What Plants Grow Fast? (11 Plants That Grow Quickly)

Whether you just discovered gardening in mid-summer, you have a very short growing season, or life just got in the way, you can still grow a garden from seed even halfway through the summer. The key is picking the right fast-growing plants.

However, it is important to remember to keep your vision manageable. If you’re late in the season or a new gardener, you have little time to plan or clear new garden beds. 

As new gardeners, we’re especially voracious – fueled on beginner’s passion, we want to grow the biggest garden possible. But you’ll only end up overwhelmed by the sheer amount of work and learning. It’s best to approach this short growing season as an experiment – starting off with fewer varieties so that you can learn how to grow each plant, which then sets you up even better for next year. 

You also avoid costly mistakes, like cutting large garden beds in unsuitable locations, or planting permanent fast-growing plants in the wrong places.

The plants on this list are the fastest growing from seed (mostly) annual vegetables and flowers. Most of the vegetables are best planted in cooler weather, but you can grow two during the height of summer. The flower list is the opposite. The listed plants are all easy to grow, as you don’t want to be dealing with challenges when you’re pressed for time.

If you’re really pressed for time, pick up seedlings from your local garden center. It’s more expensive than seed, but you can shave off 4 to 6 weeks of growth. If you’re a beginner, you won’t need to learn seed starting right away and can focus on learning plant care.

Ready? Let’s begin. 

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What Plants Grow Fast?

Fast-Growing Vegetables

#1 Arugula/Rocket (Eruca vesicaria subsp. sativa) – 20 – 45 Days To Harvest

  • Family: Brassicaceae
  • Growing Season: Cool-Season
  • Germination: 10 – 15
  • Days to Maturity: 45
  • Light Requirement: Full Sun, Part Sun
3 arugula
Arugula is a fast-growing, cool-season vegetable in the Brassica family.

If you’re short on space and looking to get the biggest grocery savings for each square spot, arugula is a great choice. It has a peppery flavor that is great to add to salads or added on top of pizza. You can harvest baby arugula in as little as 20 days when the leaves are 2 to 4 inches tall, or wait until it reaches full maturity at 45 days, when the leaves are 12 to 24 inches.

Arugula is a cool-season plant that’s very heat sensitive. It’s best grown in the shoulder season, and you can grow it under cover for winter harvests. Look for the fastest-growing varieties, Runway, Garden, and Astro.

The perennial Wild Arugula (Diplotaxis tenuifolia) has a bolder taste and takes longer to grow, but can stand up to heat better.

#2 Loose-Leaf Lettuce (Lactuca sativa) – 20 – 50 Days To Harvest

  • Family: Asteraceae
  • Growing Season: Cool-Season
  • Germination: 5 to 10 days
  • Days to Maturity: 20 days (Baby), 45 – 50 days (Adult)
  • Light Requirement: Full Sun to Part Shade
hydroponic lettuce 3
Loose-Leaf Lettuce is another cool season vegetable that grows quickly.

If you want to grow lettuce fast, bypass head lettuce and choose a loose-leaf lettuce that you can continually harvest by picking the outer leaves. Like the other greens on this list, you can harvest sooner if you pick baby leaves rather than adult leaves. 

While there are more heat-resistant varieties, lettuce is best grown in the cooler weather (or even overwinter) as most lettuce will bolt in the heat. Bolting is when the lettuce stem grows upward with the leaves spiraling around it until it produces flowers. While the lettuce leaves are still edible, they get more bitter as they bolt. If you see your lettuce start to bolt, harvest the whole plant right away.

(You can find other types of lettuce that grow fast here).

#3 Radish (Raphanus sativus) – 24 Days To Harvest

  • Family: Brassicaceae
  • Growing Season: Cool-Season
  • Germination: 5 to 10 days
  • Days to Maturity: 20 – 30 days
  • Light Requirement: Full Sun
growing radishes
Radishes are another fast-growing cool-season crop in the Brassica family.

Did you know that you can eat all the parts of a radish? Radish is the fastest growing annual root vegetable, and the leaves make tasty greens. In general, the smaller the radish, the milder the taste. Larger radishes (like daikon) get spicier.

To ensure the best taste, keep the soil consistently moist but not wet, as the roots will rot in waterlogged soil or get tough in dry soil. 

If you have heavy clay soil, give root vegetables a miss – or grow in containers. They’ll struggle to grow roots. You also don’t want to add too much compost to alleviate the clay soil, as the radishes will take the extra nutrients and put more energy into foliage rather than the roots. But this is if you want the radish roots rather than the greens.

#4 Bok Choy/Pak Choi (Scientific name) – 35 – 60 Days To Harvest

  • Family: Brassicaceae
  • Growing Season: Cool-Season
  • Germination: 5 – 10 days
  • Days to Maturity: 35 (Baby) to 60 (Adult) days
  • Light Requirement: Full Sun to Part Sun
bok choi
Bok Choi is a fast-growing Brassica that needs part to full sun.

Also known as pak choi, bok choy is a Chinese cabbage that’s a lot quicker to grow than European cabbages. Bok choy tastes a little like spinach or water chestnuts, but with a sweeter, peppery undertone. Steam it, use it in stir-fries, or even eat it raw (bok choy leaves fresh from the garden are tender and sweet).

You can harvest the outer leaves to let the plant continue producing, or harvest the whole plant in either the baby or adult form. While they are a cool-season vegetable, they can withstand some heat. As a brassica, you’ll need to cover them with insect netting to protect them from flea beetles and cabbage moths.

#5 Green Beans (Phaseolus vulgaris) – 50 Days To Harvest

  • Family: Fabaceae
  • Growing Season: Warm-Season
  • Germination: 8 – 16 days
  • Days to Maturity: 50 – 65 days
  • Light Requirement: Full Sun
pole beans (green beans)
Green beans grow fairly fast, and pole beans will save you some space in your garden while still producing high yields.

Green beans are really satisfying when they sprout. Unlike lettuce and radishes, green beans break through the soil with big stems and leaves. While there are some cool-season beans, most green beans are great for growing at the start of summer when the soil is warm. However, high heat may make them lose their flowers, so shade them if you get a heat wave. 

You can choose between the bush beans and pole beans. Bush beans don’t need to be trellised, but produce a finite batch all at once. Pole beans need to be trellised, but they will keep producing beans so long as you keep harvesting them. Most bush beans produce in 50 – 55 days, while pole beans take slightly longer at 55 to 65 days. If you’re going for speed and low maintenance, go for bush beans.

Add green beans to salads or soups, or steam them with butter.

If you’re on the shoulder-season, go with snap peas. They also germinate and grow quickly, but prefer the cooler temperatures. 

#6 Dwarf/Microdwarf Tomatoes (Solanum lycopersicum) – 42 – 75 Days To Harvest

  • Family: Solanaceae
  • Growing Season: Warm-Season
  • Germination: 7 to 14 days
  • Days to Maturity: 42 – 75
  • Light Requirement: Full Sun
tomato plant no leaves
Dwarf tomatoes are a warm-season crop, and they don’t take as long to mature as bigger tomatoes.

Just because you have a short growing season, doesn’t mean you can’t grow tomatoes. While most tomatoes take a whole growing season to produce, dwarf and microdwarf tomatoes produce a lot quicker – and keep producing while remaining a compact size. You really get the best of both indeterminate and determinate tomatoes. 

You have plenty of dwarf tomatoes to choose from, some heirloom, some hybrid, and some bred by the Dwarf Tomato Project. Dwarf refers to the size, with dwarf tomatoes growing between 2 to 4.5 feet, and microdwarfs growing up to 1 foot. You can easily grow a dwarf tomato or 3 microdwarf tomatoes in a 5 gallon pot. Some microdwarfs like Tumbler Cherry make great hanging basket plants. 

Just a few varieties include Tiny Tim (Heirloom/OP), Tumbler (F1 Hybrid), Subarctic (Heirloom/OP, cold tolerance), and Whippersnapper (Heirloom/OP). While many dwarf tomatoes are cherry tomatoes, some dwarfs like Kalinka have full-size fruit. 

You can also check out early tomatoes like Early Girl, which mature in 50 – 70 days. 

Pro tip: If frost is imminent and you’ve still got a lot of green tomatoes on the vines, harvest the green tomatoes and put them in a sunbeam. The sun exposure will ripen them like magic.

Fast-Blooming Flowers

#7 Calendula (Calendula officinalis) – 45 Days To Bloom

  • Family: Asteraceae
  • Germination: 6 to 14 days
  • Days to Maturity: 45 – 56 days
  • Light Requirement: Full Sun to Part Shade
calendula marigold
Calendula is a fast-growing flower that attracts pollinators to your garden.

Calendula is a garden staple for many reasons – it’s easy to grow, attracts pollinators, self-seeds, deters deers, survives drought and heat, and even lasts through a few light frosts. It truly is a sow-it-and-leave-it kind of flower, although they benefit from deadheading and pinching back for bushier growth. 

You can cut the flowers for bouquets, use the flowers in soups and stews, or dry the petals for tea and baking. Dried calendula petals are used in ointments to treat burns, bruises, and cuts and to reduce skin inflammation. 

But while calendula is sometimes called pot marigold, it is not actually marigold (Tagetes patula), which are often recommended to deter flea beetles. Instead, calendula is beneficial in repelling pest nematodes, so they make a useful companion to your tomatoes.

#8 Sweet Alyssum (Lobularia maritima) – 50 Days To Bloom

  • Family: Brassicaceae
  • Germination: 5 – 15 days
  • Days to Maturity: 50 – 60 days
  • Light Requirement: Full Sun to Part Shade 
sweet alyssum
Sweet Alyssym is a Brassica crop that matures fast and can tolerate partial shade.

Sweet alyssum blooms so fast that they may even start blooming while in their starter pot. Alyssum produces clusters of tiny white flowers that are a favorite among pollinators, and this flower looks amazing in hanging baskets.

However, sweet alyssum is a prolific self-seeder. Great for continuous blooms, not so great in keeping it from invading everywhere else in your yard, your neighbors’ yards, and the wild. It is invasive. So if you decide to grow alyssum, pick a sterile variety like Snow Princess. Not only is that better for your native flora, but you get even more blossoms because it’s not putting energy into all those seeds.

Sweet alyssum is a little drought-hardy, although it grows best with consistent moisture. Deadhead regularly to keep sweet alyssum producing. They suffer in the heat, so plant them where they can benefit from shade from other plants. As a brassica, alyssum is a prime target of flea beetles, although planting it with mint or marigold may help deter them.

#9 Phlox (Phlox drummondii) – 50 Days To Bloom

  • Family: Polemoniaceae
  • Germination: 5 to 21 days
  • Days to Maturity: 50 – 65 days
  • Light Requirement: Full Sun (Tall Garden Phlox), Part Sun, Part Shade (Woodland), Shade
Phlox is a fast growing perennial flower that can tolerate some shade.

While the other plants on this list are annuals, the garden favorite phlox is a versatile perennial. Like zinnia, there’s so many different phlox that they can fill all your needs, from creeping phlox as ground cover to tall phlox as statement flowers. There’s even many species native to North America!

Phlox likes rich, moist soil, so mix in a 2 to 4 inch layer of compost into the soil. It’s easier to start phlox from a root cutting rather than from seed. You can improve germination rates by keeping the containers in a cool, dark spot until they germinate, then move them to a sunny spot. Start them in biodegradable pots rather than plastic as their roots are sensitive to disturbance.

#10 Zinnia (Zinnia elegans) – 60 Days To Bloom

  • Family: Asteraceae
  • Germination: 5 – 24 days
  • Days to Maturity: Full Sun
  • Light Requirement: Full Sun
Zinnia is a beautiful and fast-growing flower in the Aster family.

Zinnias are the pinnacle of cut garden flowers, and lucky for us, they’re easy to grow and they bloom quickly. While there are many other worthy Zinnia species, the most popular for cut flowers is Zinnia elegans. This species includes a wide array of flower types (single, semidouble, and double), shapes (beehive, button, cactus), and sizes. You really have your choice, and the hardest part may be in not buying all the seeds. 

Once they bloom, cut the flowers to bring inside, as cutting will encourage them to produce more flowers. Win-win. They’ll keep producing flowers until the first frost. Water at the base of the plant rather than overhead to prevent powdery mildew.

#11 Nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus, T. minus) – 60 Days To Bloom

  • Family: Tropaeolaceae
  • Germination: 7 to 10 days
  • Days to Maturity: 60 days
  • Light Requirement: Full Sun to Part Sun
flowers nasturtium
Nasturtium is a flower that grows fast and has edible leaves, flowers, and seed pods.

Nasturtium is another flower that’s both a beautiful bloom and a tasty salad addition. You can eat the leaves, flowers, and seed pods, all of which have a peppery taste. Just pick them and toss them onto a salad. They also attract pollinators like bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds.

You can find two types of nasturtiums: bush (T. minus) and trailing/climbing (T. majus). Bush nasturtiums grow compactly while trailing/climbing nasturtiums form long vines that you can either trellis or leave to hang over baskets.

Regularly deadhead them to encourage them to keep blooming (if you’re not already harvesting them for salads). They may also stop producing flowers in high heat. Keep the soil moist during high heat to help them out. They’re also a great introduction in seed-saving, as it’s easy to collect their chickpea-size seeds to replant the next year.


Just because you’re late in the season, or have a short growing season to begin with, doesn’t mean you can’t grow tasty vegetables or beautiful blooms with these 11 vegetables and flowers that grow quickly from seed.

You can find even more fast-growing vegetables here.

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Jon M

Hi, I'm Jon. Let's solve your gardening problems, spend more time growing, and get the best harvest every year!

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