One way species of low maximum height can accrue sufficient light income to persist in vegetation is via rapid height growth immediately following disturbance. By surveying patches of known time since fire, we reconstructed height–growth trajectories for 19 post-fire recruiting species from fire-prone vegetation in south-eastern Australia. Cross-species patterns of height growth were compared to several plant traits thought to influence height strategy, including leaf mass per area, stem tissue density, stem diameter and capacity to resprout. Shorter species were found to temporarily outpace taller species, both as resprouters and within reseeders. Among reseeders, a single axis of variation summarised patterns of height–growth, time to onset of reproduction and longevity. This axis was tightly correlated with maximum height, leaf mass per area and stem diameter at a given height. These results illustrate how a range of height strategies can coexist in fire-prone vegetation, via the time-process initiated by disturbance.