Amsonia (Amsonia hubrichtii) is an easy to grow perennial that needs virtually no care. It blooms with small pale blue flowers in spring. This Amsonia has incredible texture all summer long and blazing yellow fall color. It thrives in full sun yet will tolerate partial shade. It’s not fussy about soil and moisture. During summer, the plants provide a soft swaying muted green backdrop. Sunshine yellow arrives mid fall and is well worth the wait.
Oakleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia) stars in each of the four seasons and is one most wonderful native shrub. The straight species grows to 10′ high and wide in some conditions. If you are short on space, there are smaller cultivars. Fall brings a panoply of color palettes depending on moisture and sun conditions. It is truly truly stunning. Oak leafs bloom on old wood (oak leafs = old wood). If you prune before flowering, you will prune the coming flowers.
Possumhaw viburnum (Viburnum nudum) has green foliage through summer, clusters of berries toward late summer and bright glossy color in fall. It is easy to grow in sun or part shade, and reaches 5′ to 12′ in height and width. For smaller gardens, it’s easy to prune to maintain a smaller size. Other than that, it really doesn’t require any maintenance. Possomhaw viburnum tolerates a range of soil and moisture conditions.
Please note, nurseries sell many ornamental, non-native viburnums. Please take care to make sure you are getting one of the natives or Viburnum nudum. To ensure success, try one of the native plant nurseries.
Serviceberry (Amelanchier canadensis), a multi-stemmed shrub or small tree, lights up in gold and yellow tones come fall. Serviceberry is easy to grow in sun or part shade and tolerates a rang of soil and moisture conditions. The sunnier the location, the more blooms and berries.
These four fall faves have common features: they grow in sun or part shade, tolerate a range of soils and moisture and are low maintenance. Fall is a great time to plant every one of these!
For more information:
A Gardening ‘How To‘ on Amsonia from the Brooklyn Botanical Garden.
A list of the cultivars of the Oakleaf Hydrangea from the Piedmont Master Gardeners.
Native viburnums recommended by the Brooklyn Botanical Garden.
A very well done fact sheet on serviceberry with fabulous photos from the University of Wisconsin Master Gardener program.