Tall plants with foliage that quickly fills in spaces can be planted as screens, privacy hedges or disguise for an unsightly feature in the landscape, as well as for the simple enjoyment of their attractive foliage or stunning flowers. Their ability to grow and fill in quickly means you won’t have to wait years for the tall plants to fill in and do their job. When selecting these plants, consider bonus features such as year-round greenery and butterfly attractants.
“Glasnevin” (Solanum crispum “Glasnevin”), also known as Chilean potato bush, is an evergreen vine or shrub that grows fast in full sun and thrives in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 8 through 11. This prolific flower producer displays yellow-centered, blue blossoms March through late November. “Glasnevin” grows to heights of about 12 feet, works well as a tall hedge and tolerates seacoast exposures. All parts of “Glasnevin” are poisonous and can cause stomach discomfort if ingested. Yellow elder (Tecoma stans) is another tall, evergreen plant that fills in quickly. It grows in USDA zones 7 through 11 and reaches heights of up to 10 feet, displaying yellow, bell-shaped flowers and deep green foliage on arching stems. This easy-to-grow evergreen is tolerant of heat and seacoast exposures. Yellow elder is invasive in some areas. The nectar, pollen and seeds of yellow elder are toxic if consumed.
Several species of bamboo are non-invasive and reach heights of up to 35 feet tall. “Alphonse Karr” (Bambusa multiplex “Alphonse Karr”), for example, grows quickly in USDA zones 8 through 10 in full to partial sun. This clumping bamboo has attractive striped green stems and -- with occasional pruning -- maintains a height of about 8 to 10 feet tall. “Alphonse Karr” is deer resistant and tolerant of seacoast exposure. Another option is giant blue bamboo (Borinda boliana), one of the fastest growing clumping bamboos. It grows up to 20 feet tall in full sun in USDA zones 8 and 9 and produces feathery green foliage on arching canes. Clumping bamboo spreads a few inches each year, while many other bamboos spread a number of feet in a year but are invasive.
3. Hummingbird and Butterfly Attractants
Plants that attract hummingbirds and butterflies bring additional beauty and interest to the garden that children may especially appreciate. Swamp jessamine (Gelsemium rankinii), also known as Rankin's trumpetflower, is a semi-evergreen vine growing in full to partial sun in USDA zones 7 through 9. The long-blooming bright yellow flowers provide nectar to hummingbirds. The plants grows quickly up to heights of 10 to 20 feet. To attract both hummingbirds and butterflies, consider the fast-growing peacock flower (Caesalpinia Pulcherrima), which thrives in USDA zones 9 through 11. This 10 to 20-foot tall broadleaf evergreen shrub produces vibrant red orange blooms and fern-like foliage. It grows best in full sun and tolerates drought-like conditions. Parts of swamp jessamine and peacock flower are toxic to humans and pets.
4. Fast-Growing Tall Plants for Problem Areas
The fast growing, evergreen pyramidal arborvitae “Pyramidalis” (Thuja occidentalis “Pyramidalis”) grows to 5 feet wide and 25 feet tall at the rate of about 1 foot per year, when young. It tolerates overly wet, soggy soil in USDA zones 3 through 8. This bright green, pyramid-shaped conifer is often used for windbreaks and privacy screens. The toxicity of its foliage makes it resistant to deer, and it should not be eaten by humans. For a flowering option, consider the fingerleaf rodgersia (Rodgersia aesculifolia), which grows in shaded areas in USDA zones 5 through 8. Fingerleaf rodgersia grows to about 5-feet tall with white blooms appearing on 3-foot tall spikes. This fast grower thrives in overly wet soil and works well as a screen or border.