Best Fast Growing Trees

Weeping willow

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Your new favorite tree could put on a show in the garden within just a few years. When exploring fast-growing trees, consider the climate and space that is available. Plan ahead for all four seasons. Is it most important that the tree blooms in spring, or offers fall foliage to an otherwise monotone part of the garden? Maybe it adds winter interest during cold months?

From around the world, here are six fast growing trees that will thrive in full sun.

  • 01 of 06

    Kanzan Cherry Trees

    Flowering Japanese Kanzan Cherry

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    Kanzan Cherry Trees (Prunus serrulata ‘Kanzan’) grow quickly and beautifully for small spaces such as patios. Planted for their attractive, showy double pink flowers, their beauty extends to fall when the green deciduous foliage turns yellow and orange-bronze. The tree has an upright-spreading form, reaching 15 to 25 feet tall and 15 to 25 feet wide. "Sekiyama" is the tree's original name, stemming from its native roots in China, Japan and Korea. More commonly it is known as Kwanzan or Japanese flowering cherry. The tree makes a good companion with white blooming Yoshino cherry trees every April. Purely ornamental, it does not bear any fruit yet is beloved for its aesthetic and ability to be cultivated as a bonsai.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 9
    • Sun Exposure: Full Sun
    • Soil Needs: Tolerant of clay, loam, sand, acidic, alkaline, occasionally wet, well-drained soil. Poor tolerance for soil salt.
  • 02 of 06

    Japanese Angelica Tree

    Japanese Angelica Tree (Aralia elata) aka Devil's Walking Stick tree

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    The Japanese angelica tree (Aralia elata) is a small deciduous tree. During late summer, it puts on a show of cream-colored blossoms. Every autumn, leaves turn yellow to reddish purple. Wildlife enjoy eating the pink fruit it bears from early to late fall. Bark is brownish-green and very showy, adding winter interest. Considered an invasive species, the Japanese angelica tree grows quickly 20 to 40 feet tall and 15 to 30 feet wide. Its multi-stemmed, ground-hugging form characterizes it as both a tree and a shrub. Due to its large seed production, the tree can easily invade new areas, even forest edges in part shade.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 8
    • Sun Exposure: Full Sun to Part Shade
    • Soil Needs: Moist, well-drained
  • 03 of 06

    Weeping Willow

    Weeping Willow Tree

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    The weeping willow (Salix babylonica) adds romance and grace to the garden. In April and May, yellow flowers are born on short catkins. Silvery finely toothed green foliage turns yellow in fall when the tree yields small brown fruit and leaves little litter behind. Native to China, it casts many legends and metaphors. Some lovers of the willow believe "weeping" recalls the way raindrops travel down the branches and drip "tears" from the leaf tips. In fact, weeping willows like standing in water. Allow the tree space to spread and be free near a pond or a lake. It can grow up to 60 feet in height and width in an attractive rounded shape.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 10
    • Sun Exposure: Full Sun to Part Shade
    • Soil Needs: Rich, moist, slightly acidic
  • 04 of 06

    Sunburst Honey Locust Tree

    Honey Locust Trees in autumn. Park in Belle Isle Detroit, Michigan.

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    Honey locust (genus Gleditsia) is also a part of the pea family (Fabaceae). Native to tropical Africa, North and South America, central and eastern Asia, its genus is of 12 species of thorny trees and shrubs, some of which have been cultivated as ornamentals or used for timber. The common honey locust (Gleditsia triacanthos) in North America grows aggressively as an invasive species even outside its native range. This tree grows up to 130 feet high. Long compound leaves are divided into up to 30 oval leaflets. Flowers are small and greenish white. The tree also makes reddish brown fruit in the form of a flattened pod, each of which is about 18 inches long and sometimes twisted. For easy care, plant a thornless variety that creates light shade. For a versatile, cold-hardy tree, the honey locust could be a perfect fit.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 11
    • Sun Exposure: Full Sun
    • Soil Needs: Rich, moist
    Continue to 5 of 6 below.
  • 05 of 06

    Acacia Tree

    Acacia Tree and African Fish Eagle.

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    There are about 160 species of Acacia trees and shrubs (genus Acacia) in the pea family (Fabaceae). Many have a stunning form and flower display. Native to tropical and subtropical regions of the world, they are most well-known to the savannas of Africa and around Australia. Small finely divided leaves create a nearly fernlike appearance on many varieties. Tiny fragrant flowers, usually yellow but occasionally white, create compost fuzzy-looking globular clusters. Fruits are actually legumes and look very different from species to species. Most bark is rich in tannin, which is used in dyes. Gum acacia (Acacia senegal) yields gum arabic, which is also used in dyes and ink as well as adhesives and other products.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 9 to 11
    • Sun Exposure: Full Sun
    • Soil Needs: Sandy, well-drained
    • Color Varieties: Grey to blue-grey foliage; white, light yellow, to bright yellow flowers
  • 06 of 06

    Royal Poinciana Tree

    Royal Poinciana "flamboyant flame tree" in full bloom, Northern Mariana Islands.

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    Royal poinciana (Delonix regia) is also known by common names "flamboyant tree" or "peacock tree." Its botanical name comes from the Greek delos (conspicuous) and onyx (claw) reminiscent of petals that are unusually spoon-shamed and one larger petal making each bloom similarly shaped to an orchid. These flowers appear in summer and can remain on the tree for more than a month. Like Acacia and Honey Locust, it is of the pea family (Fabaceae) and as Acacia does, it bears fruit that is actually a legume. It grows 20 to 40 feet high and creates luscious shade. Native to Madagascar, it is hardy in frost-free regions.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 9b to 12
    • Sun Exposure: Full Sun
    • Soil Needs: Well-drained clay, loamy, or sand
    • Color Varieties: Scarlet, orange, yellow