Friday, December 4, 2015
Meet The Arborvitae - Thuja
December is a time of year where the often overlooked evergreens begin to get some much deserved attention. Being a cool December day it seems like the perfect time to tell you more about some of the different type of Arborvitae (Thuja) that you can consider for your landscape. They provide wonderful year round color, screening, privacy, wind breaks, focal points and even places to hang our Christmas ornaments! In general they are slow growers so if using them for privacy screening or hedgerow remember it will take time for them to fill in and reach the height you desire. Arborvitae can be planted in full sun or partial shade and grow in most soil types, though they seem to thrive in slightly acidic soil.
The Arborvitae is often referred to as a "Tree of Life", most varieties have a majestic appearance when full grown. Native Americans are recorded to have used all parts of the trees for not only construction reasons but also many health benefits. Baskets, Totem poles, Canoes and vessels were all crafted from the timber. The oils have preservative qualities that help prevent/protect wood from rotting or fading in the sunlight. The essential oils of the Arborvitae are concentrated and marketed to be used for various reasons. The oils can also be applied directly to your skin and used as a natural insect repellent.
Below is a list of some varieties you may find here in North America:
The Arborvitae Nigra "Thuja occidentalis Nigra" is a hardy, relatively low maintenance tree and takes pruning well. It makes an excellent vertical accent, wind or privacy screen, natural fence or hedge.
Image Citation: Richard Webb, Bugwood.org
The Arborvitae Golden Globe "Thuja occidentalis 'Golden Globe'" is a Globe-shaped arborvitae for use as a hedge, screen, or specimen plant. It has a more unique and less common Golden yellow foliage.
The Arborvitae Green Giant "Thuja standishii x plicata 'Green Giant" is a large, vigorous, fast growing evergreen. It's natural pyramidal to conical form boasts dense, rich green foliage that darkens or bronzes only a little in the winter. This is an exceptional landscape tree for use as a screen, hedge, windbreak, or even specimen planting. It is tolerant of a wide variety of soils, but prefers moist, well drained soil, sun to partial shade. It is wind resistant once established and withstands heavy ice or snow loads. Under good growing conditions, it can grow up to 3' a year to a height of 50'-60' with a 12'-20' spread.
Image Citation: Jason Sharman, Vitalitree, Bugwood.org
The American Arborvitae, "American Thuja occidentalis" is a narrow, pyramid shape makes it a natural choice for windbreaks. Tall and elegant, it requires almost no care when used as a hedge or screen. Pairs of these hardy trees make great accents for doors and garden gates while single (well maintained) specimens soften house corners. Single specimens can grow to 40'-60' with a spread of up to 15' in the wild, but 20'-30' with a 12' spread in urban settings is more typical.
Image Citation: Paul Wray, Iowa State University, Bugwood.org
Although most varieties of Arborvitae grow in any climate, certain varieties grow better in each hardiness zone. When you are selecting/purchasing your Arborvitae, research the climate zones where it will flourish compared to the zone you live in. This will make caring for your Arborvitae a much easier process as the tree will require less maintenance.
Arborvitae are beautiful when grown next to each other, they make a great hedge or natural fence, if they are properly spaced when planted. Planting them too close together will prevent them from growing as they should because they will all be competing for the same minerals and nutrients in the soil, while planting to far apart may not give you the privacy you desire. Check your varieties growth habits before planting to see how far apart they should be placed.