Fall and Winter Color in Your Landscape With Native Plants


Are you looking for color in your landscape for fall and winter? Try some of the native plants, vines, shrubs and trees listed below.

Common Name
    Scientific Name

Red Maple
Acer rubrum


This Maple tree has smaller sized leaves than the Sugar Maple and is named for its spring flower color. But, in fall the first cool nights brings on a color change, varying from orange to bright red, that makes nice fall color in the home landscape.

Chalk Bark Maple
Acer leucoderme


An understory tree is similar in fall folliage to the large Sugar Maple. This little tree reaches about 15 feet and has smaller leaves of the standard maple leaf shape. The fall leaf colors range from yellow, orange, pinkish orange to dark red orange many times on the same tree, or can be a more uniform shade this seems to depend on the location.

White Flowering Dogwood
Cornus florida


This is an understory tree, which has reddish leaves in fall followed by deep red berries that linger until the bird migrations. this is a vital food source for robins and cedar waxwings in fall migrations. It is widely available at nurseries and the flowers come in several shades from white to red.

Oxydendrum arboreum


A medium to large tree that presents seasonal interest in the landscape. Sold as lily of the valley tree in nurseries because of the umbrels of small white cup shaped flowers in spring, this tree has elongated leaves that turn a dark red in fall. A food source as nectar for insects and is collected from honeybee hives as sourwood honey by beekeepers.

Carolina Buckthorn
Frangula caroliniana


A small tree that has shiny leaves and berries. The berries, a food source for birds, are red in summer and turn black in fall. The leaves turn a nice shade of yellow before dropping.

Ilex decidua


One of several deciduous hollies that are native to the Southeast. Unlike many of the hollies sold in the nusery trade, this plant doesn't have spiny foliage. The berries are bright red in fall and persist after the leaves drop. After several freeze/thaw cycles, the berries become palatible to birds, thus are an important mid to late winter food. Being a holly, plants are either male or female, and both are required for berries to set on the female plants. One male can be planted for many female plants. There are several cultivars of Possumhaw available in the nursery trade, mainly chosen for heavy berry production.

American Beautyberry
Callicarpa americana


Bright purple berries appear in late September in north Georgia on the Beautyberry. The berries remain as the leaves turn a bright autumn gold and drop, leaving just the berries until well into December. It is also available in a variety with white berries. Make sure, if you purchase plants from a nursery, that you are getting the American Beautyberry, there are Oriental species commonly sold as well.

Vaccinium arboreum


This relative of the Blueberry grows to around 15 feet. It has interesting coloration of the bark as it grows larger and the outer layers flake off to reveal a cinnamon colored layer. In the fall, the leaf color can be a spectacular bright red.

Winged Sumac
Rhus copallina


Winged Sumac grows along woodland edges and in fields as a mounded shrub, usually under 6 feet tall. It has shiny, compound leaves that turn bright red to maroon in the fall. The warty bark on the stems and dried seedheads also provides some winter interest.

Euonymus americanus


Hearts-a-Bustin' is also called Strawberry Bush for the fruit it bears in the fall. The fruit turns a bright pink color, then it bursts open to reveal bright, shiny, orange-red seeds. Although the fall leaf color isn't particularly bright, when the leaves drop, the plant provides winter interest with its green stems.

Trumpet Honeysuckle
Lonicera sempervirens


This red-flowered native honeysuckle is a slow grower and not a pest like the Japanese version. It has a long bloom season. Although the leaves drop in fall, the vines hold bright red berries. Trumpet Honeysuckle can be found occasionally in the nursery trade, and it has several cultivars, one of which has bright golden-yellow flowers instead of red.

Field Goldenrod
Solidago canadensis var scabra


This is but one of the many species of Goldenrod native to the Southeast. Bright yellow flowers appear in early September and last until frost. Try planting several to make a grouping and instensify the effect of the yellow flowers in the flowerbed. There are several named varieties, of various species, that are sold in plant catalogs that have larger flower heads. Goldenrod makes a good combination with some of the purple flowering plants that bloom in fall. Liatris, Purple Asters, and Blue Lobelia. Also try pairing it with some of the non-native purple flowering sages that start to bloomin late summer and continue until frost.

Royal Fern
Osmunda regalis


A large fern about 4 ft in height, the Royal Fern turns a deep gold in fall and the fronds remain until after hard frost.

Cinnamon Fern
Osmunda cinnamomea


A large fern about 5 ft in height at its maximum growth, the Cinnamon Fern fronds turn a bright yellow in fall and last until after a hard frost.

Liatris squarrosa


In late September through early November these tall purple spikes of flowers make a show in the fall landscape. Plant them in groups to get more color effect. Pair them with some of the showy versions of Goldenrod or fall daisy like the Green-Eyed Coneflower. Bees find these a good food source in the fall.

Little Brown Jugs
Hexastylis arifolia


A low growing plant suitable for dry shade areas. A ginger relative, has evergreen leaves with a heart shape. the leaves turn a dark green, with a bronze to redish bronze tint in fall after frost and remain until spring.
* Not native to Georgia, but can be grown as a landscape plant or ornamental.
** Non-native considered invasive, not recommended.

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