Some may say the best part of autumn is its colors. As the weather turns cooler, these tough beauties stand up to fluctuating temperatures and climate conditions and still look good.
Oakleaf Hydrangea ‘Alice’ (Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Alice)
Alice Oakleaf Hydrangea
This tough, drought-tolerant hydrangea puts on a show in all four seasons. Leaves are large at 8 inches. Dark green textured foliage transitions to scarlet, then burgundy and purple as leaves mature. In mid-summer, 14-inch white flowers turn pink, then beige. Copper-brown exfoliating bark adds visual texture, underscoring the shrub’s changing hues. Plant Alice Oakleaf Hydrangea as a specimen shrub, in small groups and as an informal hedge or sidewalk border.
Alice Oakleaf Hydrangea prefers moist, well-draining soil that is slightly acidic. Water frequently in the first season to help establish its root system. Then, provide moisture when the soil is dry or during dry-weather spells. Fertilize in spring and summer with a balanced mix. Add a 1- to 2-inch layer of mulch to protect the shrub’s roots. Deadhead spent flowers. Mature height and width is 6 to 8 feet. Plant this shrub in part sun, in USDA Hardiness Zones 5 to 8.
Standing Ovation Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium ‘Standing Ovation’)
Standing Ovation Little Bluestem
Tough as nails? Almost. Standing Ovation Little Bluestem has sturdy stems that won’t droop or flop, including during heavy rainstorms and volatile winds. Foliage color is magnificent – blue-green with tints of purple and pink. In early fall, foliage turns orange and flaming red. Silver plumes contain seed heads that provide food for birds in winter. Plant this ornamental grass as a privacy screen, in perennial borders and in larger containers.
At maturity, Standing Ovation Little Bluestem is 3 to 4 feet tall and 1 to 2 feet wide. Drought tolerant, it also tolerates a variety of soil and environmental conditions, making it a good choice for urban commercial properties as well as residential landscapes. Cut this ornamental grass to the ground in late winter or early spring. It likes full sun. Plant in USDA Hardiness Zones 3 to 8.
Kodiak® Black (Diervilla rivularis)
Kodiak Black Diervilla
This adaptable native shrub enhances shady Midwest gardens with color from spring through fall. Kodiak Black Diervilla has purple-black foliage with bright yellow flowers that bloom in summer and again in fall. It has a mounded habit and is drought tolerant and disease resistant.
With long stamen, flowers attract bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. Kodiak Black Diervilla likes part to full shade and can be grown in dry shade. It will also perform well in part to full sun. Mature height and spread is 3 to 4 feet. Use it as a border plant, thriller specimen in containers and plant it en masse for a groundcover-like effect. Plant in USDA Hardiness Zones 4 to 7.
Pacific Sunset® Maple (Acer truncatum x Acer platanoides ‘Warrenred’)
Pacific Sunset Maple
This beautiful autumn hybrid combines Shantung and Norway Maples to produce glossy-green foliage that turns stunning shades of yellow, orange and red in cooler weather. Pacific Sunset Maple is a small to medium size tree that is perfect for residential landscapes. Its size makes it adaptable for planting as a shade tree anywhere in the yard, including in parkways. Its habit is round and upright, with spreading and arching branches.
Pacific Sunset Maple has a moderate to rapid growth rate. Plant this tree 15 feet from buildings. At maturity, it stands 30 feet tall and has a 25-foot spread. It is Japanese Beetle resistant and a tough environmental specimen with dark green foliage. It produces no fruits to clean up in the yard. This tree is best in USDA Hardiness Zone 4.
Kousa Dogwood (Cornus Kousa)
Small, but mighty! Kousa Dogwood is a multi-stemmed, deciduous specimen tree with exfoliating gray bark and showy spring flowers. Pink-white bracts appear in the spring amidst green foliage, which holds its color before turning red in the fall. Raspberry-like fruits open in autumn and attract wildlife. This dogwood tree has very good disease resistance and is perfect for urban and suburban residential landscapes, city parkways and public parks.
Kousa Dogwood has a broad, round shape. It provides seasonal interest from late spring through early winter. Insect pollinators are drawn to its fragrant blooms, which grow from old wood. Although it will tolerate soil that is alkaline, this dogwood prefers well-draining, acidic soil. Plant this tree where it will be protected from high winds. Give its shallow root system 2 to 3 inches of mulch. Prune after flowering. Mature height and width is 20 to 30 feet. Best in full sun. USDA Hardiness Zones 4 to 8.
Fragrant Sumac (Rhus aromatica Aiton)
Working with poor soil? How about with challenging environmental conditions? Better get Fragrant Sumac. This shrub is right at home in dry climates, rocky spaces, old farm fields and open woodland areas. It tolerates drought and cold and doesn’t mind shade or sun. Fragrant yellow flowers bloom from April through June, providing an early nectar source for butterflies and other pollinators. The shrub produces dark red berries that are a winter food source for birds and small animals. Autumn foliage is yellow, orange and red.
Fragrant Sumac has velvet-like twigs with glossy-green, trifoliate leaves. Because this fast-growing shrub has a dense habit, it looks best planted en masse or in drifts on berms or hillsides. Fragrant Sumac has a high resistance to deer and is generally free of pests and disease. It does not have any special needs for watering or maintenance. Mature height and width is 6 to 12 feet and 4 to 6 feet, respectively. USDA Hardiness Zones 3 to 9.
Learn About the Loma Vista Nursery Family and Our Landscape Plants
Loma Vista Nursery grows healthy plants for 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.
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