For brilliant red color in the fall, it's hard to beat the red chokeberry (Aronia arbutifolia). Its red fall foliage is augmented by bright red berries. And because the berries are very astringent, they often remain uneaten by wildlife and stay on the plant all winter. Red chokeberry is a good alternative to the euonymus shrub called burning bush, which is considered an invasive species in many parts of the country.
The red chokeberry has a multi-stemmed growth habit and, although deciduous, makes an attractive landscape shrub throughout the year. In the spring, it bears numerous clusters of pinkish-white flowers. Chokeberry leaves are glossy and dark green until fall, and the stems have attractively textured bark that stands out in the winter landscape. The red chokeberry is especially well suited to woodland-type gardens.
A native of the eastern United States, the red chokeberry grows well throughout the transition zone. It tolerates both wet and dry conditions, but prefers well-drained, slightly acidic soil. If your soil is sandy or has a lot of clay, you can always amend it with Miracle-Gro® Organic Choice® Garden Soil or Miracle-Gro® Garden Soil for Trees and Shrubs. Red chokeberry grows in sun or partial shade, but will bear better flowers and fruit in full sun. Mature plants will grow 6-10 feet high and 3-5 feet wide. In naturalized landscaping, the shrubs tend to grow in clusters.
The black chokeberry is slightly smaller than its red counterpart, and it has black fruit that does not last through the winter. It is somewhat hardier than the red chokeberry. The purple chokeberry appears to be a hybrid of the black and red species.