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Tree and Shrub Growth Rates

Now is a great time to plan for additions to your landscape. And as you scour the catalogues and read plant tags you will often see trees rated as fast, medium or slow growers.

These are average growth rates, but just like a plant’s mature size it can vary with local climate, growing conditions and the care you provide.  A slow growth rate means the plant usually grows 12 inches or less each year.  Medium growers add 13 to 24 inches each year, while fast growing trees grow 25 inches or more in one year. 

The American Conifer Society (ACS) has classified cone bearing plants by their size in any direction (height or spread) and growth rate.  They range from Miniature (M) conifers that grow less than 1 inch a year and reach less than 1 foot size at 10 years of age to large (L) conifers that grow more than 12 inches a year and are greater than 15 feet tall at ten years of age.

A bit more information: The other ACS growth rates and classifications include dwarf (D) conifers that grow more than 1 inch but less than 6 inches a year and reach sizes of 1 to 6 feet by 10 years of age.  Intermediate (I) conifers grow more than 6 and less than 12 inches a year and are more than 6 feet but less than 15 feet in size. 

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