A plant is often slow growing because something's wrong - it could be in the wrong place, in the wrong type of soil, exposed to too much sun or shade, inadequately fed or watered, or suffering from a pest or disease attack.


Some plants, though, are simply naturally slow to mature, and may take several years to flower or to reach their desired size. In the meantime, you can enjoy the small victories such as new leaves, or the first flowers.

If it's quick colour and fast growth you need, browse our selection of vigorous plants.

In them meantime, here are 10 slow-growing plants that like to take their time.


Japanese maples are well-established slow-growers. This combined with their small stature makes them particularly suited to small gardens. You'll find plenty of acer species in our Plant Finder.

More like this
Japanese maple Acer palmatum
Red Japanese maple leaves

Royal ferns

Royal ferns (Osmunda regalis) are deciduous, dying back to the roots each year. Clumps take a while to expand, but once they have, the display is one of magnificent, lush greenery. Discover more advice in our grow guide to ferns.

Royal ferns Osmunda regalis
Lush green royal fern foliage


Daphnes are slow-growing, but in time in they'll produce some of the most richly scented flowers you can find. Plant them somewhere that they can remain indefinitely; they resent any root disturbance so will be tricky to replant.

Daphne x transatlantica Pink Fragrance
Daphne 'Pink Fragrance' in bloom

Cacti and succulents

Most cacti and many succulents are slow-growers, originating from places where growing conditions are much harsher, making fast, vigorous growth harder to support. It makes it all the more rewarding when you sustain them for years to produce marvellous globose or columnar specimens. Take a look at these houseplants for sunny spots, for ideas.

Notocactus magnificus
A cluster of globes of Notocactus magnificus


Most conifers are slow-growing, with the exception of leylandii and thuja. There are some lovely examples to consider, including the Korean fir (pictured) or our native yew.

Korean fir Abies koreana
Korean fir bearing cones


Azaleas are acid-loving plants are renowned for their colourful flowers. They can be deciduous or evergreen, plus, many have fragrant blooms to enjoy. If you prefer something less showy, check out species like Rhododendron viscosum and Rhododendron serpyllifolium.

Azalea viscosum Misummer Wedding
White azalea 'Midsummer Wedding' flowers


Hakonechloa macra grows in slowly expanding clumps that look beautiful beneath the shade of shrubs and trees, eventually becoming a carpet of green. Discover more foliage plants for shade.

Hakonechloa macra Aureola
Golden clumps of Hakonechloa macra 'Aureola'


Ginkgo biloba trees are considered living fossils, having been on the planet, unchanged, for at least 270 million years. Though they can eventually reach a very large size, its slow-growing habit and disease resistance make it a popular tree.

Ginkgo biloba
Fan-shaped leaves of the ginko tree


Barberries (berberis) are some of the least demanding shrubs you can grow. You'll find evergreen and deciduous types offering colourful berries and flowers that only get better and better as plants mature. They make good burglar-proof hedges, too.

Berberis thunbergii f atropurpurea Harlequin
Pink and burgundy tiny leaves of barberry 'Harlequin'


Thalictrums are elegant perennials, many of which enjoy growing in shade. Lots of thalictrums have pretty flowers that look like miniature starbursts – Thalictrum ichangense and Thalictrum filamentosum will give you a good idea of this.

Thalictrum delavayi Splendide
Starry pink flowers of Thalictrum delavayi 'Splendide'


Once planted, peonies have been known to take years to establish and flower, particularly if they have been planted too deeply. The flowers are fabulous, though, and make them more than worth the wait. Find out how to plant peonies.

Peony 'Coral Charm'
A beautiful coral-pink bloom of peony 'Coral Charm'

Don't neglect your plants

These plants might grow slowly, but that doesn't mean they don't need any care. Keep them fed and watered, and keep an eye out for any pests, to be rewarded with healthy, albeit leisurely, growth.