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There are many wonderful options you have for your garden to not only add rich colours but a variety of shapes, sizes, and layers to create an overall aesthetically pleasing design. To that end, whether you need something to grow as a shrub border, create a hedge, spread as ground cover, or catch the eye effectively as a specimen plant there are evergreen shrubs that are fast-growing, perfectly suited to the task at hand.
Below is a list of the top 10 fast-growing evergreen shrubs that you can use for a variety of fashions in your garden, perfect for many different themes and designs ranging from rock gardens to coastal gardens. Each of the items on this list are evergreen shrubs that are fast-growing which means they will provide colour all year round and they will spread to fill the existing space rapidly so you won’t have to wait long for a shrub to manifest in the form of a full privacy screen or hedge around the perimeter of your garden. Moreover, the majority of the options on this list have such flexibility that they will grow in almost any soil conditions or pH levels.
Euphorbia characias subsp. Wulfenii (Mediterranian Spurge)
Known as the spurge, this is an upright plant that grows with a woody base and green stems. It reaches up to a meter in height and spread and is a little unusual compared to most other shrubs. The leaves are blue-green in shade arranged in spirals along the stems each of which is topped by greenish-yellow flowers that have stunning incandescence.
It will grow effectively in well-drained soil as long as it gets full sun or partial shade. It will perform best in Mediterranean-type climates as it does originate in the Balkans and Turkey however as long as it’s well-drained soil and you provide moisture during heat waves, it will be just fine. It does require some maintenance in so far as the plants tend to decline after they flower in the springtime at which point you can cut off the flower stems to make room for new growth. When doing this however be cognizant of the fact that you need to wear gloves at all times because broken stems produce a milky white sap that can irritate the skin.
Photinia x fraseri ‘Red Robin’
This broadleaf evergreen gets its nickname Red Robin because of the dramatic red new growth. This is a large, hybrid shrub that can reach up to five meters tall and wide which makes it great for hedges or specimen plants. The dark green leaves are serrated and new growth starts out a copper red colour as pictured above. These red leaves eventually change to the dark green and during the springtime, you can enjoy small white flowers that bloom from the end of April throughout the season.
You don’t have to allow the flowers to grow because some argue they have an unpleasant aroma in which case you can prune come springtime to stimulate more of the red leaf growth rather than the flowers. However, if you allow the flowers you will eventually get red fruit from Spring through winter. Once it is established like many of these fast-growing evergreens it’s very drought tolerant, showy, and effective as a stunning piece to have in the winter.
Prunus lusitanica (Portugal laurel)
The stunning Mediterranean plant, native to Portugal is a large evergreen shrub that brings with it dark brown bark, leathery leaves that span up to 12cm, and rich rhubarb shaded stem. But that’s not all. At the end of spring and the beginning of summer, you will find fragrant, small white flowers that lead to red cherries taking on a dark purple shade by the end of autumn.
These are not cherries that people can eat but birds will be drawn to your plant and strip the tree of any cherries immediately. This is a perfect plant for windbreaks, privacy screens, or hedges as it will reach up to 7.5 meters in height and 4.5 meters in spread and even larger if left for many years.
It grows in moist, well-drained soil and thrives on chalky soil as well. It’s quite tolerant of heat, wind, drought, and son and in fact requires full sun or partial shade. Moreover, it is very deer resistant so if you have trouble with deer in your area this is the perfect specimen plant, shrub border, or hedge.
Escallonia Apple Blossom
The apple blossom is a compact shrub that has dark green leaves growing along racemes. The Chalice shape it takes on lead way to pink and white flowers that are quite tiny, about 12 mm in which each. When grown it will produce green foliage all year round with the white and pink flowers come summer. It’s very bushy and can reach up to 2.5 meters in height and spread at full maturity. Like most fast-growing shrubs, this will tolerate a wide range of environments.
Most evergreen shrubs that are fast-growing are tolerant of all manner of soil as long as it’s well-drained and moist as well as any range of pH and this is no exception. You can plant it in loam, chalk, clay, or sand soil without having to make modifications. It does require full sun or partial shade and should be sheltered from drying wind.
Choisya Ternata (Mexican Orange Blossom)
Commonly referred to as the Mexican orange, this broadleaf evergreen is native to Mexico and the name and it produces white blossoms that are sure to draw the eye. This plant is compact and round it in its shape. It will spend almost as large as 3 meters tall and wide if left to grow on its own.
The green leaves are not only glossy and beautiful but their aromatic spanning approximately 10 cm each. This leads way too small, star-shaped white flowers which are equally fragrant and can span about 5cm wide. With this plant, you can deadhead and enjoy blooms throughout the summer. From each bloom, you can get fruit perfect for Attracting birds to your garden.
Both crushed leaves and flowers take on a citric fragrance which contributes to its name. It is perfect as a shrub border, a hedge, or a specimen plant and is very tolerant of diseases and insects. If you have incredibly cold winter temperatures try to grow it in a place that’s protected from the wind. It does best if it gets morning sunlight and afternoon shade.
This is a very bold shrub that is one to keep as a hedge, border plant, or specimen plant. In gardens where you might otherwise lack colour especially during the winter, this plant adds a beautiful vibrance by way of the berries. The plant grows in an upright fashion so it adds height to your garden and displays rich red berries in large clusters which appear later in the season and stay in place throughout the winter.
It grows in such a dense cluster that it’s very effective as a windbreak and it has thorny stems on it so using it as a screen or a hedge to prevent entry will work quite well once it’s established. No matter where you grow it you can enjoy the Evergreen colour of the leaves throughout the year and in the springtime sit back as you admire the small, white flowers that eventually produce the delightful berries. The highly ornamental berries are what it is known for however it can be cropped into a topiary or grown in containers if you so choose. It requires very little water once it gets established but it does need full sun. It grows very fast and can reach up to 3 meters tall and almost three meters wide and its natural form if left unchecked. That said it can be grown up against a wall but it can also be used as a free-standing plant.
Mahonia Japonica (Japanese Mahonia)
This plant gets its name from the leaves which grow in pairs up long stems. These leaves are green with hints of purple and red throughout the season and each has spikes along the perimeter. The leaves are spiny and leathery.
However, the shrub itself grows in an upright fashion and the foliage is certainly distinct. In addition to the green foliage, there are fragrant yellow flowers that draw the eye effectively and these yellow flowers in very early spring pave the way for powder blue, clusters of grape-like fruit. The fruit hangs in groups just like grapes and the light, powder blue colour is well suited to an exotic theme. It is perfect for a fast-growing evergreen shrub near rocks or waterfalls and can be pruned to fit into otherwise empty spaces.
It is by design pest and disease resistant and very bird-friendly so it will certainly attract many a bird once the ornamental berries appear. It offers year-round interest and only requires partial sun, and once it’s established there’s very little water required. The spiky edges of the leaves make it a wonderful fast-growing evergreen shrub that abuts the perimeter of your garden because it will act as a successful deterrent.
This hybrid broadleaf evergreen is easily grown in well-drained soil with partial sun or full shade. It is tolerant of shade but it does best with full sun. The lack of sunlight will deter flowers but the plant itself will be sustained. This is a very fast growing shrub and just like other shrubs on this list, it is incredibly tolerant of a wide variety of soils even soil that is otherwise considered poor and infertile. As long as you don’t have incredibly wet soil or incredibly dry soil it will do just fine.
This bushy, rounded shrub can reach up to 3 meters tall and wide. The leaves are a dense Evergreen shade that stays that way throughout the winter tipped with silver scales. As the leaves get older the dark green colour starts to turn and the silver-grey colour beneath becomes more apparent. There are flowers that appear between October and November taking on a creamy white shade. The flowers are small but very fragrant and they appear at a time of the season when most other flowers do not which can add beautiful options and fragrances to your garden throughout the autumn and winter when other plants are dormant. Moreover, these flowers lead way to reddish brown fruits which are edible intend to ripen come springtime.
Prunus rotundifolia (Cherry Laurel)
This evergreen is not only effective as a fast-growing evergreen shrub but can be pruned into a hedge which is it actually most commonly used for, this is possible the fasting growing shrub we have seen. It is the best functioning when it’s trimmed into a screen but you can avoid pruning and allow it to cultivate its natural, bushy or shape. It assumes an upright form as it grows rather than a flat mat form as so many of the ground cover plants do. This can add more shape to your garden especially if you want different levels or layers to draw the eye.
It is very fast growing and will grow approximately 60cm each year. In fact, if you leave it on kept it will reach upwards of six meters tall but you can prune it to whatever height you prefer which makes it very flexible in terms of creating dense fast growing evergreen shrubs. Unlike other fast-growing shrubs, this is something you can plant and have spread, cut to varying heights as you see fit in different parts of your garden. The leaves take on a slightly rounded shape and remain rich and green all year round.
Ceanothus skylark (California lilac)
Colloquially known as the California lilac, this dense and compact evergreen shrub is known not just for its ability to spread effectively as a specimen plant but because of the clusters of cerulean blue flowers that show up in the springtime and remain throughout summer.
The leaves are and they are produced as fine-toothed leaves along branches that stick out to produce the richly blue flowers. When it is allowed to thrive on its own it will create a dome shape. This is a great ground cover or hedge for areas that are heavily frequented by deer because deer typically ignore it. An upside is that it attracts bees, birds, and butterflies very effectively so you can bring in all of the wildlife you prefer without worrying that the deer will eat all the flowers.
This particular variety is very tolerant of a wide range of climates so you can use it as ground cover or hedges if you have a coastal garden or an interior garden. Moreover, it performs quite well in all manner of soil type so you don’t have to make amendments in order to allow this plant to grow effectively and spread over any areas that are otherwise missing a floriferous display. At its full maturity, it can grow up to 180cm (6ft) tall. It prefers well-drained soil and full sun and once it’s established you will not have to water even in the summertime because the plant becomes quite drought-tolerant.
Euonymus Emerald Gaiety
This evergreen is known as a winter creeper. It is actually a vine even though most people don’t refer to it as such. This means it will not only grow quickly but it can be trained effectively to spread up and over any structures, you want to cover in your garden. On average it creates a bush shape that is about 1 meter in height and 1.3 meter in spread. This shape can be pruned if necessary or trained as mentioned.
The leaves are rich hunter green and they take on white edging along the perimeter of each. When it grows it will grow very quickly in an upright fashion which is what allows you to more easily trained the vines to go around something. this particular plant is incredibly effective in the form of an ornamental hedge and more effective as ground cover or as a hedge, even a specimen plant because it will spread out new branches at a moderate pace and fill in any spaces in your garden.
Hypericum Hidcote (St John’s Wort)
This is a great plant for attracting Wildlife to your garden and is more commonly known as St John’s Wort. The flowers produced have a great deal of pollen and nectar so they will bring ample numbers of bees to your garden, something to be cognizant of if you are looking to add more bees or if you want to avoid bees. St John’s Wort produces gold and yellow flowers that are stunning to the eye and about 5cm in diameter.
If you have an area where you want something to grow quickly, this plant will cultivate dense shrubs effectively in dappled shade or partial shade. It is best grown in areas where it gets protection against heavy wind so under a tree or in between other shrubs or up against a wall is perfect. If it is starting to outgrow the space you have available you can prune between September and November. You want to prune after the flowers have run their course. At full maturity, this plant will span about 1.5 meters in both height and spread but of course, you can prune it regularly to keep the shape that you want. This is a very effective plant to consider if you have anything but ideal soil because it is quite tolerant of a wide range of soil types and pH levels.
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