Red Leaf Bushes: Bringing Vibrancy to Your Garden

When the days grow shorter and the vibrant colors of your garden start to fade, evergreen foliage becomes a necessity. Although they are called evergreens, these plants don’t have to be limited to shades of green. In fact, the captivating transformation that occurs in trees, shrubs, and bushes when their leaves turn shades of crimson, mauve, and deep burgundy during autumn is something many people cherish. So why not introduce these enchanting shades into your garden all year round?

Creating Contrast with Red-Leaved Shrubs

According to Master Horticulturist Colin Skelly, the key to utilizing red-leaved shrubs is to strike the right balance. “When using red-leaved shrubs, I try to ensure that the effect is not diluted by using too many relative to green-foliaged shrubs and trees. It is the contrast that provides the attraction of red leaves.”

Here are our top nine red-leaved shrubs that can bring a touch of fire and effervescence to your outdoor display:

1) Hazel ‘Red Majestic’

With its intensely reddish-purple foliage, crinkly textures, and interweaving branches, the Hazel ‘Red Majestic’ is truly a showstopper. Its twisting stems and unique appearance add intrigue to any garden. The leaves maintain their dark hue throughout the year, and the emergence of purplish-pink catkins in late winter adds another dimension to its visual appeal. This slow-growing shrub is fairly easy to care for and can reach heights of up to 4m.

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2) Japanese Barberry

The Japanese Barberry offers a mix of reds, purples, and pinks on its leaves throughout the year. In spring, it produces a spectacular floral display, adding a buttery yellow to the mix. Be cautious, though, as its branches are armed with thorny barbs. This low-maintenance shrub can reach a height of 1.5m and thrives in well-drained soil.

3) Chinese Witch Hazel ‘Burgundy’

Chinese Witch Hazel is known for its year-round transformative display. The foliage starts with an almost pinkish hue, which deepens into a rich red, eventually turning olive in its advanced years. The bright pink tassel-like blossoms and delicate perfume of this Chinese native make it an attractive addition to any garden. It can reach impressive heights and requires partial shade and regular fertilization to reach its maximum potential.

4) Purple-Leaf Sand Cherry

The Purple-Leaf Sand Cherry, a member of the rose bush family, boasts leaves that span every shade from red to purple. As the year progresses, the colors deepen, and when the flowers arrive in spring, the effect is truly captivating. This hardy shrub grows up to a meter in height and spread and thrives in sunny, well-draining soil.

5) Red Robin

The eye-catching Red Robin gets its common name from the deep red color of its leaves. While the color may soften to green as the leaves mature, pruning back the stems can ensure red hues remain prominent. This evergreen shrub also produces small clusters of white flowers in spring, providing an enchanting contrast. Its popularity as a hedge plant is attributed to its ability to reach heights and spreads of up to 4m.

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6) Smoke Bush

Smoke Bush, named after its clouds of pink flowers, is truly a spectacle. This deciduous shrub offers a wide variety of cultivars, each with its own leaf color. ‘Grace,’ ‘Royal Purple,’ and ‘Golden Spirit’ are cultivars that provide year-round red appeal. The shrub grows to 4m in height and spread, making it ideal for shaping into bushes and hedges. With minimal pruning and full or partial sun exposure, this low-maintenance plant will thrive.

7) Wine And Roses

Weigela florida, known for its expansive size and easy-going temperament, is a popular option for beds and borders. Wine and Roses, one of its sought-after varieties, features purply-red foliage that intensifies as the plant matures. The clusters of pink blossoms that appear in spring add an extra sparkle to the plant. Pruning throughout the year helps maintain its shape, and it thrives in fertile, well-draining soil with full or partial sun exposure.

8) Ninebark Diabolo

While not maintaining red foliage year-round, Ninebark Diabolo offers attractive reddish-purple leaves for the majority of the calendar. Its unique foliage texture and pompons of delicate white flowers in spring create a stunning visual display. This deciduous shrub grows up to 2.5m in height and thrives in acidic soil. Its deep red bark provides year-round visual interest.

9) Double Play Big Bang

If you’re fond of an autumnal palette, Double Play Big Bang is an excellent choice for your garden. Its foliage transitions between yellow, orange, and red, creating a warm and inviting atmosphere. Spiraea japonica, another deciduous shrub, rewards you with a remarkable show throughout the year. It grows to a height of 60cm to 90cm and prefers well-draining soil and sun-facing locations.

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Incorporating these red-leaved shrubs into your garden will add vibrancy and year-round visual interest. Whether you opt for bold and intense reds or softer, shifting hues, these plants will undoubtedly captivate and enhance your outdoor space.

Ames Farm Center