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Fast Growing Native Perennials

A handful of speedy plants!

native zizia in the woods
zizia growing beneath deciduous trees

Whether you are looking to fill a space where you have removed ivy or fill in parts of your garden more quickly, you may want perennials known for their propensity to grow and spread. This is not a complete list of quickly growing perennials; rather it is those perennials I have found to grow quickly, but not crazily, in our 1/8 acre garden. These perennials spread, but can be easily pulled by hand should they grow where you prefer they not be.


Black-eyed susan (Rudbeckia fulgida)

The foliage of this tried and true native grows early in the season. Profuse blooms arrive in July. They also grow in full sun and partial shade. The flowers attract all sorts of pollinators and if you leave the stems standing in fall, the seeds will feed birds through winter. These perennials spread on their own, self sow and can be divided to make more plants.

Penstemon are easy to grow native perennials that do best in full sun. Penstemon bloom in late spring or early summer. Once the snap dragon like flowers finish blooming, seed heads remain upright for most of the summer. Penstemon also form low rosettes of foliage at the base of the plant. Those rosettes often remain semi-evergreen through winter. They grow well in full sun or part shade and in dry or moist soil.


Celandine poppy (Stylophorum diphyllum)

The native woodland poppy is an easy to grow spring bloomer. If the woodland poppy is grown in deep shade it can be perennial. In sunnier or drier areas, it may be ephemeral, disappearing during the summer heat but reappearing the following spring. The bright yellow flowers last for about a month. Celandine poppy spreads by self sowing. While it may self sow well away from the original plant, the new plants are easy to dig up and move.

Golden ragwort (Packera Aurea)

Golden ragwort is a flowering perennial. In spring and early summer, it sends up 2 to 3 foot stems topped with small golden yellow flowers. Golden ragwort grows in full shade to dappled shade in moist or average soil. It also readily spreads and can be easily divided to create more plants. The plant forms rosettes at the base and those are often evergreen over winter.

Zizia (Zizia Aurea)

Zizia, also known as golden alexander, is a spring blooming 3 foot high perennial with yellow flowers that look just like dill. Zizia blooms from April to June and then sporadically through the summer. Flower heads will dry and remain for most of the summer. This plant does well in full sun and part shade. It prefers moister soil but will do well in average soils as well. The foliage stays lush and strong and partially turns to a burgundy color in late fall and may often be evergreen. It readily spreads and can be easily divided.

Fast growers -- sometimes, this attribute is a plus. Sometimes, it is decidedly not what you want! These are all wonderful native additions for your garden though. All are commonly available at native plant nurseries or by mail. Do you have a favorite fast grower? Please share in the comments!

Thank you for gardening for the Chesapeake.


We want you to be as excited about planting Chesapeake natives as we are. “Plant This or That” gives you a native alternative to popular plants. Other posts highlight really fabulous fauna native to the Chesapeake.

Nuts for Natives, avid gardener, Baltimore City admirer, Chesapeake Bay Watershed restoration enthusiast, and public service fan.

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