    Of the red-berried selections, Berry Nice® has bright red, medium sized berries that heavily cover the branches of this tall shrub and remain for a long time into winter. Another with lots of berries is Berry Heavy®, the difference being that the berries are quite large. The more delicately fruited ‘Sparkleberry’ is an introduction by the  U.S. National Arboretum, which has very long-lasting scarlet fruits that appear on large, upright shrubs. And one cannot write about winterberries without mentioning the classic ‘Winter Red’, which is a reliable variety with consistently beautiful red fruit. The dwarf ‘Red Sprite’, which reaches only three to five feet, is a pretty variety for small gardens. All of these female shrubs can be pollinated by ‘Mr. Poppins’. 

    The tangerine berried ‘Aurantiaca’, is tall and vigorous and looks uniquely beautiful in winter. Plant it alongside yellow- and red-twigged dogwoods for a real color explosion. Of the gold and yellow berried varieties, the classic ‘Winter Gold’ offers consistent good looks with its rich, golden berries. Berry Heavy® Gold is a new variety that becomes so heavily loaded with bright gold berries it literally drips with color.

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    The unusual, orange-berried ‘Aurantiaca’ has exceptional good looks.

    Winterberries are adaptable thriving in full to partial sun and moist to average soils on the acid side. Fruiting is most spectacular in plants given fuller sun. Before planting a new winterberry, be sure to amend the soil with organic-rich amendments like Fafard Premium Natural & Organic Compost Blend and Sphagnum Peat Moss. New shrubs are best planted in spring but are also cold tolerant enough to be planted in fall.

    Winterberries of all colors look outstanding when planted together in great swaths. Their bright, cheerful good looks consistently make a big landscape statement that will have your friends wanting to plant their own.

  6. The Best Fall Leaves

    Rainbow Flowering Dogwood

    The tricolored leaves of Rainbow flowering dogwood (Cornus florida ‘Rainbow) are a fall delight!

    Cool, moist, bountiful summers lead to gloriously bright fall leaves. Why? Because the healthier the trees and shrubs, the brighter and more colorful the leaf pigments. (Leaf pigments require a lot of energy to make, which is why plants need to be healthy and productive to produce a lot.) So, if the growing season has been generous, the season’s leaf colors should be off the charts!

    A blackgum (Nyssa sylvatica) glows against fall blue skies.

    It’s almost like magic when the fall leaves turn from green to fiery fall shades. Red, yellow, orange and purple fall leaf colors are present even in summer, but they are hidden behind a mask of green chlorophyll. This dominant green pigment hides nearly all other leaf pigments until temperatures cool down and leaves begin to die in autumn. As the leaves end their cycle, water-soluble chlorophyll breaks down while many of the brighter leaf pigments remain intact. So at the end of the season, leaves truly show off their true colors (or underlying pigments).

    Different pigment types produce different leaf colors, and there are three primary pigments, including chlorophyll. The two other types are carotenoids and anthocyanins. Carotenoids (think carrots) are water repellent and product bright yellow and orange colors in fall leaves. (The most common carotenoid is the healthful ß-carotene, which is in many of the foods we eat.) Anthocyanins are water-soluble and responsible for red leaf colors as well as purplish leaf colors. When the green chlorophyll in the chloroplast dies away, carotenoids and anthocyanins are the showy pigments left behind.

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    Sugar maple (Acer saccharum) leaves turn the finest shades of orange and gold.

    Best Gold and Orange Fall Leaves

    Of the yellow-, gold- and orange-leaved fall shrubs, few are as nice as native witch hazels (Hamamelis virginiana) and Fothergilla (Fothergilla major and F. minor). The low, spreading fragrant sumac (Rhus aromatica ‘Gro Low’) is also a winning shrub with bright gold and orange color. For peachy golden orange leaves, nothing is better than the sugar maple (Acer saccharum); the cultivars ‘Legacy’ and ‘Green Mountain’ are particularly bright orange show stoppers. Two more trees of note include the two deciduous conifers, the eastern larch (Larix laricina), which has lovely golden needles, and bald cypress (Taxodium distichum), which turns rich russet orange. Finally, the pure gold leaves of the ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba) look like golden fans on the limb before they quickly fall to the ground creating a bright carpet of color.

    Best Red Fall Leaves

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    The red maple (Acer rubrum) is a classic tree for great fall red color.

    Gardeners love red-leaved trees and few are as crimson in fall as the red maple ‘October Glory’ (Acer rubrum ‘October Glory’), though the Freeman maple Autumn Blaze (Acer x freemanii ‘Jeffersred’ AUTUMN BLAZE) is a contender. A desirable tree with pleasing russet red leaves is the shumard oak (Quercus schumardii) while the native blackgum (Nyssa sylvatica) offers leaves of the finest scarlet. Sumacs (Rhus spp.) of all manner of brilliance typically redden roadsides across North America, and a few like Prairie Flame Dwarf Sumac (Rhus copallinum var. latifolia ‘Morton’ PRAIRIE FLAME) are also great for the landscape. Two more superb red-leaved fall shrubs of desire are the chokeberry (Aronia arbutifolia ‘Brilliantissima’) and the orange-red-leaved Canadian serviceberry (Amelanchier canadensis).

    Best Purple Fall Leaves

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    The purple-red fall leaves of sourwood (Oxydendrum arboreum) trees are unique and attractive.

    Many fall beauties have leaves emboldened with both purple and red hues. The ever-beautiful oakleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea quericifolia) is one of these as is the classic flowering dogwood (Cornus florida). Of the flowering dogwoods, the disease-resistant cultivar ‘Appalachian Spring’, with its crimson-purple fall leaves, is the most recommended, but the tricolored cultivar ‘Rainbow’ is also a visual delight. The wonderfully hardy American cranberrybush (Viburnum opulus var. americanum) also turns pleasing shades of purple and red come autumn. And when it comes to trees with impressive purple shades, the sourwood (Oxydendrum arboreum) and sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua) are both exceptional.

    There are several ways to keep fall-fantastic trees and shrubs in prime health for the autumnal show. First, it is important to keep them well-irrigated during very dry periods. A mulch of rich compost or well-deteriorated bark will also help them retain summer moisture while dissuading weeds at the root zone. Fafard Premium Organic Compost is an excellent product for seasonal mulching. And if care and the season have been generous, take time to enjoy the fleeting but glorious color of fall.

    Rhus glabra fall color foliage2

    Smooth sumac (Rhus glabra) is one of the better native shrubs for crimson color.