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The Best Fast Growing Evergreen Shrubs For Instant Impact and Vibrant Colour

Published on March 21st 2020

Pittosporum crassifolium (Karo)

by LazingBee. All rights reserved

A close up of a flower
Fast-growing evergreen shrubs can be incredibly useful to a gardener.
Autumn is the best time to plant a shrub, and by opting for an evergreen plant, you can inject instant colour into your autumn display.
Fast-growing shrubs are brilliant at providing screening from a busy road or covering up any unsightly features in your garden.
So, if you need a large and vigorous shrub for quick coverage and colour, these plants are the answer to your problems.
Selecting the right plants for your garden can sometimes be a daunting task. So, to help you pick, I've chosen six of the best fast-growing shrubs and will quickly run through the pros and cons.

If it's a flowering shrub you're after, you can find those in the article:
A close up of a flower

The 6 Best Flowering Evergreen Shrubs


1. Griselinia

A Griselinia hedge and metal garden fence
Griselinia littoralis hedge and fence
  • As the climate in the UK gets milder, Griselinia is rapidly becoming a gardeners go-to, quick-growing evergreen.
  • Originally from New Zealand, this shrub grows well in Britain and Ireland, especially on the western side of the British Isles.
  • The shrub isn't fussy about soil types and will tolerate quite wet conditions.
  • Although the flowers aren't very noticeable, the leaves stay a luscious apple green all year round. It will grow at 30 - 40 cms per year, with an ultimate height of about 3 m.
Griselinia Littoralis, 'Variegata'
Griselinia Littoralis, 'Variegata'
  • Griselinia is an excellent choice to grow near the coast as it will put up with strong, salt-laden winds.
  • Easily pruned, Griselinia will quickly grow into an excellent screening evergreen.
  • There are variegated forms, but most gardeners choose them for those apple green leaves.
Where to buy Griselinia:

2. Laurel

A laurel hedge with flowers
Cherry laurel in flower
  • Every gardener knows a good Laurel when they see one. There are several types and the one that most people know is probably the Cherry Laurel. Cherry Laurel is part of the Prunus genus, which also contains Cherry Trees.
  • The Cherry Laurel has large leaves, and for that reason, you should prune it with secateurs. Mechanical hedge cutters can chop across those big leaves, which can look untidy.
  • Laurels are very tolerant of a wide range of soils and will grow on thin, chalky soils.
A neat garden hedge of Portugal laurel
A neat garden hedge of Portugal laurel
  • A tough plant, Laurel, are just as happy in full sun as under the shade of a tree or building. They will grow an ultimate height of about 3 m.
  • Portugal Laurel is gaining in popularity. It has a growth rate of about half that of Cherry Laurel (30 - 40 cms p.a.), so it will take longer to get to the desired height.
Shop for Laurel:

3. Photinia

Pink leaves of Photinia x fraseri Louise
Pink leaves of Photinia x fraseri Louise
  • Photinia is everywhere! But now there are some new forms to consider.
  • I've illustrated this with a silver variegated variety, 'Louise' (pictured above), that still has those trademark red emerging leaves that go green as they age.
  • Gardeners plant Photinia for its stunning colour. More red shoots can be encouraged after the spring flush has faded with a bit of judicious pruning.
A red leaves of Photinia shrubs
_Photinia x fraseri_ 'Red Robin'
  • Photinia can be very hard pruned if necessary and will quickly bounce back.
  • These shrubs will reach an ultimate height of about 3 m.
New shoots after hard pruning
New shoots merge after heavy pruning
  • Some leaf spotting can occur during winter, but new growth will cover spotted leaves come spring.
Where to buy:

4. Pittosporum

Pittosporum tenuifolium 'Variegata'
Pittosporum tenuifolium 'Variegata'
  • There are many varieties and leaf colours of Pittosporum tenuifolium.
  • Unlike many of the above choices, the leaves of Pittosporum are small. For this reason, you can prune them without spoiling the overall effect of the plant.
  • If a Pittosporum gets too big or too tree-like, then it can be cut down to a stump and will grow back as a bushier plant. Pruning such as this should be done in winter.
  • Black in colours and often hidden, the flowers have a honey-like scent that you can't miss on a spring evening.
  • The green Pittosporum will grow in the shade, but those with attractive variegated or coloured leaves are best in full sun.

5. Cotoneasters

Cotoneaster lacteus red berries on a bush
Cotoneaster lacteus red berries
  • Cotoneasters grow fast, but be careful because not all are evergreen.
  • In my experience, the best fast-flowering evergreen varieties to grow are Cotoneaster 'Cornubia', Cotoneasterx watereri, Cotoneaster lacteus and Cotoneaster franchetti.
  • Both Cotoneaster lacteus and Cotoneaster franchetti are excellent choices as a hedge species, all reaching around 2.5 - 3 m.
  • These varieties hang onto their leaves well in all but the most brutal winters. Bonus, they will reward you with insect-friendly spring flowers and very showy winter berries that birds love to feast on.
  • It's hard to think of drawbacks for Cotoneaster, but they sometimes fall victim to an uncommon bacterial disease called fireblight.

6. Firethorns (Pyracantha)

Firethorn Pyracantha Coccinea Fruit
Pyracantha coccinea - The scarlet firethorn
  • Like the Cotoneasters, Pyracantha is excellent for insects when in flower, and the birds will make use of the vividly coloured berries in the winter.
  • As its name implies, Firethorns are thorny. Not only is this an evergreen fast-grower, but it will also deter garden intruders.
  • The spring flowers are always white, but the berry colour can be red, orange or yellow, depending on the variety.
  • Firethorn shrubs can take up a lot of space but can be kept in check by pruning.
  • These shrubs will reach an ultimate height of 2.5 - 3m.
  • Some Pyracantha varieties are prone to scab disease, especially in the wetter, western half of the British Isles.
  • Some varieties have very high resistance levels to scab. Those varieties begin with the name 'Saphyr'.

Explore the full range of evergreen shrubs in the collection:

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