Arborvitae trees, such as emerald green arborvitae and other varieties, are evergreen coniferous trees or shrubs which is often used as hedges, screens, windbreaks and accents.Find facts and information on growing and caring for Thuja occidentalis varieties and a list of popular varieties.
Arborvitae Tree Facts and Information
Arborvitae trees, especially Thuja occidentalis (Eastern arborvitae) is a member of the Cypress family (Cupressaceae). The white cedars grow up to 40’high x 10-15’ wide. They are tall and skinny by nature and are popular for privacy screens and garden focal points. Arborvitaes are fairly slow growers often 8-12” a year. The eastern arbovitae forms a thin, dense pyramid of leaves when young. White cedar is a popular type of wood used for garden benches and other types of outdoor furniture (although the specific variety varies).
The evergreen, scalelike, yellow-green, shiny leaves are aromatic and arranged in level sprays. Some cultivars maintain their color year round, but some species and cultivars become bronzed in winter. The ruddy brown bark often shreds into vertical strips. It is worth noting that the flowers and tiny cones are not ornamental. Thuja occidentalis is found in moist woods and mountain slopes of eastern North America.
Growing Arborvitae Trees
You will find these varieties hardy in Zones 3-7, depending upon the specific variety. They require full sun, and a rich, moist, well-drained soil. They can, however, tolerate moist to swampy soils unlike yews.
Early summer is the perfect time to shear arbovitae, which can produce new growth on old wood. If you need to remove whole branches, you can do that at any time. Although this plant grows best in colder climates, some tall forms split under the weight of snow and ice. Deer love this plant, so consider that if you have a problem with deer in your area. It may also be attacked by bagworms and red spider mites.
Thuja occidentalis Varieties
Thuja occidentalis ’Smaragd’ (Emerald arborvitae, emerald green arborvitae) one of the most popular arborvitae trees, has a green winter color, fine texture,is slow growing, and is a good hedging plant. It also will tolerate partial shade and grows 10-15’h c 3-4’ in Zone 4. It is definitely worth considering planting into your landscape.
Thuja occidentalis ‘Techny’ is a nice hedging plant with a wide base when young. It remains green year round and grows 10-15’ h x 6-8’ w.
Thuja occidentalis ‘DeGroot’s Spire’ with twisted, fanlike foliage on a skinny cone, good specimen. 10’h x 2-3’ w. and grows in Zone 4.
T. occidentalis ‘Golden Globe’ golden foliage on globular plant, doesn’t burn in full sun. 4’ h and w.
T. occidentalis ‘Hetz Midget’ with dense globe that doesn’t need any pruning. It grows 3-4’ h and w.
T. occidentalis ‘Holmstrup’ stays green through winter and grows 10’h x 3-4’ w. In Zone 4.
T. occidentalis ‘Mr. Bowling Ball’ a versatile, sage-green dwarf sphere that needs no pruning. 3’ tall and wide in Zone 5.
‘Nigra’ is a popular cultivar in the Northeast, retains dark green color all winter and grows 10-30- h x 10-12’ wide.
‘Rheingold’ has gold leaves that turn copper in winter, good for low hedging or accents reaching 4-5’.
‘Teddy’ is a blue-green globe takes on bronzy tint in winter. It grows to 1’h x 2’ w.