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Trees add the finishing touch to an imaginative garden design. As solitary leading figures, they create spatial depth, draw attention and provide shade. Majestic shrubs function as multi-trunk house trees, green sentinels in pots or as a protective wall. Fast-growing trees combine their advantages with floral dynamics and fulfill the design tasks within a few years. Explore 30 ideal conifers, deciduous trees and shrubs with rapid growth.
fast-growing conifers for beds and tubs
Primeval redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides)
For the record holder among the fast-growing conifers, large parks and gardens are the most suitable locations. The gigantic trees inspire when young with red-brown branches and trunks that grow 60 to 100 cm per year. Due to this growth power, the primeval sequoia reaches an impressive height of up to 35 meters far from its home in the Far East. In multi-trunk specimens, the mighty partial axes unite to form a single tree trunk as they age.Primeval redwood, Metasequoia glyptostroboides
There is no botanical relationship with the North American sequoias, as can be seen from the slender shape and an elegant, densely branched cone crown. In autumn, the titans surprise with a play of colors that is unusual for conifers. Then the needles turn yellow to reddish brown before falling to the ground.
Japanese cedar (Cryptomeria japonica)
Japanese cedar trees do not keep the gardener in suspense until the conifers reach a remarkable height of 15 meters. The pure species is characterized by annual growth of 40 to 70 cm. On the other hand, attractive hybrids such as the Hahnenkamm cedar 'Cristata', with 25 to 40 cm, take it a little more leisurely. The Asian conifers owe their name to the decoratively curved needles that retain their fresh green color all year round.Cryptomeria japonica, Japanese cedar
The Asian conifers do not have a robust winter hardiness in their luggage, even if they are grown in the local tree nursery. During the first 5 to 8 years, winter protection should not be missing in the care program so that cedar trees can adjust to the Central European winter climate.
Scots pine, Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris)
For the vast majority of native conifers, rapid annual growth is of secondary importance. Whereas the Scots pine is a notable exception. Because with a growth rate of 40 to 50 cm per year, it is one of the growth rockets among conifers. The resulting varieties can also boast of being fast-growing trees, as the following overview shows:
- Scots pine as a pure species: 40 to 50 cm per year
- 'Fastigiata' as columnar pine: 20 to 40 cm per year
- Shrub Scots pine 'Watereri': 15 to 30 cm per year
The two cultivars are the answer of competent breeders to the multiple desire to develop fast-growing conifers for small gardens and containers. Because the columnar pine 'Fastigiata' is limited to a growth height of 8 to 10 meters, with a width of slender 120 to 150 cm. The shrub Scots pine 'Watereri' remains at a size and width of 5 to 6 m.
Norway maple (Acer platanoides)
Vigorous growth of up to 150 cm per year is just one of the diverse attributes of the native maple species. Even before the shapely leaves sprout, the deciduous trees shine with lemon-yellow blossoms. The nectar-rich blossoms of the Norway maple are a popular destination for bees, bumblebees and butterflies, which is appreciated by natural gardeners. Especially since the trees with broad, spreading crowns provide pleasant shade throughout the summer.
With a spectacular autumn color in bright yellow, orange and red, the trees, which can be up to 30 meters tall, say goodbye to the well-deserved winter break. Norway maple is also the progenitor for popular varieties that adorn the front garden as fast-growing deciduous trees, line avenues or flank the entrance gate in buckets.
The following overview lists recommended hybrids and refinements:
- 'Faassen's Black', also known as blood maple: 30 to 60 cm annual growth at a height of 10 to 15 m
- 'Globosum', also known as spherical maple: 30 to 40 cm annual growth with a growth height of 3 to 4.50 m
- 'Crimson Sentry', columnar blood maple: 50 to 80 cm annual growth at 6 to 10 m in height and 1.50 to 2.50 m in width
As the data on growth rate and final height show, the rapid expansion of the trees is limited to a few years. As is characteristic of all fast-growing trees, the rapid growth gradually decreases on average from the tenth year.
Bluebell tree (Paulownia tomentosa)
The blue bell tree is often referred to as the emperor tree to pay tribute to its furious properties. Even before the majestic leaves are presented, the Asian trees are a floral revelation. A sea of blue-violet bell-shaped flowers, which gather in dense panicles up to 30 cm long, inspires with an unsurpassed long-distance effect. Home gardeners do not have to wait long to enjoy this spectacle of flowers. Because the rapid growth of 30 to 50 cm per year brings the first spectacle of flowers to the pure species after only 3 to 5 years. Under ideal conditions, fast-growing varieties can already boast of the blossom festival from the second year of growth.Paulownia tomentosa, bluebell tree
The bluebell tree species Paulownia fortunei 'Nordmax21' is botanically closely related to the popular bluebell tree for garden culture and is considered the fastest tree in the world. With an annual growth of up to 600 cm, it trumps other fast-growing trees by far. The only drawback is the limited winter hardiness of -6.5 °C to -12.5 °C, so this floral floor is only suitable for gardens within winter hardiness zone 8.
The garden suitability of such a growth rate is questionable anyway, because for a well-groomed appearance of these deciduous trees, extensive pruning measures are part of the care program at very short time intervals.
Japanese carnation (Prunus serrulata)
Picturesque fairy tale flowers and rapid growth characterize the Japanese carnation cherry and its popular cultivars. An annual increase of 50 to 70 cm in the pure species leads to the hoped-for result of a decorative growth height of 5 to 10 m within a short time. Under the weight of seductively scented, sometimes lavishly filled flowers, the densely branched funnel crowns form into elegant domes, whose charisma no one can escape. The fast-growing deciduous trees cause a sensation once again when the leaves turn bright yellow in autumn.
The most beautiful varieties of these fast-growing Asian jewels are presented in the following list:
- 'Kanzan': 30 to 70 cm annual growth with a height of 8 to 10 m and a width of 4.50 to 8 m
- 'Amanogawa': 20 to 50 cm annual growth with a height of 3.50 to 5 m and a width of 100 to 150 cm
- 'Kiku-shidare-Zakura': 20 to 40 cm annual growth with a height of 3 to 5 m and a width of 2.50 to 4.50 m
The premium variety with unique attributes is the Japanese carnation cherry 'Royal Burgundy'. With a breathtaking speed of 50 to 100 cm per year, it is going head-to-head with other fast-growing deciduous trees. Add to that her lavish spring blooms, which rise above crimson foliage and turn an elegant bronze hue in fall. Since the pretty shrubs thrive with both one and multiple trunks, they can be used flexibly as small trees or flowering, fast-growing hedges with a privacy factor.
Deciduous shrubs - decorative and dynamic
Summer lilac, butterfly bush (Buddleja davidii)
As ideal, fast-growing shrubs, summer lilacs are very popular for the imaginative design of beds, balconies and terraces. Because the pure species and its colorful variations from the hands of competent breeders do not waste time with restrained growth. In a sunny, warm location, they push the floral accelerator pedal with 50 to 150 cm per year.
With a never-ending flowering period from June/July to September/October, the fast-growing shrubs are a guarantee for summer blooms. In addition, the flowering shrubs are extremely pruning-tolerant and good-naturedly forgive some beginner's mistakes. Beautiful, fast-growing varieties for beds and tubs are summarized in the following selection:
- 'White Profusion', white flower panicles: 30 to 150 cm annual growth at 200 to 300 cm in height
- 'Pink Delight', pink premium variety: 30 to 150 cm annual growth at a height of 200 to 250 cm
- 'Black Knight', dark violet flowers: 20 to 50 cm annual growth at a height of 200 to 300 cm
- 'Dart's Papillon Blue', light violet hanging panicles: 30 to 100 cm annual growth at a height of 120 to 150 cm
The good-natured pruning tolerance qualifies summer lilac as a decorative underplanting for fast-growing trees. When the flowering season of the majestic bluebell trees is drawing to a close, summer lilacs settled on the tree grate seamlessly continue the floral spectacle. Thanks to a tolerant attitude towards the pH value of the soil, the shrubs are perfect for staging impressive conifers as flowery foot soldiers.
Pruning the shrubs back to knee height in early spring easily regulates height growth without affecting the annual abundance of flowers. Because the woody beauties always bloom on the one-year-old shoots, which gain even more vitality as a result of pruning.
Panicle Hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata)
Hydrangeas usually outperform other ornamental trees when it comes to speed of growth. Nevertheless, the genus finds its way into a selection of ideal shrubs. Because the pure species and its magnificent varieties understand a perfect combination of lively growth and opulent abundance of flowers. While the shoots grow an impressive 100 cm in length every year with the romantic inflorescences. A semi-shady, sheltered location motivates the flowering shrubs to perform at their best without the need for extensive care work.
We present fast-growing varieties for the garden, balcony and terrace in the following overview:
- 'Levana' with up to 50 cm large, pure white flowers: 60 to 100 cm annual growth at 200 to 300 cm
- 'Limelight' with white panicles of flowers, fading to pink: 30 to 60 cm annual growth at a height of 150 to 200 cm
- 'Pinky Winky' with bicolored flowers in white and pink: 30 to 50 cm annual growth at a height of 150 to 200 cm
Panicle hydrangeas are not only the ideal candidates when fast-growing shrubs are on the gardener's wish list. In contrast to their conspecifics, the ornamental trees do not pose any riddles when it comes to cutting care. After a vigorous pruning in spring, the flowering shrubs show their most beautiful side from early summer. Thanks to the good relationship with pruning shears, we have the option of training them to become high stems. If young shrubs are consistently pruned on the strong central shoot, small deciduous trees with huge flower balls emerge in summer.
Black elderberry, lilac berry (Sambucus nigra)
Traditional shrubs are making a furious comeback in natural garden design. In addition, black elder has been convincing for generations with rapid growth of up to 70 cm per year, dense foliage and edible berries. Because even in medieval monastery and cottage gardens, the shrubs, up to 10 meters tall, replaced other trees as the central eye-catcher in the crossroads.Sambucus nigra, black elder, lilac berry
So that the return to old values in ecologically oriented garden design does not fail due to the expansive habit of a lilac berry, there are now small varieties to choose from. Thus, a Sambucus nigra 'Thundercloud' remains at a height of 300 to 500 cm and still expands by up to 50 cm every year.
Curly willow (Salix erythroflexuosa)
An enticing sight paired with fast-paced growth. The fast-growing curly willow does not depend on lavish blooms. Because the spiral-shaped branches with dark green, lanceolate leaves and the distinctive catkins in spring make the ornamental tree a feast for the eyes in the truest sense of the word.
With an annual increase of up to 100 cm, the final height of 300 to 500 cm is reached in no time at all. Whereas the robust cut tolerance makes it easy for the gardener to give his curly willows a neat appearance.
Weigela 'Bristol Ruby' (Weigela)
The uncrowned queen of the ideal flowering shrubs for the ornamental garden does not take long to unfold its splendor. There are many varieties of weigela, all of which have attractive properties. Only the wonderful 'Bristol Ruby' is endowed with unsurpassed beauty and growth at top speed. At 30 to 60 cm, its shoots reach for the sky, taking us into the land of garden dreams with ruby-red blossoms from May to July.
A slight pruning is enough for the flower spectacle to be repeated in autumn, accompanied by golden-yellow to reddish-brown foliage.
Evergreen shrubs - rapid growth and furious blooms
Large-leaved cherry laurel (Prunus laurocerasus)
Evergreen leaves and rapid growth were a contradiction in terms for a long time, until the cherry laurel genus entered the garden stage. As the most vital species within the genus, the large-leaved cherry laurel grows by up to 50 cm in height every year. For this reason, an opaque hedge to protect privacy is not long in coming. Especially since a flexible location tolerance coupled with undemanding care have catapulted the laurel cherry to a top position among the most popular hedge shrubs.
Large-leaved barberry (Berberis julianae)
Fast-growing ornamental shrubs with a defensive character are the ideal guardians of your privacy. A prime example in this category is the large-leaved barberry, whose evergreen foliage is interspersed with sharp thorns. Because this bulwark reliably keeps unwanted guests and prying eyes away from the property. Rigid upright growth and an annual increase of up to 50 cm allow the privacy screen to gain height within a short period of time. Golden-yellow flowers in spring and black-blue fruit decorations in autumn ensure the decorative aspect of the bushy fortress.