When choosing plant specimens to grow as fast-growing hedges in Florida, it is important to consider that the state has four growing zones; North Florida, Central Florida, South Florida and Tropical Florida. Central Florida is milder than North Florida and experiences hot summers and mild winters. Most soils in Florida are sandy but North Florida also has clay-based soils, according to University of Florida Extension. Soil type should inform the type of shrubs you select.
Snail seed (Cocculus laurifolius) is a fast-growing evergreen shrub and makes an ideal hedge plant for South Florida, according to the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden in Coral Gables. It can reach 12 feet high and when trimmed forms a dark, informal hedge that provides and a good backdrop for flowering shrubs and palms. Leaves are a narrow oval shape, around 3 inches long with three prominent veins. Snail seed produces tiny yellow flower and black berries and will grow in sun or partial shade. It grows well in a variety of soil types, according to University of Florida Extension.
This species is a fast-growing variety that can reach 15 to 20 feet within a few years. As an evergreen shrub, its large shiny dark leaves provide an attractive all-year-round backdrop for Florida’s native flowering plants. It occasionally produces clusters of berries in the fall. Chindo viburnum (Viburnum awabuki) thrives in moist well-drained soils but is also drought tolerant and this makes it suitable to plant in Central Florida which can experience hot summers.
Suitable for dry, sandy soils, thorny eleagnus (Eleagnus pungens) is an ideal fast-growing shrub to plant in Florida. It has a vigorous growing habit and can reach 10 to 15 feet high. This variety is particularly good for coastal homes as it is tolerant of salt spray, notes North Carolina State University Extension. Leaves are thick, reaching 4 inches in length, and yellow-white flowers bloom in the fall and winter. It is a very hardy and grows naturally in woody areas and stream banks in southeastern United States.