Edible landscaping is all the rage in gardening circles and nothing is better than a plant that serves several purposes. So why not plant some wonderful fruiting plants that will also give you fall color? The plants described below are excellent landscape plants, will provide you with fruit and will also provide beautiful color in the autumn.
Blueberries come in many sizes from large shrubs 6 feet or more tall to small plants only about 18 inches high. Blueberry plants make handsome shrubs even if they do not produce fruit. Besides crops of delicious and healthful berries, blueberries have a wide range of fall color from yellow to crimson and could make excellent focal points for the garden or they could become a fruiting hedge that erupts into a blaze of color in the fall. Blueberries can be pruned to keep them tidy and within bounds in the landscape.
Blueberries have different hardiness levels so it’s important to look for plants hardy in your planting zone and there are blueberries that will grow well from zones 3- 10. Blueberries prefer acidic soil so before buying blueberry plants have your soil tested. There are products that you can mix into the soil to make it more acidic if necessary, but if your soil is very alkaline blueberries may not be the best choice for you. Blueberries need full sun to produce fruit and make the best fall color. They can take several years to begin bearing fruit. It’s generally better for fruit production to plant two different varieties of blueberries and you will have a wide selection to choose from.
For red fall color consider these blueberry varieties; BlueCrop, Spartan, Toro, Brigitta, Auroa, Chippewa, NorthSky, Northblue, Northcountry. For orange fall color try Legacy, Liberty, Patriot, Tophat, Razz, and for yellow fall color try Draper, Bluegold, Jersey, and Pink Lemonade. There are many other varieties of blueberries with good fall color. Some varieties of blueberries developed for southern states may be evergreen, retaining their leaves all winter.
Serviceberries or saskatoons
Plants in the Amelanchier family commonly known as serviceberries or saskatoons make large shrubs or small trees. There are varieties hardy from zones 3-9 but are probably better suited for northern areas of zone 6 and lower. Not only do these wonderful plants produce delicious, healthful fruit that resembles blueberries in size and color, but they also are pretty in the spring with clusters of white flowers and again in the fall when the leaves turn brilliant colors.
Saskatoons and serviceberries are not too fussy about soil as long as it is well drained. You only need one plant to get fruit as they are self- pollinating. There are fewer varieties on the market than blueberries and most Amelanchiers have bright orange or yellow fall foliage.
Aronia is a striking European landscape plant with pretty white flowers in the spring that turn into purple-black fruits that are used for juices and jellies. Aronia makes a large bush about 6 feet high with attractive foliage. It can be used as a single specimen or a hedge. They are self-fertile so only one plant is needed for fruit. They prefer full sun locations and are hardy from zones 3-8. Viking and Nero are two common varieties. In the fall Aronia has flaming red foliage.
Some currants have great fall color, sweet fruit and look good in the garden all year. The yellow clove currant Crandall has sweetly scented yellow flowers in spring, sweet black fruit and brilliant red fall foliage.
Shipova or Rabina Mountain Ash
Mountain Ash is not related to our native Ash trees and does not fall victim to the Emerald Ash Borer. These are small ornamental trees with white flowers in spring, brilliant clusters of orange berries in fall and orange-red fall foliage color. The rose-hip like fruits of these trees are very tempting to birds but also make a great jelly or wine. Plant two varieties of Mountain Ash for the best fruit production. Grow in zones 3-9.
There are a few other plants that can do double duty in the landscape. While crabapples don’t have pretty fall foliage as a rule, they do have pretty spring flowers and the fruit, which comes in a variety of colors, often hangs on well into fall. Crabapple fruits make excellent jelly and can be blended with other apples for cider. Ligonberries have tiny dark green leaves that remain green all winter. They have red berries that provide fall color and make excellent jelly. Ligonberries make a good ground cover or rock garden plants. They grow in full sun or partial shade.
Highbush cranberry is a North American native plant that isn’t related to cranberries but is a Viburnum. It makes a good hedge plant that tolerates moist areas and shade. In fall it has clusters of pretty red berries as well as brilliant red foliage. The berries are used for jelly and wine. Cornus Mas is a dogwood with yellow spring flowers, red, elongated cherry like fruits in summer, and yellow fall foliage. It is a small tree that thrives in zones 4-8 and will tolerate light shade. Jujubes ( Zizyphus jujube) is a rather rare plant from China that will grow in North America in zones 6-10. They are small trees that are usually grafted and a bit expensive. You need two varieties to get the red, pear-like fruit, which doesn’t always form or ripen in colder areas. The trees are nice landscape trees with small dark green foliage that turns bright yellow in fall.
By using a little care in your selection of landscape plants you can achieve both good fall color and some fruit for eating. Even if you don’t harvest the fruit the birds will love you for planting edible landscaping.
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