White Cedar, Eastern Arborvitae, American Arborvitae, Northern White Cedar

Thuja occidentalis

Family: Cupressaceae (koo-press-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Thuja (THOO-yuh) (Info)
Species: occidentalis (ok-sih-den-TAY-liss) (Info)
View this plant in a garden




Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Characteristics:

This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds

Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us


over 40 ft. (12 m)


8-10 ft. (2.4-3 m)


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


Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Color:



Bloom Time:

Late Winter/Early Spring


Grown for foliage


Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

Soil pH requirements:

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

From seed; sow indoors before last frost

Seed Collecting:

Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds


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


Tulare, California

Quaker Hill, Connecticut

Kissimmee, Florida

Lady Lake, Florida

Port Saint Lucie, Florida

Clarkesville, Georgia

Glen Ellyn, Illinois

Gaithersburg, Maryland

Acton, Massachusetts

Roslindale, Massachusetts

Grand Rapids, Michigan

Minneapolis, Minnesota (2 reports)

Gulfport, Mississippi

Joplin, Missouri

Piedmont, Missouri

Ithaca, New York

Madrid, New York

Marietta, New York

Willsboro, New York

Efland, North Carolina

Bucyrus, Ohio

Cincinnati, Ohio

Cleveland, Ohio

Lynchburg, Ohio

Downingtown, Pennsylvania

Marshalls Creek, Pennsylvania

Tionesta, Pennsylvania

El Paso, Texas

Princeton, West Virginia

Kewaskum, Wisconsin

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Gardeners' Notes:


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 '... read more


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.


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 v... read more


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.


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.


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.


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'.


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 ... read more