You've probably seen a similar family; three kids with dirty dishwater blond hair and one suspiciously fiery redhead. Ha, that's the story of my sumac shrubs.
I've got lots of Fragrant Sumac, 'Gro-Low', a great native plant cultivar. It's a low maintenance, adaptable plant, a spreading tall groundcover in masses or a striking stand alone specimen. The majority of mine is planted as a long hedge along the driveway. Others are here and there spotted among rocks and grasses above my rain swale. Three different locations and three different shades of fall color.
What causes trees or shrubs to exhibit a wide spectrum of fall color from brilliant to blah. Why does one make you say "Wow" and while another makes you say, "What?"
Like with children trees and shrubs are a combination of varying genes and bloodlines that can affect what color you actually get. Of course weather is a big factor depending upon the timing of frosts along with summer rainfall and other things. And within your yard microclimates can all determine how spectacular your fall foliage turns, or not.
Go to the tree farm or garden center and it's apparent. As you walk down the rows of trees you'll see the difference from tree to tree. When purchasing trees and shrubs specifically for fall color potential the best thing you can do is shop for them at the peak of fall color in your area. This way you can pick a standout.
Meanwhile I'll wait and see what this week's cold does to the long hedge. Is it too much to wish it all would turn as red as the one hidden behind the house?