General gardening topics

Top 12 Fast Growing Shrubs

Last updated on January 26th, 2022

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Fast Growing Shrubs

If you are looking for quick growing plants, then chances are you are trying to create some form of privacy screen, windbreak or informal hedge. Alternatively, you simply want a faster growing shrub to fill in a gap or hide an unsightly view.

It is important to take a few pointers into consideration when deciding what varieties of fast growing bushes to plant. If you want to form a screen or similar, as well as needing year-round colour, then you probably will want to plant evergreen shrubs because deciduous shrubs will drop their leaves and may not provide as much screening in the winter months. However, deciduous shrubs are usually flowering shrubs that will provide lots of flower colour as well as being attractive to bees, butterflies and providing cover for small birds. Some deciduous shrubs such as Cornus provide winter colour with their bright red stems and can grow 2-3ft in 12 months.

Other considerations to think about include, what height you want the screen to be and it is important to bear in mind that faster growing shrubs will probably not stop growing and may need regular pruning. This may be a problem for smaller gardens whilst larger gardens may have room for the eventual heights and spreads and not need pruning.

We have split our top 12 fast growing plants into two groups

  1. Fast growing flowering shrubs (usually deciduous)
  2. Fast growing evergreen shrubs

Fast growing flowering shrubs

1. Butterfly Bush (Buddleia)

fast growing Buddleia davidii ideal for screening

Buddleia davidii and Buddleia alternifolia (which is more of a weeping variety) are both fast-growing shrubs that will grow to around 3 metres (10ft) tall. They are drought tolerant and will grow in most soil types as long as its well-drained. Ideally suited for full sun or partial shade they don’t require pruning, however, a little deadheading will encourage more flowers. They often respond well to pruning back hard in spring as the new growth encourages more flowers. They are ideal for cottage gardens or informal hedging, the flowers attract bees and butterflies and are ideal for wildlife gardens. Buddleia is deciduous but often hold their leaves in the winter.

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2. Forsythia

forsythia fast growing shrub which flower in spring

Forsythia shrub – Image credit:

Another deciduous, medium-sized shrub that grows to around 150-200cm (5-7ft) tall and is ideal for hedging, sloping banks and informal gardens. They also grow well in coastal locations and will grow in most soil types as long as its well-drained. They will thrive in full sun or partial shade, in sheltered or exposed sites and produce masses of yellow tubular flowers profusely before the leaves in early spring. For this reason, they are ideal for adding some spring colour to the garden.

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3. Lavatera (Tree Mallow)

fast growing lavatera bredon springs ideal for screening and informal hedging.

Lavatera also known as Tree Mallow, produces mauve-pink funnel shaped flowers that are around 6cm across in summer. They are great for providing both colour and a screen and grow to around 6ft tall. Best planted in full sun in most well-drained soils, it has been awarded the RHS Award of Garden Merit. Although it is classed as semi-evergreen it often holds its large lobed green leaves throughout the winter once established. Ideal for coastal and informal gardens and perfect for using as a wall side shrub. Height x Spread: 180cm x 120cm.

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4. Callicarpa bodinieri ‘Profusion’

quick growing Callicarpa bodinieri shrub

Also known as Beauty Berry, this good all round shrub adds colour to the garden during autumn and into winter when tiny masses of lilac berries appear that are 4mm across. This is a large shrub that will reach an eventual height of 4 metres (13ft). It is low maintenance as it does not require pruning except for keeping it within a certain size. Grows well in moist, well-drained soil in exposed or sheltered positions in full sun or partial shade.

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5. Philadelphus opulus

philadelphus ideal screening shrub fast growing

Mock orange as it is also known, Philadelphus is a large and fast growing shrub that produces double, round, football-shaped pure white and highly fragrant flowers from around June to July. They prefer fertile, well-drained soil in full sun or partial shade and will grow to around 2.5 metres x 2.5 metres.

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6. Cornus (Dogwood)

Cornus known as dogwoods is renowned for there spectacular winter display / bright stems. Read our growing Cornus guide to learn how to plant, care and pruning.

There are several varieties of Cornus but the cultivars which are fast growing are Cornus alba, C. sericea and C. sanguinea. They are grown for their vibrant winter stem colour. The red-stemmed varieties look particularly striking. They will grow in any soil type and will even grow well in damp conditions where other plants might fail. Ideally, they need pruning back hard every March and will soon be replaced by new growth that forms a dense, leafy shrub followed by the striking stems in winter. Some varieties also have variegated foliage which looks attractive during the summer as well. They will grow in full sun or semi-shade but if in a shady spot it is best to prune back every three years. Grows to approximately 3 metres x 3 metres.

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7. Viburnum carlesii

Viburnum carlesii deciduous fast growing shrub

Viburnum carlesii – source:

Another fast growing shrub that is sometimes known as a ‘Koreanspice shrub’ grows to around 6ft (180cm) tall by a similar width. It is also ideal for smaller gardens as well as larger ones. It has lobed green foliage that is coppery orange when young and it produces red buds which open into the most beautiful and fragrant snowball shaped flowers before the red berries appear in autumn. This deciduous and very hardy shrub is ideal for informal hedges or shrub borders.

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Fast growing evergreen shrubs

8. Pyracantha (Firethorn)

pyracantha fast growing shrub

Pyracantha – Credit:

Pyracantha is the first evergreen shrub on our list and the plant our site is named after. Most varieties are ideal for filling in gaps, forming hedges, training against a wall and nearly every other situation you can probably think of. This thorny shrub, with its glossy green leaves, produces masses of white flowers in May to June followed by the bright berries which can be red, orange or yellow in the Autumn and this, in turn, provides food for birds.  They can grow to 3 metres x 3 metres and grow in most soils as long as it is well-drained.

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9. Mahonia ‘Japonica’

mahonia japonica ideal for screening and autumn winter colour

There are over 100 species of Mahonia but the variety that is the most common and fastest growing is the Mahonia ‘Japonica’. It reaches over 200cm tall (6.6ft) but has a spread of 400cm (13ft) making it ideal for screening. This evergreen shrub has spiky green foliage that turns reddish pink in Autumn and winter which compliments the bright spikes of yellow flowers in the winter months that smother the plant. It is very hardy and will grow in any soil type as long as it is well-drained and they will grow in full sun as well as in woodland areas in partial shade and even shade.

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10. Elaegnus ebbingei

elaeagnus fast growing shrub with evergreen leaves

This fast growing shrub or small tree has wide leathery green leaves and produces small white flowers in Autumn. It grows to around 250cm x 250cm and is ideal for shrub borders as well as formal hedging and screens. It will grow in most soils, including damp but well-drained, and it is drought tolerant so is ideal for dryer parts of the garden as well.

Elaeagnus Ebbingei 3 Litre Plant
  • Package: Plant supplied in a 3ltr (21 cm) Pot
  • Best planted in full or partial sun
  • Large, dense, rounded evergreen shrub with broad, leathery, dark or metallic sea-green leaves
  • Small, fragrant white flowers in autumn
  • Postage is only £9.95 no matter how many plants you order from Norfolk Quality Plants (this excludes Northern Ireland, Isle of Man, Isle of Wight, Scotish Offshore,ect Please contact us for a price for Postage)

11. Photinia × fraseri ‘Red Robin’

photinia red robin is a fast growing shrub

Photinia is a fast-growing dense evergreen shrub that can reach heights of 15ft by 15ft wide and is often grown as hedging or specimen shrub. It has large leathery dark green leaves and produces white flattened flowers but the real eye catcher is the young red foliage that appears in spring.

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12. Ilex Aquifoliaceae

ilex holly evergreen shrub

Ilex – Image Credit:

More commonly known as Common Holly, this spiky evergreen shrub will grow into a small tree or large shrub and produces red berries in autumn. It will grow in most soil types as well as more shady areas of the garden. Although it is relatively slower-growing for the first couple of years and when young, it is a quite fast-growing shrub. If instant speed is essential then it may be best to purchase a more established plant of this variety and these can often be purchased root balled from mail-order nurseries from Autumn and through the winter.

Ilex altaclerensis Golden King, Holly Hardy Tree, 1x in 9cm Pot by Thompson and Morgan (1)
  • ‘Golden King’ is actually a hardy evergreen female variety of Holly
  • Gorgeous juicy berries that will attract wild birds
  • A year round display of crisp green and gold foliage
  • 1x IIex Altaclerensis Golden King in 9cm pot.

The following shrubs are usually associated with planting a hedge but are worth considering if you are looking for a fast growing, evergreen shrub. 

If you are considering planting a hedge, then our fast growing hedging guide might be useful and you can read it here.

  • Leyland Cypress (Lylandii)
  • Green and Golden Privet
  • Prunus laurocerasus (Common Laurel)

Thompson & Morgan do a larger selection of fast growing plants – Click here to view their very large selection.

Last update on 2024-05-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Welcome to my site, my name is John and I have been lucky enough to work in horticultural nurseries for over 15 years in the UK. As the founder and editor as well as researcher, I have a City & Guilds Horticultural Qualifications which I proudly display on our About us page. I now work full time on this website where I review the very best gardening products and tools and write reliable gardening guides. Behind this site is an actual real person who has worked and has experience with the types of products we review as well as years of knowledge on the topics we cover from actual experience. You can reach out to me at

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