Color Your Fall Garden
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‘Gro-low’ sumac (Rhus aromatica ‘Gro-low’) is a selection of fragrant sumac that grows 2 feet tall with a spread up to 8 feet. The rounded foliage is lustrous green through the growing season, turning to colors similar to its cousin the staghorn in fall, but it isn’t quite as spectacular by any measure. This sumac will grow just about anywhere in the United States: Zones 3-9.
In the northern part of Kansas, I have difficulty keeping nandina (Nandina domestica) healthy coming out of the winter. But if I lived farther south, ‘Fire Power’ nandina would be a must-have in my garden for fall color. ‘Fire Power’ nandina is a small, bamboo-like plant sometimes sold with the common name: heavenly bamboo. Clumps will only grow to 2 feet tall and wide at the maximum. Nandina’s foliage is lime green during the summer and, in the fall, it turns to a fire-red color that continues to intensify through winter. Nandina will grow in sun or shade and prefers moist soils. Unfortunately for us more northern gardeners, it grows best in Zones 6-9.
In addition to the 10 selections mentioned here, countless other plants can contribute to the fall color exhibit in your landscape. All it takes is a little investigation to find them and a little experimentation to see how well they work. These plants don’t make it to the top of many fall color lists, but they all are definite winners.
Mike Lang is a lifelong Kansan, and he is currently the landscape manager for a 1,000-acre university campus by day and caretaker of his own quarter-acre piece of the world the rest of the time.
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