In Arizona there are many USDA hardiness zones to consider when planting a garden or landscape. Trees, shrubs and plants need to be hardy from zones 5 through 10 to be hardy in the entire state region. Fast-growing trees can get established quickly in the garden and provide a stable growing environment with less time invested. Trees that grow quickly in Arizona include some gardening favorites.
The southern catalpa or Catawba (Catalpa bignonioides) is from the bignonia family of plants and is a drought-tolerant, fast-growing tree that attracts songbirds. It gets 25 to 50 feet tall with heart-shaped 8 inch long leaves and bell-like 2 inch white flowers. Plant a southern catalpa in full sun to partial shade in moist well drained soil. It will adapt if the soil isn’t moist. Propagate via seed or under-tree seedlings in USDA hardiness zones of 6 through 10 (northernmost Arizona may have issues growing).
The honeylocust or thornless honeylocust (Gleditsia triacanthos) is from the bean family of plants and is a drought-tolerant fast growing shrub-like tree. It gets 40 to 80 feet high and 20 to 30 feet wide on average. Leaves are 7 to 8 inches long and there are summertime yellow-green flowers that are fragrant. Plant a honeylocust in any soil in full sun. Propagate via seed, budding or grafting in USDA hardiness zones of 4 to 9 (southernmost Arizona may have problems growing).
The higan cherry or rosebud cherry (Prunus subhirtella) is from the rose family of plants and is a fast-growing tree. Deciduous leaves are lance-like and 1 to 3 inches long. Flowers are pink, in spring, and in clusters. The entire tree grows 20 to 30 feet tall. Plant a higan cherry in full sun in well drained soil. Propagate via cuttings or grafting in USDA hardiness zones of 5 through 8 (southern Arizona will have problems).
The water oak or spotted oak (Quercus nigra) is from the beech family of plants and is a fast growing wetland tree. It averages a height of 50 to 80 feet with small leaves, smooth bark and acorns. Plant a water oak in full sun in moist well drained soils. Propagate via acorns in USDA hardiness zones of 7 through 10 (north Arizona may have difficulty).
The Chinese elm or lacebark elm (Ulmus parvifolia) is from the elm family of plants and is a fast growing tree with good fall foliage. It gets 40 to 50 feet tall with flaking bark and 2 inch long elliptic leaves. Plant a Chinese elm in any soil with full sun or partial shade conditions. Propagate via seed, grafting or cuttings in USDA hardiness zones of 5 through 9 (very southern Arizona may have problems).