Eastern Arborvitae (White Cedar)

Thuja occidentalis
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Plant type: conifer
Zone: 3 to 7



Eastern arborvitae is a needled evergreen that usually has a pyramidal form and grows 20 to 30 feet tall. Its branches are arranged in horizontal sprays (unlike those of Thuja orientalis), which has vertical sprays). It's used widely as a specimen plant, in groupings, as screens, and as a corner plant in foundation plantings. In winter the normally green needles turn yellowish-brownish-green. Give this shrub or tree a moist, deep, well-drained site in full sun. Once established, it tolerates some heat and drought.

Selected cultivars:

  • 'Yellow Ribbon.' The new growth is yellow, maturing to green. Horizontal sprays seem topsy-turvy, so when the shrub is in full color, the fronds form interesting, curly patternings. Mature size is 10 feet tall by three feet wide.

  • 'Sunkist'. Yellow variegation. Mature size is five to eight feet tall.

  • 'Aurea'. Broad, short shrub with golden-yellow needles. Mature size is about three feet square.

  • 'Techny'. Foliage is dark green all year, holding its color through winter. 10 to 15 feet tall.

  • 'Chalet'. Lime-green foliage. 10 to 15 feet tall.

  • 'Emerald'. Foliage is a bright, rich green year-round. Heat tolerant and coldy hardy to -40 degrees F. 10 to 15 feet tall by three to four feet wide.


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