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Do you ever look under your thuja? I must confess I don't do that very often, especially since my four thujas have grown so big and bushy. But this summer I checked the ground under them more frequently during the drought, and that was my good fortune: I was rewarded with a few dozen of thuja seedlings down there!
My thujas were grown from seeds that I sowed many years ago, before I ever knew I'd have a garden where to plant them. I was just curious to see how a thuja would grow from seed and I got four of them. Later I sowed one more - just before my grandson was born - which I planted one year later, as my grandson's tree, to celebrate his first birthday. When the first four thujas were still shorter than me, I planted pansies around them, but as they grew bushier, no pansy popped out from the seeds anymore in that spot. Those I planted didn't survive without the needed light. In fact, nothing else seemed to survive beneath the thujas, although the shade they provided was keeping the moisture for a longer time than the rest of the garden.
Last year, one of the thujas (the most poorly looking) produced many seed pods. They say it's a sign of stress and I felt sorry for the poor tree. I started to water it more and managed to have a bushy tree this summer, even if it suffered during the hard winter and dry summer. Watering was good not only for the thujas, but also for a few other plants which popped out from seeds around them, a mirabilis, a calendula and a few columbines. They grew very well and even bloomed all summer long. One day I saw a nasty weed growing between those plants and, when I bent down to pull it out, I noticed a few tiny thuja seedlings hiding down there. I probably don't need to tell you how happy I was! I started to count them and they were no less than forty - perfect for a hedge around my house to protect us from the strong winds, especially the blizzards. That sounded like a plan! I had been thinking for some time about having a hedge like that, but I couldn't possibly have afforded to buy so many bushes. These seedlings were a gift!
A few days later I dug out the seedlings, then planted each of them in small plastic pots. Although the thujas are conifers which are drought and freeze resistant, the thuja seedlings wouldn't have made it outside during the winter. I had to be very careful when digging them out. Their roots were deep and thin and not very straight, which made digging difficult. The roots had made their way through the dry soil as well as they could, sometimes obliquely. I had to stick my knife very gently inside the ground, a few inches farther from the seedling, after cleaning the ground from the dry thuja leaves; this way I could see where the seedling came out from the ground. The best way to dig out a seedling is to dig out all its rootball. But this doesn't always happen, especially when digging in almost-dry ground. I managed to cut some of the roots in the process, but not so badly - they still had enough branch roots on them to feed the plant.
I had all forty small plastic pots already filled with soil, so potting went fast. As soon as I dug one seedling out, it went immediately into its pot. After potting all the seedlings, I carried the small pots with my little treasures inside the conservatory, where they are going to stay until next spring when they will be strong enough to be planted outside. In the meantime, they will need repotting and, probably, relocation, as they will grow bigger. But I'm not worried, I have enough room on all the window sills in my home where I can put all the pots. I sadly have to announce that they aren't going to be forty anymore, but thirty nine, because one didn't survive. I knew it was a root I accidentally damaged, but I was hoping it would survive anyway. But it's okay, I think they will be more than enough for my hedges. Next spring I'll have lots of digging to do for burying 39 young thujas. I've already did the measures for the hedges, considering four feet spacing between the thujas and it's perfect. Now I just need to take very good care of my thuja seedlings and grow them healthy and bushy until next spring. This means I will have a lot of gardening activity this winter. Good for me!
About Adina Dosan
I'm a Romanian plants and pets addicted, always happy to share my experience.