Along with scary skeletons, carved pumpkins and graveyard ghouls, “spooky” plants bring out the best of the season and add life to outdoor Halloween décor. Here are a few of our team’s picks for spookiest (e.g., favorite) fall plants.
Cheyenne Spirit Echinacea (Echinacea hybrid ‘ Cheyenne Spirit’)
Cheyenne Spirit Echinacea
“Fall is my favorite season because of the weather,” says Kurt Everett, regional sales manager. “The fall season has a certain smell, whether it’s football or cookouts. I’d take fall weather 300 days a year.”
Kurt’s pick for plant-of-the-season is Cheyenne Spirit Echinacea. Maybe it’s because of the “spirits” roaming from doorbell to doorbell on Halloween night – or maybe not. “There’s really nothing spooky about it, but the mix of red, yellow and orange colors remind me of fall.”
Double Play® Candy Corn® Spirea (Spirea japonica)
Double Play® Candy Corn® Spirea
Double Play® Candy Corn® Spirea is seemingly made for Halloween because of its sweet name, but evolving foliage color makes this shrub a four-season favorite, says Duane Huss, nursery manager. Starting in early spring, new growth emerges candy-apple red. Abundant purple flowers seem to mask the foliage in late spring and early summer.
Double Play® Candy Corn® Spirea then turns pineapple-yellow as it matures and says ‘trick or treat’ when it ends its show bright orange in the fall. Low maintenance and deer resistant, it’s also no-fuss for maintenance, water, soil and pruning. That means more time to enjoy the season with the kids. “The weather is cooling off and it’s really nice to do outdoor activities,” Duane says.
Twilight Zone Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium ‘Twilight Zone’)
Twilight Zone Little Bluestem
Come on – you hear it don’t you? That high-pitched staccato television theme song that’s ubiquitously Halloween? Yeah, we’re not talking about that. Twilight Little Bluestem “is a tough native grass and this variety is a real color standout,” says Caitlin Hupp, regional sales manager. “It has silver-blue foliage early on and takes on purple tones in the fall.”
Do-do, do-do, do-do… It thrives in hot, dry spaces. Its dimensions (2 to 4 feet tall and 1 to 2 feet wide) make it a space-saving problem solver that is out of this world. “I love the fall season and Halloween,” Caitlin says. “The weather is perfect for being outside and with all the fun fall activities, my family has a lot of fun together.”
Black Lace® Elderberry (Sambucus nigra)
Black Lace® Elderberry
Reminiscent of witches’ fingers? Nah. Black Lace® Elderberry’s purple-black foliage is cut like lace appliques on a lady’s gown. Creamy pink flowers in early summer give way to black-red berries in fall. “I like the foliage. To me it has a ‘Dr. Seuss’ aspect,” says Mike Sellars, nursery generalist.
Tough and adaptable, Black Lace® Elderberry makes itself at home in a variety of challenging environmental conditions. Plant it in part shade to sun for a mature height and width of 6 to 8 feet. Its unique, lacy-black foliage is a standout in the landscape. And as Mike says, “The best part of the season are the colors – and football.”
Fire Chief™ Globe Arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis ‘Congabe’)\
Fire Chief™ Arborvitae
As shipping manager at Loma Vista Nursery, Angie Gutierrez sees every plant that moves off our dock. What’s her fall favorite? “For me it’s Fire Chief™ Arborvitae,” she says. “Orange-red against green foliage looks so cool and different.”
Combined with its vibrant color, Fire Chief™ Arborvitae has soft, finely textured foliage. It thrives in soil that is evenly moist and well drained. No pruning is necessary to maintain its rounded form. At maturity, this arborvitae is 4 feet tall and wide. Plant it with hydrangeas, lilacs and Russian sage. It requires full sun and performs best in USDA Hardiness Zones 5 to 8. Toast this fall plant pick with Angie’s other favorites – “pumpkin spice treats and drinks,” she says.
Frontier Elm (Ulmus carpinifolia x parvifolia ‘Frontier’)
Loma Vista Nursery President Lyndsi Oestmann’s fall plant pick is Frontier Elm. “Elms always remind me of the movie ‘Nightmare on Elm Street,’” she says. “I have very vivid memories of my dad dressing up as Freddy Kruger when I was a little kid and it was spooky!” Lyndsi likes Frontier Elm because it’s tough.
“It holds up to street plantings and other torturous environments, including drought,” she says. Frontier Elm is adaptable in USDA Hardiness Zones 4 through 10. It is fast growing but stays at a manageable size (about 25 feet high and 15 feet wide when it’s 15 to 20 years old).
“It has a tremendous red-purple color that is unusual for an elm,” Lyndsi says. “Combine all that with great disease resistance and this tree pretty much has it all. I love the fall colors at the nursery – especially also Tiger Eyes® Sumac and Gold Pillar® Barberry and all the sugar maples, red maples and other trees that put on a show this time of year.” For more about autumn trees and shrubs at Loma Vista Nursery, see our recent blog, “Falling for Foliage.”
Learn More About the Loma Vista Nursery Family and Our Landscape Plants
Loma Vista Nursery grows fun and healthy plants for Midwest independent garden centers, landscape contractors and wholesale distributors. We are now taking professional trade orders for the spring 2024 growing season. Click here for our container order form. Click here for our in-ground tree order form. Visit our plant catalog for more information about Loma Vista Nursery grown perennial plants, trees and shrubs – all ideal for Midwest landscapes.
Review our website to learn about our values and best-practices as a Midwest plant grower. Our staff members are experts in the field who love helping people learn and understand more about plants. To get help with your orders and answers to plant-related questions, send an email to email@example.com or call (785) 229-7200.
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