Shrubs are versatile, essential plants for any home garden or landscape. They serve as specimen plants, formal hedges or privacy fences. Some home gardeners use shrubs to define borders. Others use them to frame points of interest, such as placing a fragrant, flowering shrub on either side of the entrance to your house. If you want a plant that will make an instant impact on your landscape, a fast-growing shrub is a good option.
Chinese photinia (Photinia serrulata) can grow as large as 25 feet tall, with a 20-foot spread, according to North Carolina State University. This shrub grows in a neat, mounded shape and can be trained to grow as a hedge or a tree. Chinese photinia is evergreen and blooms in the spring with long, white flowers that have a rather unpleasant odor. More attractive are the bright red pomes, or fruit, which appear from mid-summer to late fall and show brightly against the dark green leaves. The plant grows best in USDA plant hardiness zones 6 through 9, where the winters are mild.
The butterfly bush (Buddleia davidii) is a very fast-growing shrub that is exceptionally attractive and hardy. As its name implies, this plant, with its long (up to 10-inch) panicles of purple flowers, attracts butterflies, other insects and hummingbirds. The flowers have a pleasant scent. This shrub can grow up to 8 feet in one season, according to the University of Connecticut, but the growth is rather leggy and wild. Unfortunately, the rapid rate of growth, hardy nature and ability to spread rapidly has led some states to classify this plant as invasive, including Connecticut. Buddleia davidii grows best in USDA zones 6 and warmer.
Forsythia is one of the earliest-blooming spring shrubs. This hardy, rapidly growing shrub is popular for its sunshine-yellow blooms and ability to grow in almost any type of soil and growing conditions. Forsythia can even tolerate periods of drought, according to North Carolina State University. The size of this shrub can vary by cultivar, but in general they grow around 1 to 2 feet per year and average around 5 feet tall and wide. Forsythias grow best in USDA zones 6 through 8, in full sun or partial shade.
Nellie Stevens Holly
Nellie Stevens holly (Ilex "Nellie R. Stevens") is an excellent choice for a hedge plant. This evergreen, fast-growing holly can grow up to 3 feet per year and will form a dense hedge quickly. If left unpruned, the plant can get as tall as 35 feet, which also makes it a good choice for a privacy screen. It is drought-tolerant and has large, glossy green leaves. Nellie Stevens grows best in USDA zones 6 through 9.