Plant of the Month: Arborvitae

Arborvitae are evergreens suitable for a wide variety of uses in the garden. Larger growing varieties, like Green Giant, are excellent replacements for Leyland Cypress. Lower growing varieties, like North Pole, are perfect for smaller areas in the garden, near patios, walkways and driveways without the worry of surface roots causing damage. Dwarf varieties, like Tater Tot and Hetzi, are lovely in containers as well as garden borders and foundation applications.


Full Sun, at least 6 hours a day.

Water – Arborvitaes prefer to stay evenly moist. Soil that stays too wet can lead to root rot. While more established plants can be drought tolerant, newer plantings shouldn’t be allowed to dry out.

Soil – Well draining with a pH between 6.0 and 8.0

Fertilizing – Fertilize once in spring, when new growth has begun to emerge and again in early to mid fall with a tree and shrub fertilizer.

Pruning – Arborvitaes don’t require much pruning other than occasional shaping (if needed) and the removal of damaged or dead limbs. Pruning can be done any time from mid-winter to early summer.

Please Note

Arborvitaes experience a natural “shed” in spring and fall. This causes the center foliage of the plant to turn brown and fall off. Arborvitae will regenerate this lost growth so there is no need for alarm. You can help this shedding process by, with gloved hands, massaging the dead foliage out of the plant.

If an arborvitae is planted in too much shade or stays too wet, this natural process occurs more dramatically and the plant may not recover

Green Giant Arborvitae Forming a Privacy Fence

Varieties We Love:

  • Green Giant – 30’-40’ tall and 8’-12’ wide at maturity, pyramidal shape. Use as screen shrubs and windbreaks, excellent replacement for declining Leyland Cypress.
  • North Pole – 10’-15’ tall and 3’-5’ wide at maturity, pyramidal shape. Use as screen shrubs, windbreaks or framing a view.
  • Emerald Green – 12’-15’ tall and 2’-3’ wide at maturity pyramidal shape. Use as screen shrubs, windbreaks or framing a view.
  • Hetzi Midget – 3’-4’ tall and wide, global shape. Does well in garden beds and containers.
  • Fire Chief – 2’-4’ tall and wide, global shape. Foliage transitions from yellow to orange to red throughout the year.  Does well in garden beds, containers or as a specimen planting.
  • Tater Tot – 1’-2’ tall and wide, global shape. Does well in garden beds and containers.