5 Fast Growing Trees
Finding the Perfect Tree for Your Landscape
We all love trees, and we can spend so much time choosing just the right ones to fit just right into our outdoor spaces. They have beautiful looks, scents, and can lower the temperature in your home by providing cover. But the issue when choosing trees for your home lot is that unless you want to pay to have mature trees installed, the wait from spindly, young tree to the full grown crown of leaves that provides shade, respite, and visual appeal can often take quite a number of years to develop. The general rule is that the longer a tree takes to grow, the sturdier it will be and the longer it will last. And while this piece of wisdom is accurate, there are also moderately fast growing trees that will still fit the bill. Most of California falls within the USDA zones 9-10, with some lower zones along the Sierras and northern border. (You can see more about USDA zones here) While this does limit the trees that are available to us, there are still some incredible trees that love the California climate, and will do well in your back yard.
Five Great Fast Growing Trees for the California Climate
The Chitalpa is a moderately fast growing tree, which ultimately reaches heights of up to thirty feet. The branches hang in a willowy fashion, and provide fragrant pink blooms throughout the Summer months. What is particularly nice about this tree is that besides flourishing in the California climate, once mature it requires low levels of water, making it a great option for xeriscape landscape designs.
Sweet Bay Magnolia
This is another flowering tree, and the deep white flowers give off a pleasant lemon scent. It will continuously flower during the Spring, and to a lesser extent during the Summer. This is an evergreen tree, even when it is not blooming season, and the leaves are green on top and a silvery blue underside - causing a “shimmery” effect when the wind blows through the leaves. Reaching heights of thirty-five feet, the Sweet Bay Magnolia grows well in the California climate.
Angel Red Pomegranate
Reaching heights of twelve feet, the Angel Red may be a good choice If you are looking for a tree that is not quite as tall as some of the previously mentioned. The Angel Red has orange and red blossoms in early Spring and late Summer, and then a fruit that is considered to be one of the best varieties of all pomegranate trees. Come Fall, you can pick fruit that is delicious, very juicy, with soft seeds that are easy to eat along with the pulp - not all pomegranates can make that claim!
Personally I love the look of this tree. One of the faster growing trees (up to five feet per year) the Muskogee Crape can reach heights of twenty-five feet. This tree can produce heady-scented purple blooms for over four months, and in the fall will turn lovely reds and oranges. The Muskogee is great for the California climate, even in areas of high humidity because it is resistant to mildew.
Wax Myrtle (Bayberry)
If you often have issues with deer using your garden as a salad bar, then the Wax Myrtle’s deer resistant properties may work for you. These are great shade trees as well, growing up to 20 feet high with crowns around the same width, and have a subtle aroma year-round. They are also evergreen, so you can enjoy your tree year round, with small yellow blooms that you can see in the Spring. Not only does the Wax Myrtle thrive in the California climate, but it is also one of the lower maintenance trees you can have.
5 Trees You May Want to Avoid in California
The following trees have some great qualities, but the climate in most parts of California do not fit the USDA zone requirements. While you will may still see some of these trees locally, they will need more care and attention than plants that prefer the climate in our area.
Northern Red Oak
These are usually great trees when you are looking for a quicker growing tree that will give ample shade. In California (and Oregon!) Northern Red Oak is a poor choice. Northern Red Oaks are susceptible to sudden oak death disease - if you are interested, you can read more through the California Oak Mortality Task Force (http://www.suddenoakdeath.org/). I would strongly suggest choosing a tree other than the Northern Red Oak, as diseased trees are not just an issue for the homeowner, but neighbors as well.
These trees grow beautifully and tall with pink flowers during the Spring. But, most of California has temperatures that do not work well for this species. If you are in Northern California, or the foothills and further, then the Tulip Tree may be an option.
This tree is often chosen for the stunning autumnal colors that it produces. Much like the Tulip Tree, local weather conditions will not treat this Maple well unless you are in the mid-to-high foothills or the very northern part of California.
With heights of up to ninety feet, it is easy understand the appeal of the Redwood Dawn. This tree shows yellow and orange colors during the fall, is adaptable to many types of soil, and is one of the easier mature trees to transplant. But in California, Redwood Dawns will have difficulty outside of the Sierras and northern areas near the Oregon border.
At maturity, the Sargent Cherry can reach heights and widths of thirty feet, but it is best known for the beautiful pink blossoms it produces. It would do well as a centerpiece to your landscape, but much like the previous trees, growing outside of the foothills and northern part of the state poses some difficulty.
So while there are some trees that you may want to avoid, as you can see there are also some amazing options that not only work by thrive in the California climate. Whether you are looking for something that flowers, is evergreen, creates privacy, provides fruit, and so on, there are many varieties that will look beautiful in your outdoor space.
We would love to hear from you - what is your favorite tree? Do you have any tips from when you were looking for your own garden?