Thuja - Arborvitae & False Cedars

Thuja, also known as Arborvitae or cedars, are widely planted as screens or hedges. Two of the five Thuja species are native to the United States, and their cultivars and hybrids are sought after for homeowner, commercial, and public landscaping.

Thuja occidentalis, (Eastern whitecedar or American arborvitae) is native to eastern Canada and the northeastern United States. It is a medium-sized tree growing to 50’ tall. Its close relative, Thuja plicata (Western redcedar or Western arborvitae), is native to the Pacific Northwest and is a much larger tree that grows to 230’ high. Both of these arborvitae are important for their timber that is used for roofing, siding, fencing, and cedar chests and closets because of their insect repelling and rot-resistant properties. They are also excellent landscape trees, and a wide selection of colors, shapes and sizes that have been developed that enhance any property. Even though they are sometimes referred to a “cedars”, they belong to the Cypress family and are not related to “true cedars” of the Pine family.

Arborvitae foliage is made up of a series of small, tight, overlapping scales on flat, fan-shaped branchlets. Depending on the variety, they can be dark green, blue-green to a bright golden yellow. Small, ovoid, quarter to half inch, brown seed cones form in clusters on the branches and ripen by fall. Arborvitae grow best in full sun to light shade in average to fertile, well-draining loam. Thuja plicata, the Western redcedar, can handle more moisture in the soil than Thuja occidentalis, the Eastern redcedar.

The hardiness of these trees are USDA zones 2 through 7 depending on the type of Arborvitae. Check the description to make sure that you are choosing a tree appropriate for your hardiness zone. Select one of the tall-growing, conical varieties if you are planning a visual screen or windbreak, or a dense, upright variety that can be sheared into a hedge, or already prepared sections of Arborvitae InstantHedge. Small, mounding Thuja do well in borders, rock gardens, or urban gardens. If you have questions or need help deciding which variety would be best for your garden, don’t hesitate to ask. We’re here to help!