Have your friends and neighbors with green thumbs suddenly nurtured little jungles all around you, leaving your home in the proverbial dust? Fear not: While most gardening takes patience, these fast-growing plants will allow you to spiff up your window sills or transform that barren patch of dirt in the backyard into a thing of beauty in a flash.
Fast-Growing Outdoor Plants
We spoke to plant and landscaping expert Rachael Freitas from UPCOUNTRY Plant + Design to get her top picks for sprucing up an outdoor space without an excruciating wait. Here are Freitas’s favorite container and in-ground plants that thrive outside. Just bear in mind that the U.S. sports no less than 11 growing zones based on the average annual minimum winter temperature so before you get to work on your garden, make sure the outdoor plants you pick are right for your area.
1. Purple Heart (Setcreasea pallida); Zones 9 to 11
A species of spiderwort native to the Gulf coast of Mexico, this deep purple beauty holds a special place in Freitas’s heart: “I cannot love this plant enough,” she says. “Some climates are lucky enough to use this as an evergreen ground cover, but it will also do well in containers for a bright, spiller of a plant.”
2. Sweet Potato Vine (Ipomoea batatas); Zones 8 to 11
Per Freitas, this container plant is available in several varieties, all of which provide excellent coverage and an attractive splash of color (black, purple, green or red) to a garden. She recommends using them as a standalone plant or as underplanting for something taller.
3. Walker’s Low Catmint (Nepeta racemosa); Zones 4 to 8
This one will add eye-catching blue color to your outdoor space and you’ll be especially grateful to have it in your yard over the summer months because if you plant it densely enough in containers, you have natural mosquito control, says Freitas. She suggests planting 2 to 3 one gallon plants together to really get the fullness you’re going for.
4. Philodendron Selloum (Philodendron bipinnatifidum); Zones 9 to11
This fun tropical piece of foliage can be planted in-ground to provide quick coverage to areas with full shade or dappled sun. (Bonus: If it doesn’t thrive in your zone, this pretty pick works well as an interior plant with enough bright light.)
5. Butterfly Bush (Buddleia davidii); Zones 5 to 9
“This quick growing shrub gives butterflies and hummingbirds a food source, which is good for the world,” says Freitas. Sounds pretty nice for a backyard, too. Pro tip: “Use it as a background plant, as it can quickly reach heights of 6 to 8 feet.”
6. Red Twig Dogwood (Cornus alba ‘Sibirica'); Zones 2 to 9
If your region gets frigid, opt for this multi-stemmed, vibrant pick since this hardy plant “can give you year-round interest even in the dead of winter.” Freitas describe this one as “an extremely modern statement plant [that also] offers a high level of aesthetic in even the most traditional of landscapes.”
Fast-Growing Indoor Plants
Looking for something that can serve as eye-candy on your balcony as well as thrive indoors? No problem. We tapped ‘Plant Mom’ Joyce Mast from Bloomscape for suggestions on plants that grow quickly and can live outdoors and inside the home.
7. Date Palm (Phoenix dactylifera)
Some plants are so fussy they seem to wilt if you so much as look at ‘em the wrong way. Date Palm, however, is not so high-maintenance: Mast describes this plant as “an easy going and adaptable palm that features dramatic fanning fronds and is tolerant to many conditions.” Bonus: The plant mom says it’s pet-friendly, too. Mast recommends you put this one on your patio when the weather is warm and pull it inside for the winter. A bright area is ideal when you move your palm indoors, but Mast recommends you find a spot that avoids direct sun rays through glass onto its fronds.
8. Swiss Cheese Plant (Monstera Deliciosa)
Per Mast, Monsteras can grow just about anywhere, which is a big plus. That said, she has some tips for how to make the most of yours. While this plant will do fine in low light, it grows faster and becomes more dramatic in bright, indirect sun spaces. Finally, since this one is native to tropical climates, Mast recommends you keep your Monstera moist with a daily misting. In terms of watering, her advice is to “stick your fingers in the soil to see if it’s dry. If it’s dry between 1 to 2 inches down, water your Monstera directly in the pot (so you don’t get the foliage wet).”
9. Bamboo Palm (Chamaedorea seifrizii)
“The Bamboo Palm is definitely a fast-growing palm especially when placed outdoors,” says Mast. But she also sings its praises as an indoor plant that will bring color and warmth to any room in the house. Unlike other tropical plants, these guys will fare fine in low light conditions, so they’re particularly versatile—though if you’re hoping for your palm to grow tall, the more light the better, she says.
10. Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia reginae)
An extra large plant that’s sure to make a big impression, “[Bird of Paradise] is considered queen of the indoor plant world, yet also great for the outdoors,” says Mast. While this tropical plant is at its best when it's bathed in sunlight, the Plant Mom assures that this “magnificent and regal beauty” is hardy and can adapt to a “wide spectrum of light conditions.” And who doesn’t love a forgiving plant friend?