The Q&A Archives: How Slow Is 'Slow Growing'?

Question: Growth rate is listed as either slow, moderate, or fast. How does that translate into inches or feet for trees and for shrubs? Is the growth rate going to be constant or will it change as the plant matures?

Answer: A plant's growth rate will be influenced by the amount of sun, water and fertilizer a plant receives, but for the most part, it is governed by a plant's genetic code. A plant's growth rate can vary enormously from just a few inches to a couple of feet a season.

New growth can also be affected--and to a large extent manipulated--by several things, many of which gardeners can control. If you have plants that require a rich humus soil, for example, but the soil in your garden is of just average quality, the plants may survive but not flourish.

In the nursery trade, maximum growth rate is defined as follows:
Slow (12) = 1 to 12 inches per year
Slow to Moderate (12-24) = 12 to 24 inches per year
Moderate (24) = 24 inches per year
Moderate to Fast (24-36) = 24 to 36 inches per year
Fast (36) = 36 inches per year
Very Fast (>37) = over 36 inches per year

Some plants grow fast in their youth, then grow more slowly as they reach maturity. Others grow slowly as juveniles and then increase their rate of growth. There really are no absolutes in terms of plant growth rate because there are so many variables. Hope this sheds some light on the question!

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