Fast-growing trees more likely to fall

January 06, 2013|By Ellen Nibali, For The Baltimore Sun

We lost several shade trees in storms and hurricanes and need to replace them. What are some good fast-growing trees? How much should I fertilize for fastest growth?

Good fast-growing trees can be an oxymoron when you're talking landscapes. A high percentage of trees that fall in high winds are fast growers, such as white pine, silver maple and black locust. Because they grow quickly, their wood tends to be weak and susceptible to breaking. These are still fine trees — excellent native trees, in fact — but think carefully before planting them close to your home.

Moderately fast growers, such as red maple, some oaks, sweet gum or linden, may be a better bet. Contact us for ideas on your exact situation. Juicing your trees with fertilizer can also encourage weak growth. Better to let them grow at a natural rate and add nothing or top dress with compost.

I saw a copy of your newsletter at my friend's house and would like to read the articles before I start my garden this year. Is your newsletter just for master gardeners?

Not at all! The UMD Home and Garden Information Center's newsletter comes out four times a year, and anyone who is interested can subscribe. It helps with pest control as well as gardening. Just go to and click on "Subscribe to E-Newsletter." The current issue you saw, plus back issues, can be read on the website under "What's New?"

University of Maryland Extension's Home and Garden Information Center offers free gardening and pest information. Call 800-342-2507 or send a question to the website at

Plant of the week


Skimmia japonica

This shade-loving evergreen shrub gives year-round delight beginning with deliciously fragrant white flowers in spring, then bright red berries that appear in fall and last through the winter. Leaves have a shiny, rich green color year round. Because most skimmia plants are dioecious, meaning they have male and female flowers on separate plants, both sexes must be planted to ensure a crop of fruits. So for an attractive display, plant skimmias in groups. Provide the moist, well-drained, organic soils they love. These Japanese natives are hardy in Zone 7 but marginal in Zone 6. They grow 3 to 5 foot tall and are fairly deer-resistant. — Shelley McNeal

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