11 Fast Growing Trees - Growing Tips + Photos

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by Max - last update on October 21, 2020, 8:56 am
Fast Growing Trees

Fast-growing trees are effective for quickly transforming the look of a garden or providing shade in a short space of time. If you're looking for these trees, this is the guide you need.

This useful article details the care conditions and benefits of some of the fastest growing trees available.

1. Silver Birch

Silver Birch

 

Scientific Name: Betula pendula

USDA Hardiness Zone: 2-7

Mature Size: Up to 50 feet tall

Light: Full sun to partial shade

Water: Average to high water needs

Soil: Well-draining

This medium-sized tree is native to Europe and Asia and typically reaches heights of 30 to 40 feet, though in some cases, it will progress to 50 feet tall. It has a fast growth rate, gaining around one and a half feet in height each year and reaching its eventual height in its first ten to 20 years of life. This tree has a slender and graceful look to it, with dainty looking pendulous branches that are cloaked in elegant ovate, toothed, medium green foliage.

The bark of this tree is attractive, and it's where it gained the common name of 'silver birch.' On fresh growth and younger stems and branches, the bark is smooth and golden, but it develops to a striking shade of silver with some black markings as the branches age. On younger trees, all of the bark will remain smooth, though, in older trees, the bark can become more rugged, particularly around the base of the trunk.

This is a deciduous tree with foliage that starts out a fresh shade of green and develops to a warm yellow before the leaves fall from the tree towards the end of the year. The tree produces tiny flowers in spring, which are yellow-tan. The male and female flowers can be easily distinguished, as the male flowers take the form of drooping catkins, while the female flowers are upright catkins.

Thanks to the interesting bark, this is an attractive tree through all seasons, even when the branches are bare. It grows easily, particularly in cooler northern climates, and will not do well in consistently high temperatures. It tolerates a wide range of soils, making it versatile for planting in a variety of circumstances. Though this tree will tolerate dry soils, it performs best in soils that are kept consistently moist and will even thrive in wet or boggy soils. It is very low maintenance and easy to care for and requires very little, if any, pruning.


2. Cider Gum

Cider Gum

 

Scientific Name: Eucalyptus gunnii

USDA Hardiness Zone: 8-10

Mature Size: Up to 115 feet tall

Light: Full sun to partial shade

Water: Average to low moisture needs

Soil: Average, well-draining, acidic

This is an exceptionally fast-growing tree that is native to Tasmania. It is one of the fastest growing and hardiest of all types of Eucalyptus, reaching great heights and making for a stunning specimen tree. It typically grows to around 70 feet in height, but it's not unusual for it to exceed 100 feet. It has a wide spread of around 40 feet, and therefore works as an ideal source of shade but does require ample space to grow. The Cider Gum is renowned for its ability to grow quickly, and it is able to add between four and seven feet to its total height in a single year. It is also popular for its ability to withstand low temperatures compared with other types of Eucalyptus, able to survive in temperatures down to 68° F. The tree benefits from a dense canopy that forms a conical shape.

The foliage has a cute, rounded shape and is silver-blue when young, developing to green-blue with age. The tree is evergreen, keeping its attractive foliage all year round. The bark of the tree adds further interest in a smooth white-gray color, which flakes away in chunks to reveal cream, pink, or brown bark beneath. The Cider Gum tree has been the recipient of the Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society, and it's not hard to see why. The tree thrives in average soil types that are marginally acidic and fertile. It is drought tolerant, easy to care for, and resistant to deer.


3. Weeping Willow

Weeping Willow

 

Scientific Name: Salix babylonica

USDA Hardiness Zone: 6-8

Mature Size: Up to 60 feet tall

Light: Full sun

Water: Maintain moist to wet soil

Soil: Well-draining, fertile

This popular deciduous tree is native to China. It can be a medium to large tree, reaching an eventual height of between 30 and 60 feet. This is a fast-growing tree that gains an average of two feet in height each year, with some trees reaching their ultimate height at just 15 years old. This is an easily identifiable tree, which is loved for its vertically drooping branches that can sweep along the ground.

The tree has an open crown, spreading as wide as it is tall. The graceful branches are adorned with elegant lance-shaped leaves that hang downwards. The foliage is pale green on its surface, with a gray hue on its underside. In fall, the leaves develop to a yellow-green shade before dropping to the ground. Even with bare branches, this tree looks spectacular, with its impressive skeleton revealed. Flowers on this tree arrive in spring, measuring around one inch long each and taking the shape of male or female catkins.

This tree is commonly seen alongside rivers, streams, and lakes because it thrives in wet and fertile soil. It looks stunning with its branches dipping into the water and, with its reflection, mirrored on the surface of the lake. This tree is easy to grow and easy to care for, though it should not be planted close to homes because it has invasive roots that will seek out water pipes and sewage lines, potentially causing cracks and damage.


4. White Poplar

White Poplar

 

Scientific Name: Populus alba

USDA Hardiness Zone: 4-9

Mature Size: Up to 80 feet tall

Light: Full sun

Water: Average to high moisture needs

Soil: Well-draining, average

This tree is native to central Asia and Europe. It is a large, deciduous tree, which has an aggressive growth habit, spreading rapidly via suckers. It has a very fast rate of growth, gaining around four feet in height each year. By the age of 20, the White Poplar will typically have reached its eventual height of around 80 feet tall. This tree has a wide spread, with a broad crown. It needs plenty of space to grow, as it typically spreads as wide as it is tall.

The tree produces catkins that arrive before the foliage is produced. Male and female catkins appear on different trees and give way to seed pods that burst open to reveal fluffy looking seeds. The foliage of this tree is very attractive, with large leaves measuring around five inches across, in shapes with three or five lobes. The surface of the leaves is a dull, dark green, with white veining, while the underneath of the leaves is white with a fuzzy texture. This gives the tree a two-toned effect, which appears to shimmer when the foliage is rustled in the breeze.

The bark of the tree is also attractive, being smooth and white on younger trees, but becoming progressively darker as the tree ages. This tree is popularly used as a windbreak or to provide interest and height along residential streets or golf courses in a short space of time. It tends to be quite short-lived, as the branches are brittle and will often break during storms. The roots of the tree spread aggressively and can be serious problems for property foundations and drains.

Always avoid planting this tree close to buildings or sewage lines. It is often found growing alongside waterways, as this tree thrives in moist soils. It is popular as a specimen tree. However, the risks should be fully understood before planting this tree. In some states in the US, this tree is actually listed as a noxious weed due to its invasive nature and the damage it is able to cause.


5. European Mountain Ash

European Mountain Ash

 

Scientific Name: Sorbus aucuparia

USDA Hardiness Zone: 3-6

Mature Size: Up to 40 feet tall

Light: Full sun

Water: Average to high moisture needs

Soil: Well-draining, acidic

This deciduous tree is native to Siberia, Europe, and western Asia. It grows rapidly when young but then slows down with age, making it ideal for planting in a garden where you want to quickly gain height and give the impression of a mature landscape. When young, this tree has an upright habit, though as it ages, its crown will become more open and rounded. The tree has an elegant look, with slender branches that are adorned with narrow, lance-shaped leaves. The foliage emerges in a shade of dark green, with each leaf measuring up to three inches long. Toward the end of summer, the leaves take on a yellow hue, eventually warming up to shades of orange and red before dropping to the ground in the fall.

Flowers emerge on this tree in spring, in large clusters of tiny white blossoms. These are followed by heavy groups of orange-red berries in late summer, which dangle in groups all over the tree in a very showy manner. These berries will not typically last long on the tree, as they are a good source of food for many different types of birds. This tree has an ornamental interest through every season, with an attractive silhouette even through winter when the branches are bare. It is an easy tree to grow and does not require pruning. It performs best in well-draining soils that are acidic and kept continually moist.


6. Dawn Redwood

Dawn Redwood

 

Scientific Name: Metasequoia glyptostroboides

USDA Hardiness Zone: 5-10

Mature Size: Up to 100 feet tall

Light: Full sun

Water: Average to high moisture needs

Soil: Any soil type that is moist

This is a large coniferous tree that is native to China. It grows to heights of between 70 and 100 feet, with a rapid growth rate. The tree gains at least two feet in height each year, often double this and needs plenty of space to spread out because its eventual width will typically be around 25 feet. Unlike most conifers, which are evergreen, the Dawn Redwood is deciduous and will shed its foliage each winter. It has an attractive shape, taking a narrow pyramid form when young and taking on a more rounded crown with age.

The tree produces sprays of feathery foliage in spring, which emerge in a bright shade of green and develop into a deep green by summer. The lacey foliage becomes various hues of copper, gold, and apricot in the fall before dropping to the ground. The trunk of the tree has an interesting shape, flaring out at the base. In young trees, the bark is red, but this becomes darker and more burgundy as the tree gets older. Dawn redwoods produce oval-shaped female cones that are light brown in color, and the male cones are more spherical. This is an easy growing tree that will thrive in a wide range of soils, including poor soils. It will even tolerate clay soils and waterlogged soils. It can often be seen alongside waterways, as it loves moist soil types.


7. Pin Oak

Pin Oak

 

Scientific Name: Quercus palustris

USDA Hardiness Zone: 5-8

Mature Size: Up to 70 feet tall

Light: Full sun

Water: Average to high moisture needs

Soil: Most soil types

This large, deciduous tree is native to southeastern Canada and the northeastern United States. Oak trees are usually regarded as having quite a slow growth rate, but this oak is the exception and can grow in excess of two feet in height each year, to an eventual height of between 50 and 70 feet. This tree has a dense, broadly pyramid-shaped crown. It has upright top branches, horizontal middle branches, and pendulous lower branches, giving it an interesting silhouette when bare during winter.

The foliage emerges in spring, with deeply lobed leaves in glossy dark green. The small yellow-green catkins also appear around the same time. By fall, the leaves develop to a striking warm shade of red before dropping to the ground. The tree produces acorns that provide an important source of food to many types of wildlife, but these acorns do not usually begin to appear until the tree is at least two decades old.

This is a popular tree that is grown for its ornamental quality, as well as for shade. It has received the Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society for its many outstanding attributes. It grows best in acidic soils but will tolerate almost any soil type, including clay soils.


8. Arborvitae ‘Green Giant’

Arborvitae ‘Green Giant’

 

Scientific Name: Thuja standishii x plicata

USDA Hardiness Zone: 5-8

Mature Size: Up to 60 feet tall

Light: Full sun to partial shade

Water: Average to high moisture needs

Soil: Well-draining

This evergreen tree is native to the Pacific Northwest. It has an impressively fast rate of growth, gaining between three and five feet in height each year. Its eventual height is typically between 50 and 60 feet. The tree has a narrow shape that varies from conical to pyramidal, with a spread ranging from 12 to 20 feet. The tree produces dense sprays of deep green foliage, which remain glossy and attractive all year round.

This tree works well as an individual specimen but can also be very effective planted in rows or grown closely together to form hedging or privacy screening. It is a low maintenance tree that does not require pruning unless you want to keep the height under control or retain neat edges for hedging. This plant thrives in full sun, though it does not enjoy hot summers, so it should be provided some shade in the afternoon in very hot temperatures. It prefers to be protected from strong winds and will not thrive in dry conditions. Grow this tree in well-draining soils that are kept consistently moist.


9. American Aspen

American Aspen

 

Scientific Name: Populus tremuloides

USDA Hardiness Zone: 2-8

Mature Size: Up to 50 feet tall

Light: Full sun

Water: Average to high moisture needs

Soil: Well-draining, fertile

This is a deciduous tree that is native to cool regions of North America and is the state tree of Utah. It is also known as the trembling aspen and the quaking aspen because of the way it appears to be trembling in a very light breeze. This is due to the flexible nature of the tree's petioles, which are the stalks that attach the foliage to the branches of the tree. This is a medium tree, typically growing to between 20 and 50 feet tall. It has a fast growth rate, exceeding two feet per year. The tree has an attractive shape, being slightly pyramidal with a rounded crown.

Flowers in the form of catkins arrive in spring before the leaves have had a chance to emerge. Some trees have male catkins, while others have females. These flowers develop into pendulous clusters of fruit. Dark green foliage emerges shortly after the catkins, with large leaves that are finely toothed. These leaves develop into a rich shade of golden yellow in the fall before dropping to the ground. The bark of the tree is revealed when the branches are bare, with smooth white bark on younger trees, which becomes more rugged with age.

This is a short-lived tree, though its lifespan tends to be longer in dryer regions compared with those that are humid. It spreads via suckers, often to form large colonies of American Aspen trees. It grows best in moist soils that are rich and fertile. The root system of this tree can become invasive, so be sure to plant it away from buildings.


10. Italian Cypress

Italian Cypress

 

Scientific Name: Cupressus sempervirens

USDA Hardiness Zone: 7-9

Mature Size: Up to 70 feet tall

Light: Full sun

Water: Average moisture needs

Soil: Well-draining

This is an evergreen coniferous tree that is native to the Mediterranean region. It has an upright, narrow, column shape, which gives an architectural look to gardens and green public spaces. The stiff branches are adorned with short sprays of lacey foliage in shades of blue-green. If you crush this foliage between your fingers, it will release a strong fragrance.

This is a fast-growing tree that gains between one and two feet of height each year until it reaches an eventual height of between 40 and 70 feet. It is a long-lived tree, with an impressive life expectancy of around 1000 years. This tree grows easily, thriving in moist soils, though it is also tolerant of dry conditions. It should be protected from cool winds that can dry it out. This works well as an individual specimen tree but looks especially striking when planted in rows.


11. Red Maple

Red Maple

 

Scientific Name: Acer rubrum

USDA Hardiness Zone: 3-9

Mature Size: Up to 120 feet tall

Light: Full sun to partial shade

Water: Average to high moisture needs

Soil: Well-draining

This large, deciduous tree is native to eastern North America. It is fast-growing, with a typical height increase of between one and three feet each year. The red maple will reach an eventual height of around 70 feet tall, but it has been known to reach heights of up to 120 feet. When young, the tree is pyramid-shaped and becomes more rounded as it matures. The tree needs plenty of space to grow, with an expected spread of around 50 feet.

The small flowers of this tree appear on bare branches in early spring before the arrival of the leaves. They grow in clusters, are bright red, and develop into red fruits. The leaves emerge blushed with red and become dark green by summer. In the fall, the foliage develops to shades of orange and red before dropping. This tree prefers acidic soils but will grow in a wide range of soil types, including wet soils. It is low maintenance and does not need to be pruned.

 

11 Fast Growing Trees - Growing Tips + Photos

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