Plants with Spectacular Fall Color.

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A few days ago as I was pulling into the driveway at home I couldn’t help but notice some of the spectacular colors of fall.   Sure we’ve all seen the wonderful displays of color on the hillsides as we travel, but today I want to share with you a few plants that I think are noteworthy if you’d like to add some fall color to your landscape.  And they are all just as nice during the growing season, just different colors.

Let’s start with Heuchera (Coral Bells), Caramelle.

Heuchera (coral bells) 'Caramel'

Heuchera (coral bells) ‘Caramel’

Heuchera, common name Coral Bells are great plants for the landscape because they are perennial which means the come back every year, but they need very little maintenance.  I don’t even cut mine back in the fall, I’ve found that just by leaving them as is they look good all winter, then come spring the new growth emerges and completely engulfs the old growth and the plants look fantastic.

The fall color of ‘Caramel’ Coral Bells  is really special.  The good news is that the color is nice year found.  Spring and summer the color is more orange and less purple.

Next up we have Goshiski Shidare Japanese maple.

This is in the family of Laceleaf Weeping Japanese maples but this one has variegated leafs that look pink in the early spring.   The fall color is very striking.

Goshiki Shidare Japanese maple, fall color.

Goshiki Shidare Japanese maple, fall color.

Even with all of this fall color you can still see the variegation in this beautiful tree.  The similar brilliant orange tree in the background is a ‘Waterfall Japanese maple.  Check it out below.

Waterfall Japanese maple, fall color.

Waterfall Japanese maple, fall color.

Waterfall Japanese maple, fall color.

Is that not a spectacular fall color?  During the growing season this tree is light green.  Let me see if I can find a photo.  Here we go.

Waterfall Japanese Maple

Waterfall Japanese Maple

In less than two weeks along came the snow and transformed my beautiful orange tree into this.

 

Snow covered 'Waterfall' Japanese maple.

Snow covered ‘Waterfall’ Japanese maple.

Lion’s Head Japanese Maple.

Lion's Head Japanese maple, fall color.

Lion’s Head Japanese maple, fall color.

Lion’s Head Japanese maple is a very interesting tree during the growing season because it’s leaves are dark green, quite small and slightly curled.  In the fall they turn to a burnt orange then almost red.  This tree has been in our landscape for eight years and still it’s only about 30″ tall and 30″ wide.  Truly one of my favorite plants.  Tough as nails come winter!

Lion's Head Japanese maple covered in snow.

Lion’s Head Japanese maple covered in snow.

Sango Kaku ‘Coral Bark’ Japanese maple.

Sango Kaku Japanese maple fall color.

Sango Kaku Japanese maple fall color.

Also called ‘Coral Bark’ Japanese maple because of its striking coral or red colored branches that really stand out in a snow covered landscape.

Burning Bush.

Burning Bush fall color.

Burning Bush fall color.

We can’t have a conversation about plants with spectacular fall color without mentioning and showing off a few Burning Bush.  Some folks will tell you that Burning Bush is an invasive species and most of the time they are wrong.  There are two kinds of Burning Bush.  Eunoymus Alatus Compacta which I’ve shown here, also known as Dwarf Burning Bush, even though they can get quite high.

Then there is the old standard Burning Bush, Euonymus Alatus, which has a much more pronounced wing on the bark which actually makes it quite interesting during the winter when the leaves are off.  However, this “old fashioned” Burning Bush is on the invasive species list in some states.  Some people tell me that the compact variety is as well.  I don’t know nor do I understand why.

Guess where I’ve been for the past forty years?  On my hands and knees crawling around in the dirt.  I’ve mulched under and around thousands of Burning Bush and in all that time I’ve found maybe three that came up as chance seedlings.  I wish I could say that for maple trees.  My neighbor at the old house, he had a hedge of “old fashioned” Burning Bush around his entire backyard.  Was his yard over grown with Burning Bush seedlings?  Not at all.  I never saw any and he never ever mentioned to me that they were a problem.

So in some places they might be, but here in northern Ohio I just don’t believe it.

I had somebody tell me one time that up in New England at one of the colleges Euonymus Alatus completely took over one of the flower gardens.  My first thought?, Was anybody in charge of weeding the flower gardens?  Burning bush is a pretty slow grower, it’s not going to take over anything very fast.

So obviously I am not buying into that theory.

Next we have Green Cascade Japanese maple.

Green Cascade Japanese maple, fall color.

Green Cascade Japanese maple, fall color.

Green Cascade is beautiful in the fall and an interesting lighter shade of green during the growing season.  Leaf color is a lot like ‘Waterfall’, but the leaf texture is different and the branching habit is very much different.  An interesting plant because you won’t see many of them around.

Last but certainly not least.

Orido Nishiki Japanese maple.

Orido Nishiki Japanese maple, fall color.

Orido Nishiki Japanese maple, fall color.

This plant is awesome in the fall.   I’ll let the photos tell the story.

Acer palmatum 'Orido Nishiki', fall color.

Acer palmatum ‘Orido Nishiki’, fall color.

Orido Nishiki Japanese maple, fall color.

Orido Nishiki Japanese maple, fall color.

That my friend is spectacular!

Before you leave, stop by and say “Hi” to Pam and the donkeys, we took some photos for you.

 

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Comments

  1. Cindy Clark says

    I know this probably sounds stupid, but could you do a video showing exactly how you plant potted plants? As if for someone with zero experience with such things? Well…not “zero experience”, exactly, but let’s say zero success…lol

    I love this site and have seen every one of the videos but I’ve never gardened in my life. I don’t even mow the lawn, which is actually just a bunch of weeds that look sort of like a lawn when they’re mowed – the kids come over and do that for me.

    • Mike says

      Cindy,

      As far as I’m concerned there are no stupid questions. There are a lot of things in life that I don’t know that seem like basic information to others with more experience. Gardening is the same way. If you don’t know ask, that’s why we are here. I have touched on planting potted plants but probably included in a video with something else. I do need to do a stand alone video on the subject.

    • Mike says

      Tyler we have a number of different wholesale suppliers that we use. My system comes with a wholesale directory which lists all of the suppliers that we use and our members actually get a discount with at least one of them.

    • Mike says

      Sue,

      I never think to include zone info and in many cases I’d have to research each plant to know for sure. If you see me growing and sharing plants that I am growing they are perfectly happy in zone 5, many in zone 4. Zone 3 is more challenging. Most Japanese maples are rated as zone 5.

  2. Jerry says

    Mike..I see your Japanese Maples ‘covered in Snow’.. I have gotten them to sprout from seed in pots buried in the garden the previous Fall.. but do not have enough courage to try them outdoors all season in Zone 3B..should I try in a sheltered location with one of them, and see how it does ? May have to ‘fence it in and cover with leaves’..just my area can hit -50deg..yet 3 days later, can be +50deg with strong ‘Chinook Winds’ ! Very tough on any plants with those extremes ! I have seen Trees Bud in February here..only to get -40deg a few days later ! Most of my shrubs, ‘Eunoymus Alatus Compacta’ and ‘Sambucus nigra Black Beauty’ suffer from frost damage many years..have to be cut way back..but come back very well in the late summer !

    • Mike says

      Jerry,

      Even here Japanese maples can suffer winter damage. Most years they don’t, but I’ve seen years when it’s gotten down to zero and stayed there for days at a time and when that happens, many plants, not just Japanese maples are affected.

      However, the last time I saw that happen many mature Japanese maples were damaged, but all of the smaller ones that I had planted in landscapes the previous season did just fine. The cold bothered the more mature plants than it did the really young plants.

      On the mature plants the cold literally blew the bark right off the trees and either killed them or seriously damaged them.

  3. Cheryl says

    Thanks for all the beautiful fall foliage pictures, Mike! I would love to start growing some of them next spring. We recently had to place my mom in a nursing home for rehab from a hip surgery, and they have the most spectacular Japanese Maple in the courtyard there. I don’t know what variety it is, but it is just brilliant red! Puts all the other drab/gone-by plants and trees to shame, and really lifts one’s spirits.

    And, I don’t know why the burning bush would be on anyone’s list of invasive plants, either. I just love them. I have two outside my condo, but would like to propagate them and make lots more!

    • Lynn McMillen says

      Try asking if you can pick seeds from the tree and then plant them yourself, either in a nice, prepared bed in fall, or in early spring after the seeds have been left out in the cold (or put in the fridge) in a paper bag; Right now I have seeds from a beautiful red Japanese maple, and an even prettier purple one that I gathered on hands and knees after they fell in late October/early November.

  4. ElShegal DiaBendia says

    I would love to buy some Japanese maples from your friends at the backyard nursery. What is the best way to get in touch with these people and buy a few for our yard? My timing has been off when the window opens up to be a member so until then will you give me a contact? Thanks Mike and I appreciate your words of encouragement throughout the season.
    “El”

  5. viki says

    I am stratifying some Japanese Maple seeds for planting this spring. I know they will not grow true to their parent, but I should get something with great fall color. Is it worth the effort? If I have extra plants can they be sold as seedlings of their named parent plant?

    • Mike says

      Viki,

      It’s best that they be sold as just Japanese maple seedlings. If they have good red color that is a plus and the demand is there. If they are just green they can be used as grafting stock and there is also a demand for that.

    • Mike says

      Anne-Marie,

      Many Japanese maples can be kept under six feet. I don’t have any in my landscape that are over six feet and I probably have a dozen in my landscape. The weeping varieties never get that high.

  6. Mary Ferris says

    I know that maples seed more easily than almost any tree, and I am wondering what your experience has been with The various varieties of Japanese seedlings? Are they complete mutts, or do are there species that are dominant no matter what. I take seeds off all sorts of plants just to see what will come up, and what won’t and how closely the children will be to the parents. Your thoughts are appreciated.

    • Mike says

      Mary,

      Great question. Most aren’t really that close to the parent plant unless you stay with the basic varieties. If you collect seeds from a regular upright Japanese maple that has good red color you will get many seedlings with good red color. Other varieties? Not so much. Most of them came from complete flukes that were identified as being unique and interesting and they have been grown since all via asexual reproduction, not seed.

  7. Pat Hegger says

    I have a recommendation for a beautiful yet underutilized small tree. Look up serviceberry. It’s a beautiful little tree and not near as expensive as Japaness Maple.

  8. Irene says

    Beautiful Japanese maples! But I’d like to more of them pruned to show off their characteristic graceful “uneven” natural shape, instead of the dense mushroom shape.

  9. sheree says

    Wow! Stunning! I am now hooked on Japanese Maples! Love your articles.. so informative! I want to sign up and will in the spring I hope.Thanks!

    • Mike says

      Scott,
      The easiest way to propagate coral bells is to divide them but you can also cut a slip from the side of the plant and have it rooted in a few weeks. That’s more of a summer technique. Many coral bells are patented so make sure you know what variety you have.

  10. Charline Jolly says

    Here in California we have very little native fall color – some nice stands of aspen up in the Sierras – So we plant a lot of Liquidamber and Chinese Pistache. I have seen Japanese Maples in a brilliant clear scarlet. So striking among all the dull greens!

  11. Jean says

    I Have a Burning Bush in my backyard that I treasure. Living here in Marblehead, Massachusetts I was surprised to learn a few years ago they are banned in this state. (wouldn’t you just know Ma. would go along with this). If I ever had the chance to bring one in tho, I would do it because the one I have is NOT invasive and adds so much color to the Fall landscape. I would love to have the Waterfall Japanese Maple. It is so beautiful,.

    • sfhellwig says

      The reason burning bush has taken such a bad wrap is how easily they bird scatter. After the leaves drop and all that’s left are the nice red fruit, the birds devour them and then drop them later, far from the plant. That’s why you won’t see the effects near the plant like a tree that scatters by wind. It got banned because there are burning bushes growing all over the forest near you most likely. Really bad here with honeysuckle. I see a burning bush in the middle of nowhere every once in a while. And when conservationalist see things in their nature that they know doesn’t belong there, they get upset. Between the compact version and “regular” I would see no difference in the spreading. I have a dwarf potted up in my backyard. It’s very full with fruit which I’m sure will disappear shortly.

      • Mike says

        Thanks for sharing about the bird scatter but I’m still having a difficult time with it. In this county we have over 100 wholesale nurseries reporting well over 85 million sales. Almost all of them grow and sell burning bush by the thousands or tens of thousands. At one time some growers had 100,000 or more in the field. Still, living in this area my entire life, having spent most of that time on my hands and knees in the dirt, I’ve yet to find more than three Burning Bush growing from chance seedlings. This year Burning Bush in this area was really, really, really in short supply. Nobody on the wholesale market had any 18″ Burning Bush to sell.

        And that’s what bothers me by all this. If you want a burning bush around here you have to intentionally grow them. Yeah, yeah I know. I’m a “Dumb Ole Dirt Farmer” and I just don’t understand. I get that, and maybe that’s it. Maybe I just don’t understand.

  12. Paul says

    Mike ,here in SE Texas with out heat the japanese maples have a hard time.
    I grow the hibicus mahogany splendor here with great sucess. It has a nick name of
    “poormans japanes maple” It’s would be an annual in your area but will make it past our
    average winter

    • Mike says

      Paul,

      You’re right, Japanese maples do okay in the heat, it’s the intense sun that really gets to them. I have a member that grows a lot of them in Alabama but all of hers are protected by shade trees.

  13. says

    Mike, I’d like to do your system in Germany. But I do not have a CreditCard yet. So how can I purchase all your fantastic stuff, for example with paypal? And is your system suitable with Germany, with our sellers and buyers rules?
    E.G. in Bavaria you have to be a professional Gardener to sell plants as business.
    Thanks a lot, I enjoy your website and email very much,
    best regards, Jürgen, South Bavaria, Germany

    • Mike says

      Jurgen,

      I’m sure you can make this work in Germany. The rules for operating a business can vary from state to state here in the U.S. so there are always things you have to research and adapt to. Even here in the U.S. you have to be a grower, not a gardener to grow and sell plants. Like any business there are rules to follow. You can pay us with Paypal if you like. Just ask Duston for our paypal address, I rarely use it myself. duston.mcgroarty@gmail.com

  14. John Reed says

    Thanks for all the color on this pretty cloudy day in NE Ohio Mike. I continue to appreciate all your videos and look forward to getting involved in your backyard business group in the next year.

    • Mike says

      John,

      I’m glad to hear it! I’m not going anywhere. We’ve busy at the nursery this week digging Japanese maples and transplanting some Lavender Twist Redbud trees. Trying to make a little more room for the donkeys.

  15. Bob Shoemaker says

    Very content looking, and beautiful place. I didn’t get interested in Japanese maples till a couple years ago. I didn’t know they were so slow growing,,because I am now 80, and I have two that I have been trying to get them to grow faster Ha. I really like the donkeys.A friend and I love your emails. Take care of yourself. Bob

    • Mike says

      Thanks Bob. You can’t really rush a Japanese maple just enjoy them along their slow, lazy path to beauty. I too really like the donkeys.

  16. says

    You are up north. I am in Austin Tx. Very hot, long summers and usually not much freezing, but often hard freeze for very short time in winter. How would your information on “back yard gardening to sell plants” and general info help me in the hot South? Is it really feasible to do down here what you do up there in selling plants? (I understand I can check locally as to what grows well here and what doesn’t, but would I get enough usable info from your newsletter and buying the “How to do it” plan for $49?

    • Mike says

      Marlene,

      I have a number of members in Texas that do very well growing and selling small plants. Because you don’t fight the cold like we do in many ways you have an advantage. We have members all over the world in every climate imaginable. The information is universal, plant selection does vary by region.