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Because it is a relative of the immensely popular burning bush (E. alatus), it isn't surprising that eastern wahoo has great fall color. This North American native grows as a small tree in the southern part of its range and as a large shrub on the Plains. The bright red of its fall foliage is amplified and extended by abundant clusters of scarlet fruits that persist after the leaves have fallen, providing color even into midwinter. Eastern wahoo is effective as an accent plant or when massed wherever a bold, surprising splash of color is desired.
Prostrate to mound-forming, vigorous evergreen shrubs have oval, toothed, dark green leaves. Cultivars vary in foliage color and variegation, form, climbing or creeping habit, and fall interest.
'Phantom' Joe Pye weed is an excellent 3-foot-tall perennial that was bred especially for smaller gardens and mixed containers. Plants have dark green, whorled foliage and handsome lavender to purple flower heads in late summer and fall. The blooms are darker when night temperatures are cool. Joe Pye weed attracts butterflies and other insects.
'Little Joe' is a dwarf cultivar of a species of our native Joe Pye weed. It can reach 3 or 4 feet tall and 2 to 3 feet wide, and it has the familiar large domes of lavender-pink flowers that attract lots of butterflies in late summer and early fall. Its smaller size makes it a better fit in moist borders, beds, meadows, or roadside plantings.
Large, flat-topped flowerheads in shades of purple add soft color and texture to the summer and fall garden. The leaves are purple-tinged on thick stems with maroon spots. Butterflies love this eastern U.S. native.
This cultivar of the eastern North American native Joe Pye weed is shorter and bushier than the species. From late summer into fall, its domes of dusky pink flowers attract butterflies and other insects. The seedheads persist well into winter. Grow 'Gateway' in a border, meadow, or cottage garden. It does best in soil that does not dry out.
Large, domed flowerheads of pink, light purple, or off-white add soft color and texture to the summer and fall garden. The leaves are purple-tinged on thick stems suffused with maroon. This eastern U.S. native attracts butterflies from mid-summer to early fall.
This eastern U.S. woodland plant has clusters of small, fluffy white flowers topping stiff 3- to 5-foot-tall stems midsummer to frost.
The deliciously colored maroon-brown leaves contrast nicely with neighboring plants through the season. Pure white flowerheads bloom in midsummer and stay open well into autumn.
With velvety foliage that darkens to near black in full sun, 'Black Bird' euphorbia looks good in perennial borders and is especially striking in containers. Flowers open above bright, lime green bracts on red stems that form a compact vase shape. -Pat McKernan, Regional Picks: Midwest, Fine Gardening issue #120
This hybrid has petite green-and-cream variegated foliage with a hint of pink on the undersides. It produces chartreuse and apple green bicolored bracts on airy stems.
This plant makes a riveting focal point in the border, with golden bracts with red centers that open just above the burgundy-tinted, dark green leaves in spring to summer.
Wood spurge is a soft, hairy, evergreen perennial with red-tinged stems and matte dark green leaves with red tones underneath. In mid-spring to early summer, it produces 8-inch-tall, greenish-yellow bracts.
This cultivar has a compact, bushy habit to 20 inches tall and purple-red flushed leaves, especially on new growth and in winter. It produces yellow bracts in mid-spring and early summer.
This upright, evergreen shrub has stunning texture and form. Its gray-green leaves and woolly, purple-tinged stems form billowy, 4-foot long branches. From early spring to early summer, it produces giant cylindrical bract clusters in yellow-green with purple-black nectar glands, and creates a specimen that looks otherworldly.
This species produces erects stems of bronzy green leaves and greenish yellow bracts in early summer. In autumn, its leaves turn shades of red, orange, and gold.
This notable species produces erect stems of bronzy burgundy leaves and purple-green bracts in early summer. It looks exceptional when placed near contrasting plants. The foliage may be cut back after flowering to produce fresh growth.
This species has red stems and dark green leaves, which emerge in spring with a reddish tinge. In early summer, it bears conspicuous bracts of orange-red or red.
'Fireglow' bears conspicuous bracts in vivid orange-fuchsia in early summer. It has red stems and dark green leaves, which emerge in spring with a reddish tinge.
Long-lasting, terminal clusters of lime green bracts and flowers punctuate the meandering 'arms' of this ground-hugging species. The chalky seafoam foliage looks great spilling over a stone wall in a rock garden or at the edge of any bed.
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Use plant combinations that focus on complementary colors, textures, and forms
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