The Q&A Archives: Fast Growing Tree

Question: What fast growing shade tree would you recommend for a front yard off Lake Michigan where the winds are often strong (Zone 5). This tree would be replacing a White Oak that died from Oak Wilt. There is a shade garden underneath the Oak with Hydrangea, Astilbe, Azalea, Hosta, & Viburnum. I don't want to loose these plants to the hot summer sun. Do you also have any ideas for temporary shade while I wait for the new tree to grow and establish itself? Thanks for your help!

Answer: Some trees to consider include:
"Lakee Flake" Canoe Birch ? Betula papyrifera, a native paper birch with pure white bark. Since every species of birch behaves differently under cultivation, we are hesitant to call this strain borer free since we have only tested this plant for 15 years. The pure clean white bark of this form is worth trying to grow even within the limits imposed by this insect. This strain was started from a tree growing in a wetland near Saginaw, Michigan. The original tree is now over 50 ft high and in excellent health. One of the seedlings from this tree developed snow-white bark at an early age. When this plant started to seed we began propagation. This species does best in acidic moist soil preferably not in polluted areas. Fast growing even in dry soils, trees grow 2-3 ft per year under good conditions.

Niobe Weeping Willow ? Salix alba "Tristis"; Very fast growing weeping willow well known for its graceful pendulous habit in parks and waterways throughout the U.S. Extremely fast growing 5-6 ft. in a year. Avoid planting near the septic field. The tree can really tap into this source of fertilizer. Because of its long life and broad spreading habit plant in an area with lots of room.

Prairie Cascade Willow ? Salix pentaphyllum 'Prairie Cascade'; A fast growing, trademarked hybrid willow from Morden Research Station in Manitoba. A smaller
form of willow, Prairie Cascade has golden-yellow stems and glossy leaves and is more disease and insect resistant. Its smaller size (35-45') makes it a good choice for those of us who want a weeping willow, but have smaller yards with less space.
Average growth rate 3 ft. per year.

Prairie Sky" Poplar ? Populus x Canadensis; Narrow upright form with a spread of 8 ft. at maturity. Vigorous fast growing hybrid poplar resistant to disease and completely winter hardy in the northern Great Plains. Can grow 4-5 ft. in a single year. Developed by Morden Research Station in Manitoba. A much improved selection compared to Lombardy. An excellent selection for windbreak and screens.

Temporary shade might be a bit of a challenge. You might try growing annual vines on a trellis:
Black Eyed Susan Vine:Unlike many climbing vines, this one isn't invasive so it can be incorporated into existing gardens without fear of crowding out existing plants. It's a great choice for hanging baskets and window boxes. Height: 5' to 10' trailing vine.

Cardinal Climber Vine:The deep red flowers with white or yellow throats are sure to draw attention to your trellises, fences and poles. Height: 6' to 20' vine

Cypress Vine:This vine can add a tropical texture to your landscape with its interesting foliage and mix of bright red, pink and white flowers. With the right conditions, it grows to 20 feet. Height: 8' to 10' vine

Hyacinth Bean Vine:This striking vine will have your visitors asking if it's real! The flowers are followed by velvety purple bean pods. Height: 6' - 20' vine

Mina Lobata:'Firecracker Vine' or 'Exotic Love,' this unusual, exciting, interesting annual vine has up to 12 beautiful 2" tubular flowers on each spike. Performs well on trellises and in hanging baskets. Height: 6' to 10' vine

Moonflower:Plant this fast-growing vine on a porch, near an entrance, or under a window where you can enjoy the evening performance and heady fragrance. The flowers bloom only at night, and unfold in 2-3 minutes, and event worth waiting for! Height: 10' to 20' vine

Morning Glories: In the summer, flowers open in the morning, and in the fall they stay open all day. Morning glories are grown as a groundcover in difficult areas. Height: 8' - 10' vine

Sweet Peas: Sweet peas are shorter than most of the other annual vines mentioned here, but their outstanding fragrance make them worthwhile when height isn't important. They make a wonderful cut flower. Height: 3' to 5' vine

Or Scarlet Runner Beans.

Best wishes with your garden!

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