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The Best Trees and Shrubs for Winter Color


After a summer full of colorful foliage and flowers, your yard might feel a little bleak and monochrome over the winter. But just because we’re heading for a few months of rain and snow, it doesn’t have to feel like looking at a black and white photo when you look out the window.


There are several different trees and shrubs that feature beautiful winter interest, either with berries on evergreens or colorful and uniquely textured bark. Here are a few trees and shrubs with winter color for Pennsylvania.

Red Twig Dogwood is an excellent shrub in full leaf during the summer, but it might be even more impressive in winter. Its bark is a vibrant red, and it contrasts beautifully against the greens, grays, and whites of winter. Its branches also add a beautiful delicate texture to a winter landscape. Dogwood does well in a location with rich and consistently moist soil.


Scarlet Willow ‘Britzensis’ has a similar style to Red Twig Dogwood. It is a small deciduous tree, but it can be grown as a shrub if you prefer the look. Its bark is a rich orange color, and it seems to glow throughout the winter, if anything, intensifying in late winter. Scarlet Willow does best in soil that has good drainage.


River Birch is another tree with beautiful bark in the winter. The pinkish-white bark peels and flakes with cinnamon-colored layers. Its beauty is revealed in the winter when there are no distracting leaves. This tree has a strong structure to it and can be grown as a single trunk or as a multi-stemmed trunk. River birch will do best in a location with consistently moist soil.

Japanese Stewartia is another small deciduous tree with exfoliating bark. The leaves are beautiful shades of gold to red in the fall, revealing the winter interest. The bark peels in strips from Japanese Stewartia in shades of grey, orange, and cinnamon brown. This tree also has an elegant and balanced conical shape. Japanese Stewartia will do best in moist but well-drained soils.


Crabapples are an excellent choice for a tree that features colorful fruit throughout the winter. The small apples are usually a bright red by the end of summer, and the color deepens to a more burgundy red over the winter. The fruit hangs on for much of the season, adding color and texture to the landscape. They’re also popular with birds like Cedar Waxwings. Crabapples need good drainage in their soil, and once established, they’re quite drought-tolerant.


Eastern Red Cedar is an evergreen with a presence. It can get quite large, but it features an attractive dense and balanced pyramidal shape. The foliage is quite finely textured, and boasts shades of beautiful dark bluish-greens. Female Eastern Red Cedars produce beautiful dark blue-purple berries that the birds love. Male trees produce bunches of tiny delicate cones that contrast with the foliage in late winter. The Eastern Red Cedar will grow in almost any soil, and once established, they’re also quite drought-tolerant.

American Holly is a broadleaf evergreen with shiny, leathery leaves in a vibrant green color. The spiky leaves and red berries of American Holly are a bright spot in the winter landscape. The berries are popular with birds, so they may not last all winter. The broad, bright green leaves are a beautiful textural variation from the usual needle-leaf conifers. American Holly prefers well-drained acidic soil.

There’s still time to add some beautiful new additions to your landscape in Allentown. Fall is the perfect time to plant trees and shrubs, so stop by the garden center and pick out some winter color to feast your eyes on.

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