Even if you only have a small bit of space to work with, you can inject fresh color to your garden by planting low-growing shrubs with burgundy foliage. These shades of red-purple add a welcome relief to the sea of green that makes up most landscapes, while the small size of low-growing shrubs means that they require less pruning. Plus, small shrubs add color and texture without taking up too much of that precious play space.
1. To 2 Feet Tall
Several cultivars of the bumalda spirea (Spiraea x bumalda) have burgundy foliage. This fast-growing shrub is hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 3 to 8, where it prefers sunny exposures. "Dolchica" grows to 30 inches tall and has delicate, purple-red new growth. "Magic Carpet" grows to 2 feet tall and has red-purple new growth that matures to gold. Both bloom in spring with pink flowers. The foliage of "Aubrey Purple" St. John's wort (Hypericum x "Aubrey Purple") is red-purple, edged by rich green margins. This deciduous shrub reaches heights of 2 feet and grows well in dry sites. Hardy in USDA zones 6 to 9, this slow-grower blooms with yellow blossoms, followed by red fruits.
2. To 3 Feet Tall
Michaux's sumac (Rhus michauxii) grows to 3 feet tall and has dark leaves that turn deep purple-red in autumn. This deciduous shrub tolerates drought and poor soil, but needs sun to thrive. Michaux's sumac is hardy in USDA zones 5 to 7 and blooms with yellow flowers in summer. Some low-growing cultivars of the red barberry (Berberis thunbergii var. atropurpurea) have burgundy foliage, including "Burgundy Carousel," a spreading shrub that grows to 3 feet tall, "Bagatelle," a 16-inch shrub with shiny, red-purple leaves and the 4-foot-tall "Royal Cloak," which has large, deep red-purple foliage. Red barberries are hardy in USDA zones 4 to 8 and tolerate a range of site conditions, such as drought, urban pollution and sun to partial shade.
3. To 4 Feet Tall
For stunning flower color and foliage color, plant a Knock Out shrub rose (Rosa "Radrazz"). Hardy in USDA zones 5 to 9, this rose grows to 4 feet tall and blooms with bright red flowers from summer through fall. Its summer foliage is deep purple-green that turns to burgundy in autumn. Knock Out rose thrives in full sun to part shade and moist, acidic soil. Another 4-foot-tall cultivar, the "Sherwoodii" glossy abelia, also has maroon fall foliage. Hardy in USDA zones 6 to 9, this evergreen shrub has small, dark leaves and blooms with pink, butterfly-attracting flowers from late spring through summer.
4. To 5 Feet Tall
The "Plum Passion" nandina lives up to its name. This evergreen shrub has dark red-purple new growth that turns green in summer, then transforms back to burgundy in winter. Reaching heights of 4 to 5 feet, this nandina thrives in moist, well-draining soil and tolerates sun to shade. It's hardy in USDA zones 6 to 9. The Wine and Roses weigela (Weigela Florida "Alexandra") grows from 4 to 5 feet tall and has purple-red new growth. This deciduous shrub also blooms with showy pink flowers in late spring and has deep maroon fall color, making it a colorful choice through three seasons. Wine and Roses weigelas grow well in sunny sites with well-driaining soil and are hardy in USDA zones 4 to 8.