There are so many tree species to choose from to add bright, vibrant, fall foliage color to your landscape. You may also want to consider adding some deciduous shrubs that will light up your garden in autumn. There are so many to choose from that making a selection can be confusing. It is worth strolling around your neighborhood in the fall to make note of the plants that are putting on their attractive seasonal display.

Here are some suggestions for deciduous shrubs that will give you bright reliable fall color here in the Pacific Northwest.

Image of a bright red Burning Bush or Euonymus elata, a great choice of shrubs for fall color.

Euonymus alatus 

The first choice of shrubs for fall color has to be the Burning Bush (Euonymus elata). This shrub grows so easily here – it is planted in parking lots and parking strips. It can also be planted as a hedge or as an individual specimen in mixed planting beds. You may have seen its bright luminous pink or red fall color blazing as you drive around town.

This shrub has attractive, deep green elliptical leaves and graceful branches that grow in a fountain shape, drooping down at the ends. E. alatus grows to a height and spread of 10-15 feet. 

There is a smaller variety available if you don’t have space for a large shrub. Euonymus alatus ‘Compactus’ grows to a height and spread of 9-11 feet. Both of these shrubs like to be planted in full sun or part shade, preferring well-drained soil, while tolerating a range to different soil types. This shrub produces red berries that birds will enjoy in the fall.

Close up image of the flower of the Oakleaf Hydrangea or Hydrangea quercifolia, a great option of shrubs for fall color.

Hydrangea quercifolia

The Oakleaf Hydrangea is a wonderful shrub to bring fall color to Pacific Northwest landscapes. There are many cultivars available in various sizes – you can be sure to find one to suit your garden. 

Hydrangea quercifolia works well in woodland landscapes and doesn’t look as formal as the other Hydrangea species. The leaves are large and have a lobed shape, similar to that of many oak leaves. 

From May to July, the Oakleaf Hydrangea develops large panicles of beautiful white, cream, or red flowers, depending upon the cultivar you choose. In the fall, the leaves turn an attractive deep red with shades of orange and purple. These shrubs should be planted in full sun to part shade. They like rich and well drained soils with consistent soil moisture. The species Hydrangea quercifolia grows to a height and spread of 6-8 feet.

There are many beautiful cultivars of Hydrangea shrubs for fall color available:

Hydrangea ‘Ruby Slippers’ has flowers that emerge white and then deepen to a dark pink. In the fall, the leaves turn a glowing red-brown color. This shrub grows to 3.5 feet tall with a spread of 4-5 feet.

Hydrangea ‘Munchkin’ is another dwarf variety that grows to a height and width of 3 to 4.5 feet. It prefers filtered light to partial shade. The blooms emerge bright white in color and mature to pink as summer continues. The leaves turn a brilliant deep red in fall. 

Close up image of the bright purple berries of the Beautyberry or Callicarpa americana, a great option of shrubs for fall color.

Callicarpa americana

The last selection is also known as Beautyberry. This unique shrub has much to recommend it – vivid green foliage on arching, long branches in the spring, tiny clusters of lavender flowers in the summer (July-August), and bright magenta berries, highlighted by luminous yellow foliage colors in the fall. 

This shrub grows to a height and spread of 3-6 feet – a good size for many landscapes. Plant it in full sun to light shade and in moist soil enriched with compost. This plant will grow well in clay soils. 

Contact Frontier Landscaping for help selecting the right shrubs to bring fall color to your landscape.