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10 Fast-Growing Trees for Indiana Gardens & Landscapes


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The state of Indiana is largely covered in farmland, with almost two-thirds of the land used for agriculture.

Because of this, many homeowners are on the lookout for fast-growing trees to provide shade for the summertime, shelter for wildlife, privacy, or just for the love of trees. What you choose to plant will depend on where in the state you live.

No matter if you’re situated in the great plains, Till Plains, Lowlands, or Southern Plains, there are numerous fast-growing trees for you to choose from for your garden or landscaping needs.

10 Fast-Growing Trees that Grow Well in Indiana

1. Hackberry (Celtis occidentalis)

Hackberry Tree
Image by Andreas Rockstein via Flickr

The Hackberry is a fast-growing, highly adaptable tree, tough enough to grow in urban environments. It can tolerate salt, pollution, and compacted clay soils. Native to IN, the Hackberry will grow with little to no care or input. It’ll also provide food and habit for numerous species of birds including the cedar waxwing.

The Hackberry grows in a satisfying cylindrical shape and provides good shade for the summer months, with the foliage turning yellow in the autumn. Small flowers emerge at the same time as the leaves and are followed by small edible fruit reminiscent of small berries with a sweet taste.

Hackberries will happily grow in wet or dry sites with poor soils, even though they’re native to rich bottomlands.

Other Common Names: Common Hackberry, American Hackberry, Beaverwood, False Elm, Nettlet Tree, and Northern Hackberry

Growing Zones: 3-9

Average Size at Maturity: 50-75 ft tall and 25-40 ft wide

Flowering Season: Spring

2. ​​Fruitless White Mulberry (Morus alba ‘Fruitless’)

Morus Alba Fruitless Tree
Image via SelecTree

The Fruitless White Mulberry is perfect for parts of your yard where other trees may not grow. Their fast growth rate, attractive foliage, and wide, rounded shape make them perfect as shade trees.

The foliage of mulberry trees can vary greatly, being either deeply lobed, heart-shaped, or anywhere in between. The leaves have a bright green appearance when mature, and turn golden brown when mature.

The fruitless mulberry saves homeowners from having to deal with the mess of the plentiful fallen fruit. However, you can plant a fruiting variety should you wish to do so, as well as many other types of fruit trees for your IN yard. The Fruitless Mulberry will grow in a diverse range of conditions and can tolerate high heat and drought, cold, poor depleted soils as well as wet conditions.

Other Common Names: Fruitless Mulberry

Growing Zones: 4-9

Average Size at Maturity: 30-50 ft tall and 30-40 ft wide

Flowering Season: Late spring or early summer

3. Hybrid Poplar (Populus deltoides x nigra)

hybrid poplar tree
Image by Matt Lavin via Flickr

The Hybrid Poplar features a gorgeous pyramidal form and grows at an exceedingly fast rate, making them suited for windbreaks or shelter belts. They can grow 6-8 ft a season in favorable conditions. Its fast-growth rate makes it well-suited as a shade tree. Moreover, it’ll tolerate almost any soil type, making it ideal for almost any situation.

The foliage of the Hybrid Poplar is shiny, dark green, and triangular and turns yellow in the fall. Planted in groups, hybrid poplars impart a wonderful, natural look. The Hybrid Poplar is a seedless hybrid variety of the native cottonwood.

Other Common Names: Hybrid Poplar

Growing Zones: 3-9

Average Size at Maturity: 50-70 ft tall and 50-60 ft wide

Flowering Season: Early spring

4. Leyland Cypress (x Cupressocyparis leylandii)

Leyland Cypress
Image by F.D. Richards via Flickr

The Leyland Cypress is a type of Cypress tree that can quickly provide a dense living fence and a sense of privacy wherever it’s planted. It’s loved around the temperate world for its natural pyramid shape and fast growth rate.

It responds well to pruning and can be trained into almost any shape you want. What’s more, the Leyland Cypress is an evergreen that retains the bluish-green color of its foliage throughout the year.

If you’re after a privacy tree quickly for your urban yard, then consider the Leyland Cypress. It thrives in areas with high humidity and abundant rainfall. It needs free-draining soil so should be planted high, away from any low-lying areas.

Other Common Names: Leylandii

Growing Zones: 5-10

Average Size at Maturity: 60-70 ft tall and 15-20 ft wide

Flowering Season: N/A

5. Sweetbay Magnolia (Magnolia virginiana)

sweetbay magnolia
Image by Plant Image Library via Flickr

If you’re looking for a flowering tree that is fast-growing and also a great shade tree, then consider the Sweetbay Magnolia. Late spring and early summer sees a profusion of large white flowers guaranteed to turn heads. The leaves are large and glossy, with a silvery underside. They are hardy trees capable of withstanding moist conditions and even standing water.

For best results, plant the Sweetbay Magnolia in well-draining soil rich in organic matter. Prune the dead lower branches as the tree matures into your desired shape. Other than that, they require little care or attention to look their best.

Other Common Names: Sweetbay, Laurel Magnolia, Swamp Bay, Swamp Magnolia, Beaver Tree, and White Bay

Growing Zones: 5-10

Average Size at Maturity: 30-50 ft tall and 20-25 ft wide

Flowering Season: Late spring and early summer

6. Tulip Poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera)

tulip poplar
Image by Malcolm Manners via Flickr

The Tulip Poplar is the state tree of Indiana and is a stunning native with impressive flowers. Despite its common name, it’s neither a tulip nor a poplar, but related to the magnolia family.

Either way, the Tulip Poplar makes its presence felt throughout the seasons with its broad pyramidal shape. Spring sees the emergence of cup-shaped blossoms with a green/yellow color with hints of neon orange. The leaves are large and in proportion to the large flowers.

The Tulip Poplar grows in a balanced upright and tidy shape, offering reliable shade throughout the summer months. The leaves are bright green and have somewhat of a star shape and turn bright yellow in the fall. Being a native, it provides a habitat for many local bird species, making it a good choice for birdwatchers.

The Tulip Poplar will grow in most soil types but prefers moist well-drained soils.

Other Common Names: Yellow Poplar, American Tulip Tree, Tulip Wood

Growing Zones: 4-9

Average Size at Maturity: 60-90 ft tall and 30-50 ft wide

Flowering Season: Early spring

7. Quaking Aspen (Populus tremuloides ‘Quaking’)

Quaking aspen
Image by Paul Asman and Jill Lenoble via Flickr

The Quaking Aspen is native to large areas of North America and are pioneering species, being the first to recolonize disturbed areas. The leaves are heart-shaped, dark green above and lighter below, and quiver in the slightest breeze, lending the tree its common name.

This type of Aspen tree grows in a tall pyramidal shape when young, becoming more rounded with age. Fall typically sees the leaves turn yellow although you may see some hints of orange or red.

The bark is white and smooth and has traditionally been used for numerous medicinal purposes. Quaking Aspens can be planted alone as specimen trees or in groups for a natural look. They are incredibly hardy and can tolerate extreme cold at high elevations. They thrive in rich, humusy soil but also grows in dry rocky soils. They are also keystone species so provide immense benefits to the environment.

Be sure to check the hardiness map of Indiana to familiarize yourself with what may or may not grow well in your area.

Other Common Names: Golden Aspen, Trembling Aspen, Mountain Aspen, and Trembling Poplar

Growing Zones: 2-6

Average Size at Maturity: 40-50 ft tall and 20-30 ft wide

Flowering Season: April May

8. Red Maple (Acer rubrum)

Red Maple
Image by mirabelka szuszu via Flickr

Like many species of maple tree, Red Maples are fast-growing trees hardy throughout virtually all of the United States. Their fast growth rate and even, symmetrical habit make them well-suited as a shade tree. In spring, small red flowers grace the branches of the tree and fall sees shades of bright scarlet red, to orange and warm yellow.

Being a native, the Red Maple is an important species for local wildlife, and its early spring blossoms are an important food source for pollinators. The leaves emerge in a yellow-green tone shortly after the red flowers and mature to dark green with a silver-hued underside. The wide branches are also an important nesting and shelter site for birds.

Red Maples grow in cool, moist soils in the wild, but are adaptable trees regarding growing conditions.

Other Common Names: Swamp Maple, Water Maple, Soft Maple, and Scarlet Maple

Growing Zones: 4-9

Average Size at Maturity: 40-60 ft tall and wide

Flowering Season: Early spring

9. Weeping Willow (Salix babylonica)

Weeping Willow Tree
Image by jacinta lluch valero via Flickr

Weeping Willows lend an easeful grace to any landscape with their sweeping branches that create a romantic sense of longing. Bright green leaves appear early on in spring, and by summertime, will be dancing in the breeze. In the fall they turn golden yellow, and after being shed, reveal a delicate branching pattern.

Weeping Willows love being planted near a water source but also exhibit good drought tolerance. They are also useful in preventing soil erosion on river banks and along streams. They are popular as shade trees, thanks in part to their ability to grow 8-10 ft a year in favorable conditions.

Weeping Willows can be planted in the wettest, lowest-lying region of your yard and can thrive in loamy, moist, alkaline, and even heavy clay soils.

Other Common Names: Babylon Weeping Willow, Silver Willow, and Babylon Willow

Growing Zones: 5-9

Average Size at Maturity: 30-50 ft tall and wide

Flowering Season: April – May

10. Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba)

Ginkgo biloba
Image by Pietro Zanarini via Flickr

Ginkgo Bilobas are ancient trees loved for the unique shape and color of their foliage. It features a tall and rounded form and is often one of the first trees to change color to shades of golden bright yellow when the weather starts to cool down in the fall. Ginkgos are obscenely hardy, having been around since before dinosaurs roamed the earth, so can tolerate urban smog with ease.

Ginkgos are dioecious, with male and female flowers on separate trees, If you want to avoid the mess and unpleasant aroma of the fruit, plant a male variety. Ginkgos can thrive in a variety of different soil types and are drought-tolerant once established.

Other Common Names: Maidenhair Tree

Growing Zones: 3-9

Average Size at Maturity: 40-70 ft tall and 30-40 ft wide

Flowering Season: Spring

Greening Indiana

Fast-growing trees come in many shapes and sizes, whether evergreen or deciduous, flowering or non-flowering, fruiting or non-fruiting.

Large parts of Indiana are covered in farmland, so why not plant fast-growing trees in your yard or garden? Homeowners are often impatient to achieve a mature-looking garden, and this is where fast-growing trees become useful.

They are also useful in providing shade for the summer months as well as valuable shelter for local wildlife as well as for privacy.

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