o Shrubs for Autumn and Winter Interest


Image by: Ian Nartowicz
Symphoricarpus alba (Snowberry)

Autumn Interest

At the end of the summer when the annuals have lost their lustre and most flowering shrubs and perennials have given up, the garden can still put on a good show. There are some plants that will flower well into autumn, some that will already have a showy fruit crop, and some that will dazzle with the colour of its dying foliage.

Much depends on climate. In warmer areas it is easy to find shrubs that will flower into November or later, but it is less easy to get stunning red foliage in warm zones.

Winter Interest

When the days are short and snow is on the ground, a few shrubs still offer a bit of colour in the garden. Bright red berries are the obvious choice for colour in winter, but there are fruit in other colours, attractive variegated evergreens, and even the occasional flowering shrub.

Again, different climates force us to look at different shrubs for winter interest. In really cold winters, flowers are impossible and foliage is restricted to needles. In warmer areas, attractive foliage may be lost in a mass of green and berries may be hidden by leaves.

Shrubs to Consider

Here is a list of some shrubs that you might want to consider for autumn and/or winter interest. I have tried to include shrubs with interesting flowers, foliage, berries, or stems, and to include some for very cold zones.

Latin nameCommon NameAttractive featuresUSDA zones
Aronia sp.ChokeberryReliable bright autumn colours.4-9
Callicarpa sp.BeautyberryStunning berries in various purple and violet colours in autumn and early winter.6-11
Camellia sp.CamelliaWhite, pink, or red flowers in autumn, early winter, or late winter, depedning on the variety. Flowers in winter in warmer zones and autumn or spring in colder areas.6-11
Chimonanthus praecoxFragrant WintersweetYellow/purple flowers any time during winter depending on the weather.6?-10
Clethra barbinervisJapanese ClethraExfoliating bark visible throughout the winter.5-8
Cornus masCornelian Cherry DogwoodDull yellow flowers in late winter and early spring, a little like a native Forsythia. Some autumn colour.4-8
Cornus sp.DogwoodBare red or yellow stems during winter on several species and varieties. Berries on some varieties.3-8
Corylis avellana 'Contorta'Corkscrew HazelBizarre twisted stems visible during the winter. Catkins in late winter.4-9
Disanthus cercidifoliusDisanthusBright red autumn leaves.6-10
Enkianthus sp.EnkianthusVery good autumn colour in some plants, not so good in others.6-9
Erica carneaHeathWhite, pink, or red flowers during winter4-9
Euonymus alataBurning BushBrilliant red foliage in autumn, but invasive in some areas.4-9
Fothergilla gardeniiDwarf FothergillaAutumn colours from orange to purple, but variable so pick a good individual plant.5-10
Garrya ellipticaSilk TasselLong catkins in mid-winter.8-10
Hamamelis x. intermediaWitch HazelRed or yellow flowers in winter. Brilliant autumn foliage on some varieties.5-9
Hebe 'Red Edge'Red Edge HebeEvergreen blue-green foliage with maroon edges and tips, especially in winter.8-10
Hydrangea quercifoliaOakleaf HydrangeaGood colour into late autumn and attractive peeling bark on coloured stems.5-9
Ilex aquifoliumEnglish HollyPersistent red berries, evergreen, some varieties have variegated foliage.7-9
Ilex glabraInkberrySmall black berries all winter, some varieties have white berries. Evergreen foliage.5-9
Ilex verticillataWinterberryPersistent red berries on this deciduous holly.3-8
Ilex x meserveaeBlue HollySpiny bluish evergreen foliage and many red berries.5-9
Itea virginicaVirginia SweetspireMixed autumn colours from yellow to crimson.6-10
Jasminum nudiflorumWinter JasmineYellow flowers on bare green stems November - March.6-10
Lonicera fragrantissimaWinter HoneysuckleHighly fragrant but not showy flowers in late winter.4-9
Lonicera x purpusii 'Winter Beauty'Winter HoneysuckleHighly fragrant white/yellow flowers in winter.5-9
Mahonia x mediaHolly GrapeLong yellow flower racemes in mid-winter. Distinctive spiny evergreen foliage.7-9
Nandina domesticaHeavenly BambooBrilliant red foliage all winter. May also have berries, usually red but yellow or white on some varieties.6-9
Osmanthus Tea Olive or False HollyFlowers in late autumn. Attractive evergreen leaves like English Holly, variegated in some cultivars.7-9
Photinia villosaOriental PhotiniaShowy autumn foliage.4-9
Pieris japonicaJapanese PierisColoured flowers bud throughout the winter. Shaped evergreen foliage.5-10
Pyracantha coccineaFirethornYellow, orange, or red berries until spring. Semi-evergreen.5-9
Rubus cockburnianusWhite-stemmed brambleWhite stems all winter.6-8
Sarcococca sp.SweetboxWhite flowers against dark green foliage in mid-winter. Some species only hardy to zone 8.6-10
Stephanandra tanakae?Orange and red autumn colours.5-9
Symphoricarpus albaSnowberryWhite berries in autumn2-8
Vaccinium sp.BlueberryRed autumn foliage and red winter stems. Berries are a summer feature.2-9
Viburnum farreriFragrant VirburnumFragrant white flowers in early and late winter.5-9
Viburnum lentagoNannyberryBerries in various shades eventually bluish-black by late autumn.2-8
Viburnum tinusLaurestinus ViburnumWhite flowers and strongly coloured berries all through winter.8-11
Viburnum x bodnantense 'Dawn'Dawn ViburnumMasses of pale pink flowers in winter.6-10

Entered by iann

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