Fast Growing Hedge

jonhedgeMarch 23, 2010

Hi -

I think I am in Zone 9 (south coastal California). We have a row of town-homes behind our house, and I would like to block them. I was thinking a tall dense hedge, but do not know what type. I appreciate any advice you can offer! Ideally, the hedge would be 80 feet long, 3 feet thick, 20 feet tall, and would grow about 10-15 feet in a year. We are on very good soil, and the hedge would get about 80% of the day's sun.

Thank you,


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I can't think of a single plant that would do that for you ... Leyland cypress wouldn't stop growing, Italian Cypress don't grow that fast.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2010 at 9:21PM
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nmgirl(8 S.NM)

Wow! You could make a fortune with a plant like that!!!
I too have no idea. The 20' tall I could manage but the 10-15'/yr. threw me off.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2010 at 10:36PM
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jkom51(Z9 CA/Sunset 17)

A plant that will do it in 5 years is the yellow cestrum. It is an old-time shrub that disappeared from nurseries commercially. My gardener discovered it in his backyard and gave some clippings to East Bay Nursery in Berkeley, who propagated it and now sell it. I don't know if anyone else sells it commercially besides them.

This is a shot of it from Feb 2010. The spindly tree next to it is a pittosporum. The cestrum is thicker than 3', though, more like twice that. OTOH, it grows vase-shaped, which means you'll get a lot more over-the-fence coverage from it than from most trees or shrubs.

Shrubs grow much faster than trees - this one cleared the 6' fence in less than 3 years. We started with a 2' container plant - I have two of them and both are the same size almost exactly. It is evergreen and the yellow flowers are extremely attractive to hummers. The branches are 'springy' - they'll tend to flop over at first with the heavy winter rains and high winds. I either prune them - more branches spring up from any pruned branch, similar to how oleander behaves - or tie them upright. Mine are now 6 yrs old and only a few outer branches flop in winter, the rest have thickened and remain upright.

Unlike the more floriferous pink and red cestrums that are commonly available, the yellow is much more resistant to black scale, and only flowers twice a year at most (the pink and red stay in bloom forever, as far as I can tell from mine).

It is well behaved and does not create any seedlings or sprouts further out. Certainly it's not the most beautiful shrub I have, but it's tough, fast growing, and once established, completely xeric. HTH!

    Bookmark   March 26, 2010 at 1:05PM
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jkom51(Z9 CA/Sunset 17)

I almost forgot - 80' is a very long row to be looking at the same plant visually. I think you'd find it very boring! (I would)

What I'd do is figure out which windows need to be blocked, and plant your main shrubs/trees in those spots. Then put in some others that are narrow but have foliage contrast to liven things up - variegated rhamnus is one of my favorites. An oleander standard - sometimes you can find them at HDepot for ridiculously low prices for a 5-6' tree - can be a nice variation that should be placed slightly forward of the cestrums, so they don't lean on it and impede growth. I plant around my oleander standards and it creates a very nice grouping with colorful mini-shrubs. The white 'Sister Mary Agnes' is the most vigorous and long-blooming oleander, assuming you don't suffer from the pests that have devastated oleander shrubs around the state - mine only get aphids in the spring, nothing more.

Anyway, if you only have 3' of width but no more, then I'd suggest shrubs trained as standards, but they won't give the width coverage that the cestrum will, without closer planting.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2010 at 1:25PM
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nmgirl(8 S.NM)

Cestrum is also known as night-blooming jessamine. As with all jessamine it is considered toxic and is also on some invasive plant lists. It's native to the West Indies. It's not xeric in my neck of the woods but may be in yours. Looks like it's happy in your yard jkom51! Good advice about the 80' of the same plant too.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2010 at 10:40AM
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love_the_yard(z9A Jax FL)

Night-blooming jasmine (or jessamine) is one variety of cestrum. There are many plants in the cestrum genus.


    Bookmark   September 23, 2013 at 3:19PM
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