What are the Best Fast-Growing Trees for South Carolina?

“What are the best trees to plant that will live great in South Carolina and grow fast?” Question from Donna of Newberry, South Carolina

Answer: What a great question! I always like to stick with regional natives or varieties of natives that are well-adapted to an area, in addition to being attractive and fast growing. Trees are real long-term investments, so you want to get your plantings right from the start. Here are my top 5 favorite beautiful South Carolina native trees that are large, fast-growing, and long-lived.

  1. October Glory Red Maple (Acer rubrum ‘October Glory’): All red maples are fast growers, but ‘October Glory’ has the added benefits of spectacular orange-red fall leaves and a nice rounded crown. This moderately large tree can reach 40-50 feet when mature, is adaptable to many soil types and requires full to partial sun for best growth.
  2. Southern Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora): What a southern classic! This medium- to fast-growing tree is fully evergreen and boasts fragrant, platter-sized, ivory flowers in late spring and early summer. It is adaptable but grows best in fertile, well-drained soil and full to partial sun. A mature specimen can reach 60-80 feet in height.
  3. Shawnee Brave Bald Cypress (Taxodium disticum ‘Shawnee Brave’): Bald cypress are elegant conifers that grow very fast and lose their soft, feathery needles every fall. What makes ‘Shawnee Brave’ special is its tall, columnar habit, which allows it to grow to great heights in smaller yards. It can grow in almost any soil type and looks best when planted in full to partial sun.
  4. Skyline Honeylocust (Gleditsia triacanthos var. inermis SKYLINE): This open, airy honey locust grows really fast, reaches a modest height of 35-40 feet, and is fruitless and thornless. It has a pyramidal habit and fine leaves that turn yellow in fall. It will grow in all soil types and prefers full sun.
  5. Live Oak (Quercus virginiana): This traditional southern oak can grow up to 3 feet a year, making it a pretty fast grower for its kind. The trees can reach an enormous size with elegant, broad, spreading branches that dangle with Spanish moss. Reserve this tree for an open yard where it can grow to become a glorious, long-lived specimen tree.

Happy tree planting!

Jessie Keith

Black Gold Horticulturist