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8 Fast Growing Trees for USDA Zone 6

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If you want your garden to look mature and full of life, you need fast-growing trees that’ll fill your garden soon after you plant them. As long as you pick the right tree and plant it in the right place, all you need is general maintenance to keep your yard, property, and tree happy.

After confirming your USDA planting zone, measure the available free space in your garden for your tree. Don’t plant them under utility lines or too close to your home, driveways, or underground pipelines to avoid the branches and roots from causing accidental damage.

With freezing cold winters and warm summers, Zone 6 provides a decent balance of hot and cold to thrive. From shade trees to cold hardy fig trees, you can grow a wide variety of plants in USDA Zone 6.

Here are some of the best fast-growing trees for Zone 6 you can plant today.

8 USDA Zone 6 Fast Growing Free To Plant Today

1. Eastern Redbud (Cercis canadensis)

Eastern Redbud - Grid 2 Square
Images by Lyrae Willis, Own Work, for Tree Vitalize

Standing pretty in most parts of NJ, PA, and NC, the Eastern Redbud is a sight to behold in autumn when its deep green leaves turn sunshine yellow, illuminating gardens and turning heads. Native to North America, the Eastern Redbud requires full sun (at least six hours or more daily), partial shade, and loamy soil with high organic matter to thrive.

The Eastern Redbud also works great as an alternative to a Zone 6 privacy tree. In the spring, beautiful pink, lavender, or burgundy flowers adorn the branches that you can see from blocks away. The tree’s blossoms and tiny copper, green, or burgundy fruits attract bees, butterflies, and pollinators to your garden.

Although the tree is resistant to black walnut, compaction, fire, and deer, it can fall prey to leafhoppers, beetles, caterpillars, and scale insects, among others. The Eastern Redbud is short-lived and, even in ideal conditions, can live less than 75 years.

This tree’s roots aren’t large or invasive, so you can plant them near your driveway too. Pair your Eastern Redbud with Virginia Bluebells, Daffodils, and Moss Phlox for a pop of color. You’ll need between 15 and 30 feet of available space to plant this tree.

Other Common Names: American Judas Tree, American Redbud, Eastern Redbud, Judas Tree, Mexican Redbud, Redbud, Texas Redbud

Growing Zones: 4-9

Average Size at Maturity: 20-30 ft tall, 15-30 ft wide

2. American Red Maple Tree (Acer rubrum ‘Brandywine’)

Decorating landscapes around most parts of TX and FL, American Red Maple turns heads in fall when its leaves turn goldish-green to red and finally deep burgundy.

In 1982, Dr. A.M. Townsend began examining how leafhoppers react to a tree’s fall colors in an attempt to improve the then-existing red maple cultivars. ‘Brandywine’ is a cross between ‘October Glory’ and ‘Autumn Flame’ and was released in December 1994.

American Red Maple requires full sun (at least six hours), partial shade, and slightly acidic moist soils to thrive. The tree’s leaves start changing color in mid-fall and can remain anything but green for 14 days or more! Its flowers are sterile, and since it doesn’t produce any fruit, it won’t create a mess for you to clean up!

The Red Maple is a great shade tree for those who want to keep their houses warm in the winter and warm in the summer. You’ll need at least 30 feet of available space to grow this beauty in your garden. Although this species of maple tree is resistant to potato leaf hopper, it can fall prey to aphids, scale, borers, and caterpillars. Also, watch out for verticillium wilt, fungal leaf spot, canker, and root rot.

Other Common Names: Red Maple

Growing Zones: 4-9

Average Size at Maturity: 40-60 ft tall, 25-45 ft wide

3. Quaking Aspen Tree (Populus tremuloides ‘Quaking’)

Quaking Aspen Tree (Populus tremuloides 'Quaking')
Image by Wesley Carr via Flickr

Adorning landscapes around NC, the Quaking Aspen is a favorite among gardeners for its chalk-white bark, sunshine-yellow fall foliage, and the ‘quacking’ sound it makes in the summer. Native to NC, the tree requires full sun (at least six hours daily) and moist, well-draining soils to thrive. The Quaking Aspen is short-lived and, even in ideal conditions, can live up to 50 years.

In the fall, the tree’s smooth green foliage turns bright yellow, while its bark remains chalk-white with dark brown patches. Its heart-shaped leaves have flat petioles which make a quacking sound with the slightest breeze in the summer! The tree plays a significant role in the life of birds and small mammals, providing them with cover and food through its flower and fruit.

The Quaking Aspen is resistant to wet soil but can fall prey to dieback, leaf spots, powdery mildew, and cankers.

Treat your Aspen tree if you spot any fungal infections to avoid premature leaf drop. Also, watch out for caterpillars, borers, and aphids. Finally, you’ll need at least 30 feet of available space to plant this beauty in your garden. Although it doesn’t grow high, you’ll want to plant it away from immovable structures and underground pipelines.

Other Common Names: Trembling Aspen, Golden Aspen

Growing Zones: 1-6

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

4. Saucer Magnolia (Magnolia x soulangeana)

Saucer Magnolia (Magnolia x soulangeana)
Image by Tatters ✾ via Flickr

Looking for a tree that looks straight out of a fairy tale? You can’t go wrong with Saucer Magnolia, a tree that looks like it’s decorated with many pink butterflies!

Beautifying landscapes around GA and PA, Saucer Magnolia is a cross between Magnolia liliiflora and Magnolia denudata. Native to Japan, the tree requires full sun (at least six hours or more), partial shade, and loamy soils with high organic matter to thrive.

In spring, the tree changes the entire landscape it’s planted on by adorning a coat of beautiful pinkish-purple and white flowers contrasting against the deep green leaves. Unfortunately, these fragrant flowers, which look like butterflies, often attract saddleback caterpillars and bees, so you might want to watch out for infestation.

Although this drought-tolerant tree is resistant to deer and air pollution, it doesn’t like wet feet, so always test the soil to avoid standing water. Although the tree’s roots aren’t deep or invasive, don’t plant it too close to immovable structures, under utility lines, or underground pipes.

You’ll want to watch out for sooty black mold, leaf spots, and cankers. Also, remember, with many blooms comes much ground mess, but nothing a good leaf blower and vacuum won’t fix!

Other Common Names: Saucer Magnolia, Tulip Magnolia, Chinese Magnolia

Growing Zones: 4-9

Average Size at Maturity: 15-35 ft tall, 15-25 ft wide

5. Autumn Blaze Red Maple Tree (Acer x freemanii ‘Jeffersred’)

If you want to paint your landscape red, you will fall in love with the Autumn Blaze Red Maple Tree! Electrifying landscapes around GA, PA, and MD, the tree is loved for its reliable blazing red fall color.

A cross between Red Maple and Silver Maple, the cultivar was discovered in the 1960s by Glenn Jeffers. The Autumn Blaze Red Maple grows four times faster than a traditional maple tree, growing three feet or more per year!

This type of maple tree requires full sun (at least six to eight hours daily), partial shade, and moist, well-draining soils to thrive. While it is cold-hardy and deer-tolerant, it’s only somewhat resistant to drought, which means that when it’s too hot, your tree will need extra water to drink. In the fall, the tree’s glossy green foliage turns fiery red, which you can see from miles away.

You might even see copper or gold inedible fruits dangling from the branches creating a stunning contrast against the bright red leaves.

The Autumn Blaze Red Maple doesn’t appreciate standing water, so while it can tolerate some overwatering neglect, frequent wet soils can cause root rot. Therefore, it’s important to test your soil before watering the tree, even when it’s too hot outside.

Other Common Names: Freeman maple, Freeman’s maple

Growing Zones: 3-8

Average Size at Maturity: 45-70 ft tall, 35-50 ft wide

6. Weeping Willow (Salix babylonica)

Weeping Willow (Salix babylonica)
Image by brianfagan via Flickr

Enhancing landscapes around NC, MD, NC, GA, and parts of FL and TX, the Weeping Willow is a cross between grace, time, and wisdom. Native to East Asia, and probably China, Carl Linnaeus gave the tree its name, thinking it was from ancient Babylon.

The Weeping Willow’s dramatic appearance has been featured in numerous movies, characterizing it as a tree that signifies hope, strength, beauty, and wisdom.

The Weeping Willow requires full sun (at least six hours daily), partial shade of at least two hours daily, and moist, well-draining soils to thrive. In ideal conditions, the Weeping Willow grows between six and eight feet a year, making it one of the fastest-growing evergreen trees for Zone 6 dwellers! The tree attracts butterflies, bees, and other beneficial pollinators to your garden.

The Weeping Willow’s roots are aggressive and invasive, so while they help with soil erosion, they can quickly disfigure sidewalks and damage underground pipes and structures, resulting in major repair costs.

Although Weeping Willow is resistant to Black Walnut disease, deer, and erosion, you’ll need to keep a close eye on powdery mildew, leaf spots, cankers, and blight. You’ll need between 24 and 60 feet of available space to plant this tree in your yard.

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

Growing Zones: 4-9

Average Size at Maturity: 35-50 ft tall, 35-50 ft wide

7. Yoshino Cherry Tree (Prunus x yedoensis)

Yoshino Cherry tree in blossom
Image by Bernard Spragg. NZ via Flickr

If you’re looking for a tree that’ll turn heads, steal hearts, and be the envy of your neighbors, you can’t go wrong with the stunning and beautiful Yoshino Cherry Tree! Native to Japan, the Yoshino Cherry is a favorite among WA, FL, and MD gardeners, for a good reason! Its oriental branching patterns and clusters of white flowers with pink centers are a sight to behold in spring.

Its fragrant flowers lure in butterflies, while its fruit attracts birds. This tree can level up your garden game if you don’t mind a blanket of fallen flowers. The Yoshino Cherry Tree requires full sun (at least six hours daily), partial shade, and loamy soils with high organic matter to thrive. Although the tree is somewhat drought-tolerant, frequent dry spells or standing water can damage the tree.

Keep an eye out for fungal infections, borers and scale, and deer. Did you know that in 1912, Japan gifted 3,000 cherry trees to Washington DC as a gift of friendship and respect? Even today, Sakura represents good fortune, new beginnings, and revival. Adding this tree to your landscape is the best way to celebrate the coming of spring with its beautiful display of flowers.

Other Common Names: Sakura, Japanese Flowering Cherry, Potomac Cherry, Tokyo Cherry, Yoshino Cherry

Growing Zones: 5-8

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

8. Pink Velour Crape Myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica ‘Whit III’)

Decorating most small to medium gardens around TX, the Pink Velour Crape Myrtle is a favorite for a few reasons. Not only does this stunning flowering tree grow fast, but it’s also not too tall, so it’s ideal for small-sized gardens too. Apart from that, it boasts burgundy leaves in spring that turn plum-green in the summer, all while contrasting against its clusters of lush magenta blossoms!

The Pink Velour Crape Myrtle requires full sun (at least six hours daily) and moist, well-draining soils to thrive. While the tree tolerates drought to an extent, frequent dry spells can cause it to wilt.

Water your tree when the temperatures are hot, but avoid wetting the delicate foliage, as that could damage the plant under direct sunlight. Although this tree isn’t very high, avoid planting it too close to immovable structures and underground pipelines.

The tree shows some resistance to powdery mildew, but you may want to watch out for fungal leaf spots, aphids, and scale. You need anywhere between 12 and 25 feet of available space to grow this beauty in your garden. Pair this Zone 6 tree with a wide range of flowers to make it pop! Pick daffodils, hostas, lantanas, or even hibiscus to bring nature home.

Other Common Names: Crapemyrtle, Crape Myrtle, Crepe Myrtle, Lilac of the South

Growing Zones: 6-9

Average Size at Maturity: 8-12 ft tall, 8-12 ft wide

Ready, Steady, Grow!

You can grow many more fast-growing trees in Zone 6, but these are just some of the best ones gardeners prefer to grow. Apart from fast-growing trees, you can grow palm trees and fruit trees, including apples, cold-hardy figs, or edible cherries.

If you’ve already picked your fast-growing tree, whip out your measuring tape and your home’s blueprints to ensure you won’t plant your tree too close to underground pipelines. Also, test your soil to understand the kind of soil you’re dealing with and how you can improve it for your tree to thrive.

Finally, remember some trees have aggressive roots, but as long as you plant the right tree in the right place, it’ll enhance your garden!

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