Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: White Cedar, Eastern Arborvitae, American Arborvitae, Northern White Cedar
Thuja occidentalis

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Family: Cupressaceae (koo-press-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Thuja (THOO-yuh) (Info)
Species: occidentalis (ok-sih-den-TAY-liss) (Info)

5 vendors have this plant for sale.

11 members have or want this plant for trade.

Category:
Trees
Conifers

Height:
over 40 ft. (12 m)

Spacing:
8-10 ft. (2.4-3 m)

Hardiness:
USDA Zone 2a: to -45.5 C (-50 F)
USDA Zone 2b: to -42.7 C (-45 F)
USDA Zone 3a: to -39.9 C (-40 F)
USDA Zone 3b: to -37.2 C (-35 F)
USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)
USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)
USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)
USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)
USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)
USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun

Danger:
Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Color:
Red
Brown/Bronze

Bloom Time:
Late Winter/Early Spring

Foliage:
Grown for foliage
Evergreen

Other details:
This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Soil pH requirements:
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:
Non-patented

Propagation Methods:
From seed; sow indoors before last frost

Seed Collecting:
Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds

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There are a total of 12 photos.
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Profile:

4 positives
4 neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

RatingAuthorContent
Neutral coriaceous On Mar 12, 2014, coriaceous from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:

A very popular upright, broadly pyramidal evergreen tree. There are numerous cultivars, most chosen for having a narrower, more columnar habit than the species, and some also for their foliage color.

It's tough, vigorous, adaptable, and fast-growing. In nature, it occurs in swamps and moist places, and once established, it will tolerate both drought and temporary flooding. It performs best in moist, well-drained, fertile soil in full sun. It's often said to be shade tolerant, but I don't find that it will tolerate more than light shade.

In the wild, this tree can reach 60', but in cultivation a mature height of 30' is more common.

In winter, the foliage often acquires sickly yellow-brown tones. Some cultivars (especially 'Techny', 'Nigra', and 'Emerald') have much greener winter color and are very popular for it.

This tree's two most important limitations in the landscape are its susceptibility to deer browse and its vulnerability to snow and ice damage. The columnar cultivars are more vulnerable to the latter than the species. In Montreal, only the species seemed to be available in the nurseries, and I never saw any damage. Here in Boston, I only see the cultivars, and snow damage is very common. Tying the trunks together for the winter can help prevent damage.

Personally, I think Chamaecyparis obtusa is a better specimen tree for my climate. If I want something columnar, I'll use Thuja occidentalis 'DeGroot's Spire'.

In pruning, I've never seen a branch regenerate once it's been cut back so hard it has no foliage.

Thuja occidentalis does not grow well in the hot summers of the eastern US south of Z7. The broader trees mentioned below as growing in Florida are the more heat-tolerant Asian species, Platycladus (Thuja) orientalis.

Neutral gardenerLew On Dec 5, 2011, gardenerLew from Greene, ME wrote:

I am surprised that no one has mentioned any problems with deer and these beautiful shrubs. Here, they are winter salad for deer who defoliate the plants right to the stubs.

Lovely plants, but not workable here in rural Maine.

Positive Treehand On Dec 13, 2007, Treehand from Madrid, NY wrote:

Here in northern NY state, along the St Lawrence river, this cedar is an important native species. In the 1970's we would clear small trees from farmer's fields and gather them in large amounts, then trim the small limbs off with machetes and home-made "cedar knives". These trimmings were then taken to cedar oil rigs (which consisted of a boiler that sent steam up through a sealed tank of cedar brush) where the oil was gathered in a cooling vat. It floated on top of a tank of water and was skimmed off, weighed and then sold by the pound. Top prices were around $20/lb. Deer were less plentiful, so young trees grew rapidly and gave us a way to keep farmers happy clearing what they considered "brush" to get spending money. The wood is excellent to work with- arromatic, light yet strong and very rot resistant. The most popular choice here for fence posts. One of the few evergreens that will regenerate branches if they are pruned off.

Neutral TREEHUGR On Dec 5, 2004, TREEHUGR from Now in Orlando, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

It just goes to show... Don't put too much weight on the zone range because these are planted all over my area. And are fairly easy to find in garden centers. As already mentioned, they appear much more wide here than up north. These are almost always planted in a row along a fence or beside a driveway but they just don't look the same as back north. I would probably try out a cultivar that is supposed to grow narrow and I generally like these but there are alternatives for sure.

Positive melody On Nov 18, 2004, melody from Benton, KY (Zone 7a) wrote:

Another name that this tree has is Arbor Vitae. A Latinized French name meaning Tree Of Life.. It was so named after curing Jacques Cartier's men of a disease...probably Scurvy. As a result of this incident, it was the first tree imported from America to Europe.

Over 50 varieties are now in cultivation. It was also used by the Native Americans and is known as Canoewood. Thin slabs of the wood were prepared by pounding the ends of short logs until they seperated along annual rings.

The durable wood is light and soft. One of the main woods used for cedar shingles.

Lots of wildlife make use of the trees for shelter and food.

Positive lmelling On Oct 30, 2004, lmelling from Ithaca, NY (Zone 5b) wrote:

I purchased two of these 7 years ago when they were about 2' tall, onefor either side of our garage door. We didn't know when we planted them that deer loved them - we found out soon enough. Although we cover these with a fence and netting each year it is taking a long time for them to come back from the severe browsing they took that first winter.

They are only about 4' - 5' tall now, perhaps it's because they are planted in shade (north side of house) and only get summer evening sun. They're also in heavy clay soil. For that reason, and the fact that large or small, they're still pretty - I give them a positive rating.

Neutral tcfromky On Oct 29, 2004, tcfromky from Mercer, PA (Zone 5a) wrote:

Prefers a deep, well-drained soil. When established it can withstand considerable heat and drought. Often used for hedges or for windbreaks or for year around screening. Also used as an accent tree for yards. Can grow to 40'.

Positive TerriFlorida On Oct 12, 2003, TerriFlorida from Plant City, FL wrote:

I know this plant because I grew it at my old place about 40 miles from where I now live, and I believe I just bought another one tagged 'white cedar.' In Betrock's Guide to Florida Landscape Plants it is listed as Platycladus orientalis, max height 20', grows through zones 5 to 10b, has wide soil requirements which in this book means poor to good, mildly acid to mildly alkaline. I know from experience that one does not plant it 3' from a structure as that side of the plant will be bare due to low light. :-)

The other big mistake I see people do is to plant one to either side of their driveways. Invariably they plant them too close together. Either they must remove one or both, or they prune them up so that they drive through a not too attractive tunnel. These large shrubs or small trees grow here usually in a squat vase shape, so that they are less than half again as tall as they are wide. They look best in full sun, as specimen plants surrounded by adoring perennials and small shrubs.

Regional...

This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

,
Tulare, California
Quaker Hill, Connecticut
Campbell, Florida
Port Saint Lucie, Florida
The Villages, Florida
Clarkesville, Georgia
Glen Ellyn, Illinois
Darnestown, Maryland
Acton, Massachusetts
Roslindale, Massachusetts
Grand Rapids, Michigan
Minneapolis, Minnesota (2 reports)
Gulfport, Mississippi
Airport Drive, Missouri
Piedmont, Missouri
Cayuga Heights, New York
Madrid, New York
Marietta, New York
Willsboro, New York
Efland, North Carolina
Bucyrus, Ohio
Cleveland, Ohio
Fruit Hill, Ohio
Saint Martin, Ohio
Downingtown, Pennsylvania
Marshalls Creek, Pennsylvania
Tionesta, Pennsylvania
El Paso, Texas
Princeton, West Virginia
Kewaskum, Wisconsin



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