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Arborvitae Tree Care

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Cupressaceae, Thuja Orientalis

Belonging to the evergreen family, Arborvitaes are native to eastern Asia and North America. They are identified by their small, scalelike leaves on flattened branches. There are many varieties, with the largest growing over 60-65 feet. Among the most common is the Oriental Arborvitae from China, American Arborvitae, Northern White Cedar and Western Red cedar which originated in North America. All varieties of Arborvitae are classified as members of the Cypress family.

Coming in a variety of shapes and sizes, homeowners love aromatic Arborvitae. It is one of the most popular foundation plants, and is extremely popular as a fencing or hedgerow plant.

Arborvitaes are easy to grow, and fast growing. Once planted, they require little care and maintenance. An annual pruning keeps the plants in a desirable shape. Arborvitae benefit from providing some winter protection against damage from ice and snow, as well as foraging deer.

Did you know? Arborvitae leaves were once used as a remedy for Rheumatism.

A tree or a shrub? Arborvitaes are classified as trees. But, it is okay, if you refer to them as shrubs.

Long lived: The average life expectancy of arborvitae tree 50 to 150 years. . In later years, the tree begins to look unsightly.


How to Grow Arborvitaes:

Arborvitae trees are easy to grow and maintain. Established trees thrive for many years, with only an annual pruning. The plants tolerate bot acidic and alkaline soils. They prefer slightly acidic soil, and grow in a variety of soils, from clay to sandy loam. Moist, well draining soil is preferred, but they will tolerate extremes. Arborvitae grow well in full sun or partial shade.

Most arborvitae trees are grown as foundation plants around homes and buildings, or a hedgerow or fence rows. After selecting a location, dig a hole deep and wide. Mix generous amounts of compost with soil from the hole. Set the plant in the hole and fill with soil and compost. Peat moss works well, if you do not have any compost. Lightly tamp the soil lightly. Water generously after planting. Promote new root growth, by keeping the soil moist for the first few weeks after transplanting.

Mulch around plants, to help retain soil moisture, and for a neat and tidy appearance.


Pruning Arborvitae Trees:

Once established, your arborvitae will grow with little care for years. The biggest task is pruning. While people tend to prune them a few times a year, pruning is best done once a year, in the fall or early winter. If pruned in the summer, the tips of the pruned branches can turn an unsightly brown. If pruning can not be done in the fall or winter, do so early in the season, while new growth is still appearing.


Propagation:

 New Arborvitae plants are propagated by seed or cuttings.

When growing from seed, collect seeds in the fall. Start in peat pots indoors in early spring, or sow directly into a seedbed outdoors. Transplant seedlings into a garden several weeks later.  

To grow from cuttings, cut a 4-5 inch branch of new growth. Strip away the lower leaves. Plant in coarse, well draining sand. Keep the soil most.


Winter Protection for Arborvitae

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Unprotected With Shrub Guard

In cold climates, it's beneficial to provide winter protection for Arborvitae. Snow and ice buildup can damage or break individual branches, or the whole tree.  Shrub protection against foraging deer, and rabbits is also important.

Many people use burlap to cover the plants. It's effective, but unsightly. It can also cause mold and mildew on the plant. 

Another alternative is heavy duty, multi-strand netting. The netting is made of UV protected material, and will last for years. Green netting results in a barely visible protection against animals, as well as winter protection from breakage of individual branches, when snow and ice buildup is a problem. It offers good air circulation, minimizing the likelihood of plant molds.

Buy shrub and tree deer and winter protection now!


Varieties:

Arborvitae are native to North America and eastern Asia;. The most common varieties include:

  • Oriental Arborvitae

  • American Arborvitae, also called Giant Arborvitae

  • Emerald Arborvitae

  • Globe Arborvitae


Pests of Arborvitae:

A variety of animals feed on Arborvitae, especially in the winter months when other food sources are scarce. They include deer, rabbits, mice, and other rodents.

Occasional insect problems can occur from  mites and bagworms. Use insecticides only if necessary.


Diseases Affecting Arborvitae Trees:

The most common plant problems are molds and mildew, often caused in cool, damp weather. Drowning of roots can also occur in wet weather.

Cankers and sun scorch are also an occasional problem.


Also see: Cedar Shrubs

A favorite Fall pastime is planting fall bulbs. These bulbs produce the first blooms of spring, brightening up and chasing away the dull, grey winter scenery. More on Bulbs

How to grow your favorite shrub

Buy Arborvitae Trees and Cedar Shrubs - Live trees, bushes and shrubs, hundreds of varieties

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