“Fall” in love with these native plants and beautify your autumn landscape!

November 12, 2015

Fall landscapes signal the end of summer and the transition to winter. In the process, the cheerful colors of fall shine, as our plants in the garden give up their final show before the winter season. Some elements like red fruits persist, while others, like the late flowering asters and the wide variety of gorgeous leaves of the deciduous plants, are short-lived.

Below are some examples of great native plants that will add a splash of color to your fall garden. For more information on some of our great native plants that are great garden plants, visit the RainScapes page and review the plant lists in the Resources section.

Enjoy the blast of color!


[toggles class=”yourcustomclass”] [toggle title=”Afterglow or Winterberry Holly” class=”in”]Ilex verticillata, ‘Afterglow’

This is one of the deciduous female winterberry hollies; it will lose its leaves by the end of November, allowing the red fruits to show off in the garden.  Winterberries are great shrubs for rain gardens and provide birds with food throughout the winter. In Spring, the flowers provide early food for honeybees and other native pollinators.  For fruit, this girl needs a mate; Ilex verticillata ‘Jim Dandy’ is the best choice.

Read more information about Afterglow

Afterglow with red berries in the fall

Ilex verticillata in the fall.

Afterglow with berries covered in snow

Ilex verticillata in the winter.

[/toggle] [toggle title=”Eastern Bluestar”]Amsonia tabernaemontana, ‘Eastern Bluestar’ 

When you think of fall color, don’t forget perennials!  The Eastern Bluestar flower is native to the East coast, mainly from Maryland and Southeast toward Virginia and Illinois. Early in the Spring it produces light blue flowers and then provides a handsome dark glossy green backdrop in the summer that turns a bright butter yellow in the fall. This plant can be 2-3 feet tall but shorter cultivars such as ‘Short Stack’ and ‘Blue Ice’ are about half the height of the full size plant.  Its Arkansas cousin, Amsonia hubrichtii, is also widely available but has almost feathery foliage in comparison.  Both are excellent plants for rain gardens and conservation landscapes in full sun and partial shade. Deer and rabbits leave these plants untouched.

Read more information about Eastern Bluestar

Read more information about Arkansas Bluestar

Eastern Bluestar in fall color

Amsonia tabernaemontana

Arkansas Bluestar in fall color

Amsonia hubrichtii

[/toggle] [toggle title=”Blueberries”]Vaccinium, ‘Bluecrop’ and ‘Peach Sorbet’

Bluecrop blueberry is a 5-6 foot tall blueberry plant that produces fruit in the midseason of blueberries. It needs either an early season or late season blueberry to ensure fruit.  In addition to fruit, blueberries are great rain garden plants and this one has great red fall color.  It will grow in full sun if there is adequate water but is drought tolerant and prefers afternoon shade for best results.

Peach Sorbet™ is a new form of blueberry that is bred to be very compact. Peach sorbet has lovely fall color and only gets 1 ½-2’ tall and wide, making it a good selection for containers as well as the front edge of a garden. All blueberries are deciduous but they have attractive white spring flowers and provide a nice landscape addition.

Read more information about Blueberries

Bluecrop in the fall

Vaccinium ‘Bluecrop’

Peach Sorbet in the fall

Vaccinium ‘Peach Sorbet’

[/toggle] [toggle title=”Flowering Dogwood”]Cornus florida, ‘Flowering Dogwood’

Flowering dogwood is a great ornamental tree for the residential landscape.  It is often chosen for its spring floral display but it also provides beautiful fruit that feed birds and other wildlife in the late fall. This very adaptable native small tree grows throughout Eastern North America and is somewhat deer resistant if it can be protected while it’s very young.

Read more information about Flowering Dogwood

Flowering Dogwood in the fall


[toggle title=”Scarletta or Drooping Laurel”]Leucothoe fontanesiana, ‘Scarletta’ or ‘Drooping Laurel’

Drooping Laurel is a native evergreen plant that has white bell shaped flowers in the Spring and provides good winter interest. This cultivar is a dwarf and it rarely gets taller than 3’, and has a similar spread . It prefers moist soils but will tolerate some drought and grows in shade. This plant is good for both shady rain gardens and conservation landscapes and is somewhat deer resistant.

Read more information about Scarletta

Scarletta in the fall

Scarletta in the fall


[toggle title=”English Countryside Aster”]Aster novae-angliae, ‘English Countryside Aster’

This East Coast native cultivar typically flowers until Thanksgiving; some years until Christmas. It is notable because with its late season flowers it offers great pollinator support. This plant is also very drought tolerant and a deer resistant choice for both conservation landscapes and rain gardens. If you can’t find ‘English Countryside’, another aster, Symphotricium oblongifolius (‘Raydon’s Favorite’) is a good substitute.

Read more information about English Countryside Aster

English Countryside Aster in the fall


[toggle title=”Ferns”]Adiatum pedatum, ‘Maidenhair fern’ and Polystichum acrostichoides, ‘Christmas fern’

Maidenhair fern is naturally found in Eastern North America growing in cool stream valleys. However, it is also very drought tolerant, as the ones below show (they are growing under a dogwood). This fern is deciduous, meaning it is not apparent in the winter, but gets 1-2 ½ feet each year when it reemerges from its winter dormancy. Many ferns are great rain garden plants for shady rain gardens and they are also wonderful deer resistant plants for any conservation landscape. For an evergreen fern, consider trying the Christmas fern. Christmas ferns are easy to grow and provide years of ground cover, colonizing areas under trees; they are also suitable for the sideslopes of shady rain gardens.

Read more information about Maidenhair ferns

Read more information about Christmas ferns

Maidenhair fern in the fall

Adiatum pendatum growing in the shade of a dogwood.


[toggle title=”Mapleleaf Viburnum”]Viburnum acerifolium, ‘Mapleleaf Viburnum’

This East Coast native plant has a wide range and a wide tolerance of growing conditions. Viburnum acerifolium is called Mapleleaf Viburnum due to the shape of its leaves. It has white flowers in the spring and beautiful rosy fall leaves, starting in mid-October. It prefers moist soils but is very drought tolerant and can grow in both full sun and shade. The blue-black fruits provide good food for birds in the winter. This plant is good for both rain gardens and conservation landscapes and is deer resistant.

Read more information about Mapleleaf Viburnum

Mapleleaf viburnum in the fall

[/toggle] [/toggles]

Rain garden in the fall

Happy gardening!

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