15 Shrubs With Red Leaves

15 Shrubs With Red Leaves

Shrubs are small woody plants with overall cover of foliage, flowers or production. They are defined as versatile woody plants with persistent multiple woody stems above ground. They are valuable for their use in landscapes and aesthetic appearance. Various varieties of shrubs with red leaves are found that increase the overall beauty of a place.

Shrubs are not just beautiful plants but have various other importance such as they have a dense root system that helps to hold soil in place and prevents erosion. These plants are great air purifiers too and also help to regulate the temperature of surroundings. And the greatest fact about suburbs is they are very easy to care for and resilient plants and most of them also produce fruits.

In this article I’ll write about a few of my favorite shrubs with red leaves but first let me explain why there are various colors such as red and purple leaves of plants.

For more information about houseplants you can visit: 7 Causes Of Fiddle Leaf Fig Leaf Curling

Different Colors of Leaves

Ornamental plants are of great value in the world of aesthetics and beautiful landscapes, undoubtedly due to their wonderful appearance. The reason behind this is the presence of numerous vibrant colors of their leaves and flowers. One may wonder who painted these beautiful colors, so here I will tell the reason behind these beautiful colors.

A plant cell has several different organelles and one of them is Plastid. It contains various pigments such as chlorophyll that is responsible for the green color of leaves in plants. Similarly the main culprit behind the red color of  my plants is Anthocyanin. Anthocyanin is a pigment that absorbs blue, green and blue-green wavelengths of light and reflects red-orange light. Thus I get to see my plant in a beautiful red color. 

Other reasons behind the red color of leaves may include seasonal changes (as some plant varieties change their color specially during fall), environmental effects, availability of sunlight as plants produce more vibrant colors in bright light.

Types of Shrubs

Shrubs are versatile woody plants that are perennials by nature. They are classified into various categories and multiple classifications, however general types or categories of shrubs are as follows.

  1. By Foliage Type:
  • Evergreen- In the area of my garden where I want greenery round the year, I choose these evergreen shrubs. Example: boxwood, holly. These shrubs have the ability to retain green leaves round the year. Many varieties have dense foliage and can be used as a green fence around the garden. These shrubs require less maintenance making them more valuable.
  • Deciduous- Unlike evergreen shrubs, these shrubs shed their leaves in cold seasons i.e, fall and winter. But they have various other significant factors such as the falling of beautiful colored leaves during autumn which provides a dreamy view. Examples include Japanese maples, lilac. These plants also give fragrant pleasure along with beautiful landscapes.
  1. By Growth Habit
  • Upright-  As the name shows these shrubs have upright posture and grow vertically upward. They are a great variety to be selected for vertical gardening. Their flowers are also important for landscapes.
  • Spreading- These shrubs have the ability to grow horizontally proving them as a good ground cover. They are generally small varieties and a good choice to be used as companion plant with various 
  • Rounding- These are a wonderful category of shrubs and grow both vertically and horizontally forming a compact round shape. Most amazing fact about these shrubs is that they can be crafted into various shapes and provide an entirely different and elegant look to the garden. Examples are hydrangea, butterfly bush, spirea.
  1. By Size
  • Dwarf – These are small varieties under 1 meter ideal for small gardens and to be grown under other plants.
  • Medium-  These shrubs are of moderate size in between 1-3 meters. They are versatile and provide beautiful landscapes. Such as lilacs.
  • Large- These shrubs are large reaching to height of 3 meters. They can be used to form elegant natural wall covers. Example is the Fiery fair.
  1. By Functions

By function shrubs have the following categories.

  • Flowering- They produce vibrant flowers, Example: Red Azalea.
  • Hedge-  These are small shrubs and great to use as borders. Example: Heavenly Bamboo.
  • Fruiting- Along with providing an elegant look these shrubs provide us with fruit. Example: Raspberry

Shrubs with Red Leaves

Here I have enlisted several varieties of shrubs with red leaves along with their description that one can plant to give an everlasting attractive look to the garden. But one must always consider the favorable temperature, climate zone and region according to plant growth preferences.

In this list description like shrub type, USDA Hardiness Zone and Mature size along with description of plant is given below;

1. Red Robin Photinia

Red Robin Photinia by thegardenation

Photinia x fraseri

  • Type- Broadleaf evergreen
  • Hardiness Zone- 6-9
  • Mature Size- 6-10 meters

Red Robin Photinia are identified by their red glossy leaves round the year, with no changes in appearance across different seasons. They prefer bright sunlight and express their vibrant color in it. They have a dense foliage pattern.

These plants are very tall as well as easier and quicker to grow, reaching their mature size sooner. They are so versatile that even in snowy weather they stand tall as red cheerful shrubs. You should also checkout: 15 Weeds That Look Like Wheat

2. Firethorn

Firethorn by thegardenation

Pyracantha coccinea

  • Type- Broadleaf evergreen
  • Hardiness Zone- 5-9
  • Mature Size- 1-2 meters

This variety is recognized by its white beautiful flowers blooming across the season, followed by clusters of red berries grown through fall and winter. Its green foliage stays year-round. This explains its aesthetic as well as food importance.

This medium sized variety can be planted as borders and against the walls as an ornamental shrub. It also prefers bright sunlight and tolerates various types of soils. Its berries attract pollinators, birds nourishing the overall ecosystem of the garden.

3. Heavenly Bamboo

Nandina domestica

  • Type- Broadleaf evergreen
  • Hardiness Zone- 6-9
  • Mature Size- 1-2 meters

This evergreen variety shows beautiful color when cold weather falls. Its beautiful blooms give a warm welcome to winter providing an eye-catching view to one’s garden. It produces clusters of red berries that add to its value.

This plant requires less sunlight and can even survive under shade of other trees. It has the ability to tolerate various soil conditions. Another fact about this plant is that it is believed to bring good luck to  homes where planted.

4. Japanese Barberry

Japanese Barberry by thegardenation

Berberis thunbergii

  • Type- Deciduous or Evergreen
  • Hardiness Zone- 4-8
  • Mature Size-  1-2 meters

This cultivar is available in two beautiful varieties. One is green year round and the other is seasonal color shifting deciduous variety. The deciduous variety exposes bright to deep red foliage during fall. Along with foliage it is clustered with berries.

This plant is best suited for borders as foundations. It has a high tolerance ability and can survive in partial  shade too. It  is an excellent choice as it is easy to care for and provides an attractive look to the garden.

5. Fire Power

Fire Power by thegardenation

Nandina dommestica

  • Type- Broadleaf evergreen
  • Hardiness Zone- 6-9
  • Mature Size- 1-2 meters

It is also an evergreen variety packed with red foliage year-round. Even in snowy weather it glows red. Along with its red foliage it is filled with white spring blooms and bed berries. With other Nandina varieties it provides an elegant decorative look to the garden.

These varieties are easy to care for and like many species of shrubs it also loves  bright sunlight to show its bright colors. It also has ability to maintain its size without requiring frequent pruning.

6. Redbud

Redbud by thegardenation

Cercis canadensis

  • Type- Deciduous
  • Hardiness Zone- 4-9
  • Mature Size- 6-9 meters

These shrubs contain beautiful pink flowers with green leaves. When the fall season breaks down these leaves transform into an attractive red color. It is a large sized variety ideal for providing shade to gardens.

This is a highly tolerant variety and has the ability to mature quickly. That makes it an excellent choice for one’s garden adding a charm and beauty to the place.

7. Oakleaf Hydrangea

Oakleaf Hydrangea by thegardenation

Hydranngea quercifolia

  • Type- Deciduous
  • Hardiness Zone- 5-9
  • Mature Size- 1-2 meters

Like various other varieties its leaves also transform into beautiful red, orange and purple colors during seasonal changes. Its white attractive flowers add elegance to its beauty. Its oak-like leaves continue adding interest to its beauty even before fall.

This short variety is suitable for borders or shade gardens. It prefers shade instead of sunlight but can thrive in sunlight too. It is easy to care for and requires minimum pruning.

8. Burning Bush

Burning Bush by thegardenation

Euonymus alatus

  • Type- Deciduous
  • Hardiness Zone- 4-9
  • Mature Size- 3-5 Meters

Burning bush, available in vibrant red, orange and yellow colors just as its name shows. Besides its aesthetic importance this plant has some harmful effects. It is an invasive shrub species that can harm other plants.

Choose its alternatives if available like Amur Maple for similar appearance. This plant species requires proper care and research before and after planting to prevent its harmful effects.

9. Amur Maple

Amur Maple by thegardenation

Acer ginnala

  • Type- Deciduous
  • Hardiness Zone- 3-8
  • Mature Size- 3-5 meters

A great alternative to burning bush, Amur Maple is a small deciduous shrub with vibrant red fall foliage. It is best suited for small spaces enhancing landscape view and supporting the overall ecosystem.

It also has great stress tolerant ability and survives in sun or partial shade. It is ecologically important for attracting small animals towards gardens providing them food.

10. Ninebark Diablo

Ninebark Diablo by thegardenation

Physocarpus opulifolius

  • Type- Deciduous
  • Hardiness Zone-  3-7
  • Mature Size- 2-3 meters

This shrub variety is known for its dark red foliage, and in late spring clusters of white flowers appearing on it add another layer of beauty to them. Its dark reddish- brown bark has its own place in the aesthetics year-round.

This variety thrives in both sun and shade. It prefers well drained soil so it maintains proper moisture. They are excellent for gardening as they require minimal pruning and watering.

11. Redtwig Dogwood

Redtwig Dogwood by thegardenation

Cornus sericea

  • Type- Deciduous
  • Hardiness Zone- 3-8
  • Mature Size- 2-3 meters

Even when snowfalls, redtwig  dogwood stems keep the garden vibrant with red colors making it an attraction for sight seekers. Its unique colored branches along with green summer leaves mark a good place in ornamental plants. As a companion plant it is an excellent contrast. Its berries attract small animals to the garden increasing vibrance to landscapes. If you have interest in more houseplants also visit: 8 Monstera Growth Stages

12. Winterberry 

Winterberry  by thegardenation

Ilex verticillata

  • Type- Deciduous
  • Hardiness Zone- 3-7 
  • Mature Size- 1-2 meters

This red shrub has its importance for its beautiful red berries growing in winters. About its leaves, they show seasonal transition from green to yellow colors. This shrub keeps adding to the beauty of the garden even during snow.

This variety tolerates various soils and survives near ponds and where water is readily available.

13. Red Osier Dogwood

Red Osier Dogwood by thegardenation

Cornus sericea

  • Type- Deciduous
  • Hardiness Zone- 3-7
  • Mature Size- 2-3 meters

It is  known for its beautiful red stem catching attraction during snowy winters. It is a tolerant variety that can survive in various soils, partial and full sun and is easy to grow. In late spring, clusters of creamy white flowers add to its beauty. Reddish purple fall foliage is another aspect towards its beauty. 

14. Red Currant

Red Currant by thegardenation

Ribes rubrum

  • Type- Deciduous
  • Hardiness Zone- 3-8
  • Mature Size- 1-2 meters

Red currant are deciduous shrubs reaching 1-2 meter height and quick growing hedges. They produce delicate white flowers and their flavorful red berries add a unique look to its appearance.

It is also a low maintenance shrub requiring minimum pruning and survives in well-drained soil and sun. Berries are widely used in jams, jellies and fresh eating.

15. Rose of Sharon

Rose of Sharon by thegardenation

Hibiscus syriacus

  • Type-Deciduous
  • Hardiness Zone- 5-9
  • Mature Size- 1-3 meters

Surviving in warm climates makes it a perfect choice for sunny regions. Rose of Sharon offers vibrant bloom without thorns unlike roses. Large, single, double flowers in various shades of pink, purple ,red, white, lavender bloom makes it an excellent ornamental shrub.

Like most of the varieties it is also a very versatile variety that can survive various soil types, full sun and require minimum care.

These are a few varieties of shrubs with red colored leaves, flowers or berries each having their own unique, vibrant and beautiful appearance. Red being my favorite color, these red colored shrubs secure an important place in my heart and I hope this explanation will help to select a variety of shrubs in your garden. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Shrubs with Red Leaves

How Long Does a Shrub Take to Grow?

Being a resilient, versatile family of Plants, shrubs are easier and rapidly grown varieties. But it may depend on local climate, selected cultivar and provided conditions. However, once planted most varieties take 2-3 years while some take 5-10 years. Overall, shrubs are excellent choices for house gardening.

Which is Best in Red Shrubs?

There is no single answer to this as it may depend on one’s own use whether the shrub is to be planted as border or hedge, foundation or ground cover. However, my personal opinion is Redtwig dogwood because of its year-round interest, adaptability, rapid growth and ecosystem enhancement. 


There are several varieties of red leaf shrubs. Here I have enlisted 15 of them. It helped me learn about the importance of each variety as well as the versatility of shrubs. That is why  shrubs are an excellent choice as an ornamental plant for house gardening. Here I have explained types of these shrubs along with their preferred hardiness zones and mature size, so one can choose variety according to place and use.

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