The Q&A Archives: Fast growing deciduous shrub

Question: Hi,

I have two small terraces that I need a screen from my neighbors. I need a 5 or 6 foot spread and a 8-10 foot height. I'd like something that is pretty tolerant of sandy soil and flexible watering conditions/somewhat drought tolerant if possible. I'm interested in something that will grow fast to this size and die back or drop leaves in the winter so I get light through a nearby window in the dreary months of our zone 5 Seattle climate. Are there any flowering trees/shrubs/bushes that fit what I'm looking for? Thanks so much for your help!

Answer: Have you considered the Butterfly Bush? Buddleia davidii or butterfly bush is highly valued for its long purple blossoms that vary from 6 to 30" in length. It makes a fine addition to the shrub or perennial border. Attracts butterflies in profusion and is wonderful for cut flower use. Mature size is 8-10 feet.

Or, you may prefer Calycanthus floridus - Carolina allspice is a dense, rounded deciduous shrub with a suckering habit which grows 6-9' (less frequently to 12') tall with an equal or slightly greater spread.

Features very fragrant, brown to reddish-brown flowers (2" across) which bloom at the ends of short branch lets in May. Flowers give way to brownish, urn-shaped fruits (seed capsules) which mature in fall and persist throughout the winter. Lustrous, dark green (pale beneath), ovate to elliptic leaves to 6" long turn golden yellow in fall.

Leaves are aromatic when bruised. Also commonly called sweet shrub and strawberry bush in reference to the fragrant blooms which have been described as combining hints of pineapple, strawberry and banana.

Sweet scented purple-brown flowers; resistant to disease and insect damage; makes excellent border shrub; adapts to many soil types.

Either of these suggestions would make terrific additions to almost any landscape.

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