9 Gorgeous Shrubs with Red Foliage All Year Round

Evergreen foliage is a must in any garden. As the days grow shorter and the temperatures drop, the vibrant colors of your garden may begin to fade. But fear not! Evergreen shrubs can add a pop of color that lasts throughout the year.

Contrary to their name, evergreens don’t have to be green. In fact, many shrubs undergo a breathtaking transformation in autumn when their leaves turn shades of crimson, mauve, and deep burgundy. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have those enchanting shades in your garden year-round?

“When using red-leaved shrubs, it’s important to create contrast by not using too many alongside green-foliaged shrubs and trees,” advises Master Horticulturist Colin Skelly. It’s the contrast that makes red leaves so captivating.

So without further ado, here are our top nine (mostly) evergreen (or ‘ever-red’) shrubs that will brighten up your garden:

1) Hazel ‘Red Majestic’

burgundy leaves of hazelnut Corylus avellana

  • Botanical Name: Corylus avellana
  • Hardiness Rating: H6
  • Foliage: Deciduous
  • Red Color Seasons: Spring / Summer / Autumn

With its deeply reddish-purple foliage, crinkly textures, and interweaving branches, Hazel ‘Red Majestic’ is a showstopper. The twisting stems add intrigue to your garden, making this shrub truly unique. In late winter, purplish-pink catkins appear, adding another dimension to its aesthetic appeal.

Hazel ‘Red Majestic’ can grow up to 4m in height and spread, but it’s a slow-growing shrub that is fairly easy to care for. It thrives in moist, well-drained soil and prefers at least partial sun exposure.

2) Japanese Barberry

Berberis thunbergii atropurpurea growing from a gravelled area

  • Botanical Name: Berberis thunbergii
  • Hardiness Rating: H7
  • Foliage: Deciduous
  • Red Color Seasons: Spring / Summer

The Japanese Barberry is available in both deciduous and evergreen varieties. Opting for the Japanese barberry will reward you with leaves that showcase shades of red, purple, and pink throughout the year. In spring, the shrub produces a spectacular floral display with buttery yellow blossoms.

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Be careful when handling or pruning this shrub as its branches are armed with thorns. However, the dramatic flair it adds to your garden, along with scarlet berries in autumn, make it well worth the effort. The Japanese barberry is unfussy about its location, as long as it’s planted in well-draining soil and receives adequate hydration in its first year.

3) Chinese Witch Hazel ‘Burgundy’

magnified view of Chinese Witch Hazel 'Burgundy' with tiny pink flowers

  • Botanical Name: Loropetalum chinense
  • Hardiness Rating: H4
  • Foliage: Evergreen
  • Red Color Seasons: Year-Round

This Chinese native, known as Chinese Witch Hazel ‘Burgundy,’ puts on a transformative show with its foliage all year round. The leaves start with a pinkish hue and darken to an olive color as they mature. The shrub also boasts bright pink floral displays in the form of tassel-like blossoms in late winter and early spring.

The pleasing contrast of flowers and foliage, along with the delicate perfume of the blooms, make it a stunning addition to any garden. Chinese Witch Hazel can reach an impressive height and spread, so plant it in at least partial shade and fertilize it three times a year for optimal growth.

4) Purple-Leaf Sand Cherry

Prunus x cistena with white flowers and red foliage on a background of blue sky

  • Botanical Name: Prunus x cistena
  • Hardiness Rating: H6
  • Foliage: Deciduous
  • Red Color Seasons: Spring / Summer / Autumn

The Purple-Leaf Sand Cherry, a member of the rose bush family, is a delightful specimen that adds a touch of elegance to any garden. Its leaves range from red to purple, including maroons, burgundies, and browns, deepening in color as the year progresses. In spring, delicate pinkish-white flowers offset the vibrant foliage.

This shrub typically grows to around a meter in height and spread, making it ideal for filling borders or neglected corners. It thrives in well-draining soil and requires plenty of sunshine to flourish.

5) Red Robin

Photinia Red Robin in glowing sunshine

  • Botanical Name: Photinia x fraseri
  • Hardiness Rating: H5
  • Foliage: Evergreen
  • Red Color Seasons: Spring
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Red Robin is aptly named for its deep red leaves. While the color may soften to green as the leaves mature, you can easily maintain a vibrant display by pruning back the stems that have turned green. In addition to the green and red contrast, Red Robin produces small clusters of white flowers in spring.

This eye-catching shrub can grow up to 4m in both height and spread, making it popular as a hedge. Red Robin is low-maintenance and doesn’t require much watering in the British climate. Plant it in well-draining soil and aim for soil watering rather than foliar watering.

6) Smoke Bush

round dark red leaves of Cotinus coggygria

  • Botanical Name: Cotinus coggygria
  • Hardiness Rating: H5
  • Foliage: Deciduous
  • Red Color Seasons: Autumn

Smoke Bush takes its name from the clouds of pink flowers that resemble smoke in summertime. While the flowers are stunning, the real draw is the foliage. There are different cultivars with a variety of leaf colors, but they all provide a spectacular display in autumn.

For year-round red appeal, consider ‘Grace,’ ‘Royal Purple,’ or ‘Golden Spirit’ varieties. ‘Grace’ and ‘Royal Purple’ have a purplish hue that lightens to red in summer, while ‘Golden Spirit’ features yellow foliage tinged with hints of red. Regardless of the cultivar, Smoke Bush grows to around 4m in height and spread, making it perfect for creating natural boundaries.

7) Wine And Roses

Weigela florida flowers in pink with dark foliage in the background

  • Botanical Name: Weigela florida
  • Hardiness Rating: H6
  • Foliage: Deciduous
  • Red Color Seasons: Spring / Summer / Autumn

Weigela plants, known for their expansive size and easy-going temperament, are popular choices for beds and borders. Wine and Roses, in particular, is sought-after for its purply-red foliage, which intensifies as the plant matures. The clusters of pink blossoms that emerge in spring add an extra sparkle to the shrub.

Wine and Roses typically grows just under 2m in height and responds well to aggressive pruning throughout the year. It’s adaptable to a variety of soil types, as long as the soil drains well. Full or partial sun exposure is necessary for optimal growth.

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8) Ninebark Diabolo

Physocarpus opulifolius with white flowers and dark burgundy leaves

  • Botanical Name: Physocarpus opulifolius
  • Hardiness Rating: H7
  • Foliage: Deciduous
  • Red Color Seasons: Spring / Summer / Autumn

Ninebark Diabolo may not have red foliage year-round, but its leaves remain attractive for the majority of the year. This deciduous shrub has deeply reddish-purple leaves and stunning white flowers that bloom in spring, providing a striking contrast. The deep red bark adds visual interest even when the shrub is leafless.

Ninebark Diabolo grows at a slightly faster rate compared to other options on this list, reaching a maximum height of 2.5m. It thrives in acidic soil and may struggle in high-chalk content terrain.

9) Double Play Big Bang

Japanese Spirea Double Play Big Bang

  • Botanical Name: Spiraea japonica
  • Hardiness Rating: H6
  • Foliage: Deciduous
  • Red Color Seasons: Spring / Autumn

Garden enthusiasts who love autumnal tones will adore Double Play Big Bang. The foliage of this Spiraea japonica shifts between yellow, orange, and red as the temperatures fluctuate, creating a warm and inviting atmosphere in your garden. While the foliage fades during winter, the showy display throughout the year more than compensates for it.

Double Play Big Bang is on the smaller side of red-leaved shrubs, generally growing to a height of 60cm to 90cm. Plant it in a sunny location with well-draining soil, and you’ll be rewarded with a trouble-free and colorful addition to your garden.

These magnificent shrubs will infuse your garden with vibrant red hues that endure throughout the year. Whether you choose evergreen or deciduous varieties, their stunning foliage and occasional blossoms will captivate your senses and make your outdoor space a haven of color and beauty. So why not add some fiery reds to your garden and enjoy a year-round visual feast?

For more gardening inspiration, visit the Ames Farm Center, where you’ll find a wide range of plants and expert advice to help you create a stunning landscape.