Berry bushes that change colors provide interest to your landscape for multiple seasons. Some bushes even have leaves that display several different colors throughout the growing season. Berries can be edible or inedible, and some are poisonous. Various edible berries are tasty fresh from the bush, while others are too tart to eat unless you make jam or other confections.
1. Blueberry Bushes for Red Fall Color
Blueberry bushes are self-fertile plants well known for their edible fruit and red foliage in the fall. However, for the best crop of berries, plant at least two varieties that bloom at the same time so they can cross-pollinate. Highbush blueberry “Blueray” is a medium-size shrub that grows 5 to 8 feet tall in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 5 through 8. Southern highbush blueberry “Sunshine Blue” is a compact variety that grows in USDA zones 6 through 10. Blueberry bushes prefer acidic soil.
2. Foliage Changes Color Several Times
Certain berry bushes have foliage that changes color several times. The foliage on Oregon grape-holly (Mahonia aquifolium) comes out with a red tint, matures to shiny dark green, turns purplish in autumn and changes to burgundy-bronze in winter. The edible blue-black berries on this western North American native evergreen ripen in late summer, and it grows in full to partial shade in USDA zones 5 through 8. The foliage on Allegheny serviceberry (Amelanchier laevis) comes out tinted in bronzish-purple, matures to dark green and turns red-orange in autumn. The edible purplish-black berries on this large North American native shrub are ready in late spring and it grows in USDA zones 4 through 8.
3. Colorful Berries Persist Into Winter
North American natives chokeberry “Brilliantissima” (Aronia arbutifolia “Brilliantissima”) and European cranberry bush “Xanthocarpum “ (Viburnum opulus “Xanthocarpum”) produce colorful berries that persist into winter, which enlivens your landscape when it needs it most. The glossy, edible – but too tart to enjoy fresh – red berries on “Brilliantissima” ripen in late summer and its shiny, dark green foliage with greyish undersides becomes bright red in the fall. This bush grows in USDA zones 4 through 9. In the fall in USDA zones 3 to 8, the yellow berries on “Xanthocarpum” ripen and its light green foliage changes to shades of yellow to red. The acidic berries are technically edible, but can cause vomiting and diarrhea in some people. “Xanthocarpum” is on the invasive species list in some areas.
4. Bird Gardens
The berries on some bushes that change colors are strictly for the birds. Eastern wahoo (Euonymus atropurpureus), also known as burning bush, grows in full to partial shade with dark green leaves that become dull red to greenish-red in autumn. The scarlet-red fruit of this eastern North American native is poisonous and it grows in USDA zones 3 through 7. Beautybush “Profusion” (Callicarpa bodinieri var. giraldii “Profusion”) displays glossy, bright amethyst-purple, inedible berries that persist through October in USDA zones 6 through 8 and its dark green leaves turn purplish in autumn. The best berry production occurs in mass plantings.
- University of Missouri Extension: Selecting Landscape Plants
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Vaccinium "Sunshine Blue"
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Vaccinium "Blueray"
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Amelanchier Laevis
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Mahonia Aquifolium
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Viburnum Opulus "Xanthocarpum"
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Aronia Arbutifolia "Brilliantissima"
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Callicarpa Bodinieri Var. Giraldii "Profusion"
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Euonymus Atropurpureus
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