Horticulture Magazine

21 Fast-Growing Shrubs For Gardens

building with vines surrounded with gorgeous pink & white Oleander shrubs

Shrubs may be one of the most versatile plants you can include in your garden.

With thousands of varieties, they can emphasise structure and create texture and bursts of colour.

If you are on the hunt for fast-growing shrubs, then chances are you are looking to quickly plug a gap, wishing to create more privacy, or perhaps you are just feeling impatient.

tall shrubs in a perennial border

Aside from the charming aesthetic they can bring to your garden, the humble shrub can indeed provide many valuable functions.

From creating a windbreak or a screen, to providing you with a formal or informal hedge – they really are the unsung heroes of our gardens.

Some shrubs can take quite a while to establish, so if you have a need for speed, this guide is for you.

We’ve put together a list of fast-growing shrubs as well as ways in which you can use them to your advantage.

1) Green Giant

a large, fully grown thuja green giant with person stood alongside
  • BOTANICAL NAME: THUJA
  • HARDINESS RATING: H6
  • PREFERRED ASPECT: ANY
  • TYPICAL GROWTH PER YEAR: 60CM
  • YEARS TO EVENTUAL SIZE: 15-20 YEARS
  • MAX HEIGHT: 10M+
  • MAX WIDTH: 6-8M

While it might be typically considered a tree rather than a shrub (especially if allowed to grow unchecked, as above) it can be easily shaped and will seemingly grow at the speed of light!

There are many types of Thuja, but when it comes to a fast-growing type, look no further than the Green Giant. 

Growing best in rich, well-drained soil and with full sun exposure, this tall, strong evergreen will quickly create the perfect screen for privacy as well as being an excellent candidate for hedges.

2) Photinia

The green and red leaves and white flowers of a Photinia shrub
  • BOTANICAL NAME: Photinia × fraseri ‘Red Robin’
  • HARDINESS RATING: H5
  • PREFERRED ASPECT: ANY
  • TYPICAL GROWTH PER YEAR: 40CM
  • YEARS TO EVENTUAL SIZE: 10 YEARS
  • MAX HEIGHT: 4M
  • MAX WIDTH: 2.5M
  • AGM RECIPIENT

Growing up to five metres in height, this popular plant grows quickly, producing an excellent privacy screen for your garden.

Be aware that this shrub likes to spread but with regular pruning it is easily contained.

If you do find yourself with an overgrown plant then it will respond to hard pruning.

Also known as ‘Red Robin’, this evergreen would also work very well for hedging and its new growth is a beautiful, bright red in springtime. 

The Photinia is easy to grow and has no strong preferences when it comes to soil.

3) Hydrangea

white and pink flowering Hydrangea paniculata shrub
  • BOTANICAL NAME: Hydrangea paniculata
  • VIGOROUS VARIETIES: LIMELIGHT
  • HARDINESS RATING: H5
  • PREFERRED ASPECT: FULL SUN
  • TYPICAL GROWTH PER YEAR: 40CM
  • YEARS TO EVENTUAL SIZE: 5-8 YEARS
  • MAX HEIGHT: 2.5M+
  • MAX WIDTH: 2M
  • AGM RECIPIENT

Found in gardens all across the country, this lavish, flowering shrub is renowned for its stunning globes which bloom in an array of colours from mid to late summer.

There are many different types of Hydrangeas and they are super easy to grow and establish themselves quickly.

This shrub usually flowers in shades of pink, purple and blue and with some plants you can actually manipulate the colour by changing the pH levels in the soil.

These gorgeous showstoppers also vary greatly in size with some growing no more than three feet, whilst others can grow up to fifteen and span a width of twelve.

Ideally, you want to plant them in autumn in a sheltered spot that gets bright morning sunlight but plenty of shade in the afternoon.

4) Butterfly Bush

Buddleja davidii Nanho Purple 'Monum' in a rural garden
  • BOTANICAL NAME: Buddleja davidii
  • VIGOROUS VARIETIES: Nanho Purple (Pictured)
  • HARDINESS RATING: H6
  • PREFERRED ASPECT: FULL SUN
  • TYPICAL GROWTH PER YEAR: 65CM
  • YEARS TO EVENTUAL SIZE: 3-4 YEARS
  • MAX HEIGHT: 2.5M
  • MAX WIDTH: 1.5M
  • AGM RECIPIENT

Commonly known as the ‘Butterfly Bush’, this gorgeous shrub produces masses of blossoms that bloom from summer to autumn. 

Its flowers come in many different shades but if you’ve chosen it to attract butterflies then they seem to prefer the species that blooms in mauve.

Buddleias require full sunlight and well-drained soil and can grow to around ten feet tall.

They tend to respond well to being cut back hard in spring as this encourages growth which will produce more flowers.

5) Portuguese Laurel

multiple round Portuguese Laurel shrubs next to a house
  • BOTANICAL NAME: Prunus lusitanica
  • HARDINESS RATING: H5
  • PREFERRED ASPECT: ANY
  • TYPICAL GROWTH PER YEAR: 50CM
  • YEARS TO EVENTUAL SIZE: 20+ YEARS
  • MAX HEIGHT: 10M+
  • MAX WIDTH: 6-8M
  • AGM RECIPIENT

This speedy evergreen is the perfect shrub to create an elegant hedge for your garden.

Bearing glossy dark-green leaves which grow from striking, red stems, it also produces sweet-smelling, white blossom in the summertime, as well as small red berries making it very attractive to both butterflies and birds.

This resilient shrub can grow up to five meters in height but is easily maintained and shaped, only requiring one trim a year in summer.

It is best grown in a sheltered spot in sunlight or partly in shade.

6) Apple Blossom

wall of escallonia apple blossom
  • BOTANICAL NAME: ESCALLONIA
  • HARDINESS RATING: H4
  • PREFERRED ASPECT: ANY
  • TYPICAL GROWTH PER YEAR: 30-40CM
  • YEARS TO EVENTUAL SIZE: 5-8 YEARS
  • MAX HEIGHT: 2.5M
  • MAX WIDTH: 1.5M
  • AGM RECIPIENT

This splendid shrub is also an evergreen with thick, leathery green leaves, with five-petalled flowers that bloom in summer and early autumn in shades of white, pink or red.

Not only are they ideal for hedging but they are also adept at growing in tricky garden spots, tolerate a wide range of soil types and can also provide an excellent windbreak.

Preferring to grow in full sunlight the Apple Blossom can also be grown in pots and, likewise, will adapt well to growing on a rockery.

7) Rambler Rose

albertine rambling rose with pink flowers
  • BOTANICAL NAME: ROSA
  • VIGOROUS VARIETIES: ALBERTINE
  • HARDINESS RATING: H6
  • PREFERRED ASPECT: FULL SUN
  • TYPICAL GROWTH PER YEAR: 60-100CM
  • YEARS TO EVENTUAL SIZE: 6-8 YEARS
  • MAX HEIGHT: 6-8M
  • MAX WIDTH: 2-3M
  • AGM RECIPIENT

This rampantly growing shrub is perfect for clothing an unsightly wall or draping over an archway.

Hopelessly romantic, rambling roses can spread to up to six meters so do make sure you have ample space for them.

They usually produce an abundance of flowers in late spring or early summer, blooming for several weeks.

Ramblers are healthy shrubs, resistant to disease, require minimal care and will tolerate most soils and partial shade.

8) Forsythia

bright yellow Forsythia flowers blooming in spring
  • HARDINESS RATING: H5
  • PREFERRED ASPECT: ANY
  • TYPICAL GROWTH PER YEAR: 50CM
  • YEARS TO EVENTUAL SIZE: 4-5 YEARS
  • MAX HEIGHT: 2.5M
  • MAX WIDTH: 2.5M
  • AGM RECIPIENT

Perfect for hedging and sloped or informal gardens, Forsythia shrubs can add a dramatic flair to any garden.

Easily recognisable by their bright, yellow flowers that bloom in early spring, this plant is easy to take care of and maintain.

Enjoying full sunlight, this shrub should be planted where it is likely to receive around six hours of sun in well-drained soil.

9) Tree Mallow ‘Rosea’

Malva × clementii rosea with pink and red blooms
  • BOTANICAL NAME: Malva × clementii
  • VIGOROUS VARIETIES: ROSEA (PICTURED)
  • HARDINESS RATING: H5
  • PREFERRED ASPECT: FULL SUN
  • TYPICAL GROWTH PER YEAR: 50CM
  • YEARS TO EVENTUAL SIZE: 3-5 YEARS
  • MAX HEIGHT: 2M
  • MAX WIDTH: 1M
  • AGM RECIPIENT

Lavatera, or ‘Tree Mallow’, are perfect for adding beautiful colour to your garden.

From mid-summer, they boast numerous large flowers in shades of pink, white and purple, which can be prolonged by frequent dead-heading.

This shrub is straightforward to grow and care for and can grow to up to two meters, so while it can be a border plant, you will need to provide it with plenty of space.

10) Fuchsia

a large, spreading fuchsia shrub in a country garden with a house in the background
  • VIGOROUS VARIETIES: WHARFEDALE; MARGARET
  • HARDINESS RATING: H4
  • PREFERRED ASPECT: ANY; SHELTERED
  • TYPICAL GROWTH PER YEAR: 30-40CM
  • YEARS TO EVENTUAL SIZE: 2-3 YEARS
  • MAX HEIGHT: 1-2M
  • MAX WIDTH: 0.5M
  • AGM RECIPIENT

11) Rhododendron

rhododendron with extensive pink blooms
  • VIGOROUS VARIETIES: LAVENDER GIRL
  • HARDINESS RATING: H6
  • PREFERRED ASPECT: PART SHADE; SHELTERED
  • TYPICAL GROWTH PER YEAR: 55-60CM
  • YEARS TO EVENTUAL SIZE: 3-4 YEARS
  • MAX HEIGHT: 2.5M
  • MAX WIDTH: 1.5M
  • AGM RECIPIENT

12) Gooseberry

a gooseberry shrub with aggressive growth over a garden wall
  • BOTANICAL NAME: Ribes uva-crispa
  • VIGOROUS VARIETIES: INVICTA
  • HARDINESS RATING: H6
  • PREFERRED ASPECT: ANY; SHELTERED
  • TYPICAL GROWTH PER YEAR: 40-50CM
  • YEARS TO EVENTUAL SIZE: 3-5 YEARS
  • MAX HEIGHT: 1.5M
  • MAX WIDTH: 1.5M
  • AGM RECIPIENT

13) Rose Of Sharon

vigorous Hibiscus syriacus in an overgrown garden
  • BOTANICAL NAME: Hibiscus syriacus
  • VIGOROUS VARIETIES: Southern Bell; Woodbridge (Pictured)
  • HARDINESS RATING: H4
  • PREFERRED ASPECT: FULL SUN; SHELTERED
  • TYPICAL GROWTH PER YEAR: 50CM
  • YEARS TO EVENTUAL SIZE: 3-5 YEARS
  • MAX HEIGHT: 2.5M
  • MAX WIDTH: 1M
  • AGM RECIPIENT

14) Lilac

tall lilac shrub with pink flowers
  • BOTANICAL NAME: Syringa vulgaris
  • HARDINESS RATING: H6
  • PREFERRED ASPECT: FULL SUN
  • TYPICAL GROWTH PER YEAR: 55CM
  • YEARS TO EVENTUAL SIZE: 10-15 YEARS
  • MAX HEIGHT: 8M
  • MAX WIDTH: 4M

15) Firethorn

large pyracantha hedge with bright orange berries
  • BOTANICAL NAME: PYRACANTHA
  • HARDINESS RATING: H6
  • PREFERRED ASPECT: ANY
  • TYPICAL GROWTH PER YEAR: 30CM
  • YEARS TO EVENTUAL SIZE: 10 YEARS
  • MAX HEIGHT: 2-3M
  • MAX WIDTH: 2-3M
  • AGM RECIPIENT

16) Cotoneaster

cotoneaster with red berries growing over a brick wall
  • HARDINESS RATING: H6
  • PREFERRED ASPECT: ANY
  • TYPICAL GROWTH PER YEAR: 30-40CM
  • YEARS TO EVENTUAL SIZE: 10-12 YEARS
  • MAX HEIGHT: 4M
  • MAX WIDTH: 4M
  • AGM RECIPIENT

17) Viburnum

Viburnum tinus growing in front of a home
  • BOTANICAL NAME: Viburnum tinus
  • HARDINESS RATING: H4
  • PREFERRED ASPECT: ANY; SHELTERED
  • TYPICAL GROWTH PER YEAR: 30-40CM
  • YEARS TO EVENTUAL SIZE: 10-15 YEARS
  • MAX HEIGHT: 3-4M
  • MAX WIDTH: 3-4M

18) Goat Willow

magnified view of white and yellow Salix caprea flowers
  • BOTANICAL NAME: Salix caprea
  • HARDINESS RATING: H6
  • PREFERRED ASPECT: FULL SUN
  • TYPICAL GROWTH PER YEAR: 30CM
  • YEARS TO EVENTUAL SIZE: 20-30 YEARS
  • MAX HEIGHT: 8-12M
  • MAX WIDTH: 4-6M

19) Dogwood

Sibirica dogwood shrub with red branches
  • BOTANICAL NAME: Cornus alba
  • VIGOROUS VARIETIES: SIBIRICA (PICTURED)
  • HARDINESS RATING: H7
  • PREFERRED ASPECT: ANY
  • TYPICAL GROWTH PER YEAR: 30-50CM
  • YEARS TO EVENTUAL SIZE: 5-8 YEARS
  • MAX HEIGHT: 2.5M
  • MAX WIDTH: 2.5M
  • AGM RECIPIENT

20) Mock Orange

large, fast-growing mock orange shrub
  • BOTANICAL NAME: Philadelphus
  • VIGOROUS VARIETIES: Beauclerk
  • HARDINESS RATING: H6
  • PREFERRED ASPECT: ANY
  • TYPICAL GROWTH PER YEAR: 30-50CM
  • YEARS TO EVENTUAL SIZE: 5 YEARS
  • MAX HEIGHT: 2.5M
  • MAX WIDTH: 2.5M
  • AGM RECIPIENT

21) Raspberry

foliage and berries of Rubus idaeus raspberry bush
  • BOTANICAL NAME: Rubus idaeus
  • VIGOROUS VARIETIES: Malling Admiral; Polka
  • HARDINESS RATING: H6
  • PREFERRED ASPECT: FULL SUN; SHELTERED
  • TYPICAL GROWTH PER YEAR: 50CM
  • YEARS TO EVENTUAL SIZE: 3-5 YEARS
  • MAX HEIGHT: 2.5M
  • MAX WIDTH: 0.5M
  • AGM RECIPIENT

Shrubbily Jubbly 

Hopefully this guide has given you plenty of inspiration to get started with shrubs.

Though only a handful of fast-growing shrubs have made our list, there are thousands to choose from – so you’re sure to find the perfect one to fit your needs.

When choosing your shrub, be sure to do your research to help you understand the best conditions in which they will thrive.

Before you know it, your garden will be bursting with life and colour.

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