8 Arborvitae Tree Types: How To Plant, Grow, Care for Fast Growing Thuja

Man walking along a path next to a group of arborvitae tree types (thuja) growing beside it wonders how to plant and care for arborvitae trees and their growing locations.

You’ve probably seen Arborvitae tree types everywhere, but may not know them by that name.

If landscaping is your pastime, or you value privacy, it’s likely you’ve heard of the fast growing Thuja, which is used in many privacy screens and landscaping settings.

As low maintenance evergreen shrubs, Arborvitae Trees are popular for their majestic appearance, quick growth and lovely shapes.

So, if you’re looking for trees that grow fast and look great, the following guide on Arborvitae tree types can help you choose the best for your application. And the growing and care tips will ensure that your trees stay healthy and thriving for yours to come.

Oriental Arborvitae

(Thuja occidentalis)

Arborvitae Tree in oval frame on green background.
  • Characteristics: Pyramidal, scales outer bark, fibrous inner bark, horizontal and ascending branches
  • Family: Cupressaceae
  • Genus: Monophyletic
  • Leaf: Simple
  • Bark: Gray, but turns reddish with age
  • Seed: Seed cones
  • Blossoms: Inconspicuous flowers
  • Fruit: No fruit
  • Native Habitat: North America and Asia
  • Height: Above 10 feet
  • Canopy: 30 Feet wide
  • Type: Deciduous

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species Ranking

Least Concern


Image Credit: Roman Zacharij30

How To Identify Arborvitae Tree

Also known as the White Cedar in Northern America, Arborvitae Trees are decorative trees often seen in parks and landscapes. Their distinctive look makes it easy for anyone to identify them; to do this, quickly examine for the foliage arrangement.

In most cases, the Arborvitae Tree foliage has a fan-like shape that differentiates the species. The foliage features small scale-like leaves in fan-shaped clusters surrounding its branches.

You can also identify Arborvitae Trees by having a close review of their bark.1 These tree types have a unique bark that is reddish-brown.

In addition, Arborvitae Trees have deep grooves and perpendicular folds.

Arborvitae Tree identification chart showing full-grown Arborvitae Tree with average height range, Arborvitae Tree leaves, Arborvitae Tree flowers, Arborvitae Tree seed pods, and Arborvitae Tree bark images in circle frames on a green background.

While the bark has a rough texture, it flakes off frequently in small pieces. A full-grown Arborvitae Tree can grow above 20 feet tall.

Moreover, they tend to exhibit a cone-shaped growth habit, which makes them stand out from a distance in most landscapes. Thus, you can easily identify an Arborvitae Tree with a close look at the foliage, bark, and tree growth pattern.

Arborvitae Tree Flower

While the Arborvitae Tree is one of the types of evergreen trees cherished for their compact foliage and distinct pointed shape, they produce tiny blooms that enhance the environment. Arborvitae flowers blossom at the tips and often noticed in close range.

They appear yellowish green during spring and summer respectively. In addition, Arborvitae flowers have a sweet fragrance that attracts pollinating agents such as bees and butterflies.

In this respect, Arborvitae flowers enhance the natural habitat.

Arborvitae Tree Seeds

While brown in color, Arborvitae seeds are equally flat and spiky; however, with plenty of pollinating agents, growing Arborvitae Tree from a seed becomes an easy task for you.

A few tips are worth underscoring, and they include planting for optimum germination.2

Like a mastered seed that grows into a giant tree, the same applies to American Arborvitae Tree seeds.3 You can commence your planting spree of American Arborvitae Tree from seedlings this coming summer.

Arborvitae has pointy seed pods that appear like berries, however, since you won’t be foraging for fruits, you won’t waste your time trying to cluster the plant for a poisonous bush with red berries identification.

Arborvitae Tree Types

The Arborvitae, also referred to as Thuja Tree or Thuja occidentalis (White Cedar), is part of the Cypress Family and features a number of species,4 such as:

#1 Eastern Arborvitae (American Arborvitae)

The Eastern Arborvitae, or White Cedar, is an increasingly popular landscaping tree occasioned by its appealing foliage and low maintenance needs.5 The 50-foot plant often serves as privacy screens or hedges.

While known for their resistance against diseases and pests, these trees are popular alternatives in commercial sceneries due to low maintenance requirements and sturdiness.

In winter, Eastern Arborvitae or American Arborvitae Trees situated next to a house function as privacy trees.

(Image: I.Sáček, senior20)

  • Scientific name: Thuja occidentalis
  • USDA zone: 3–7
  • Growth rate: Slow to medium
  • Growing condition: Full sun

American Arborvitae, more commonly referred to as Eastern White Cedar in North America, are indigenous species with unique foliage that makes an eye-catching statement when decorated.7

Closeup of Western Red Cedar showing scale-like and small ovate green leaves.

(Image: Sabrina Eickhoff27)

  • Scientific name: Thuja plicata
  • USDA zone: 5-7
  • Growth rate: Moderate
  • Growing condition: Full sun

#2 Western Red Cedar

The Western Red Cedar can grow as tall as 200 feet and is often grown in the Pacific Northwest region of North America.6 It is known for its water-resistant wood that is not infested by molds.

The Thuja plicata is renowned for making fencing posts that are resistant to rot.10

In addition, these types of trees are versatile and thrive in different types of soil; no wonder people will always use them for landscape and beautification of sorts.

Arborvitae Trees, which are cone-bearing plants, have the potential to grow up to 60 feet tall.

With several types of Arborvitae Trees available, each has its unique features.

#3 Golden Arborvitae Tree

The Arborvitae Tree is a stunning plant that can reach up to 12 feet in height and spread about 6 feet wide. It also has golden yellow leaves that project a unique picturesque.

Admirers that are passionate about beautification and private spaces will never resist the temptation to grow forever Goldy Arborvitae Trees at any time. Those golden lives blend perfectly with the green vegetation to create a spectacular hue like no other.

Young Golden Arborvitae in black pot showing green leaves with golden tips.

(Image: F. D. Richards29)

  • Scientific name: Thuja orientalis ‘Aurea Nana’
  • USDA zone: 6-9
  • Growth rate: Slow
  • Growing condition: Full to partial sun
Emerald Green Arborvitae situated on dirt showing pyramidal form and green leaves.

(Image: David J. Stang26)

  • Scientific name: Thuja occidentalis ‘Smaragd’
  • USDA zone: 3-8
  • Growth rate: Slow to moderate
  • Growing condition: Full sun to light shade

#4 Emerald Green Arborvitae

The Emerald Green Arborvitae can grow to a height of 15 feet. It also has a crown that can span as far as 3 feet wide.8

Some suitable companions for this privacy trees, include the golden variety that create an alluring environment.

Emerald Green Arbovitae does not require pruning now and then an attribute that makes it a preference in most homes.6

Again, if planted on the precincts of your compound, Emerald Green Arbovitae wards off prying eyes leaving you with calm and serene spaces.

There’s no doubt that anyone wanting to plant it want something to this effect; it thrives in almost extreme environments.9

#5 Thuja Green Giant (Green Giant Arborvitae Tree)

While it matures into a big tree above 60 feet in height, the Thuja Green Giant is also referred to as the Arborvitae Tree of Life,10 a name that was almost certainly coined by flora enthusiasts to reassert their love for it.

For individuals when you get tired of prying eyes and you want to give your backard or landscape some elegance, calmness and lushness, you may opt for the Thuja Green Giant.11 It has a bright green hue that runs year long.

Closeup of Thuja Green Giant showing green and scale-like leaves with some turning yellow.

(Image: Hans21)

  • Scientific name: Thuja plicata x standishii
  • USDA zone: 5-9
  • Growth rate: Fast
  • Growing condition: Full sun to light shade

Furthermore, the compressed shape and compact growth pattern make it suitable for a privacy cover.

These type of tree are low-maintenance, making looking after them easy. Homeowners and landscape enthusiasts like the Green Giant Arborvitae Tree for many reasons.

These Arborvitae Trees are beautiful and a great source of cover. Hustle-free maintenance makes this tree an excellent selection in various regions across North America.

Green Giant Arborvitae Trees combine realism and visual beauty into one efficient package. Furthermore, this is perhaps why homeowners and landscape designers find these trees appealing for beauty.

Their leaves are soft underfoot, while their bright green colour remains throughout the year. More so, these trees require minimal pruning and less maintenance in general.

Closeup of Dwarf Arborvitae Tree showing lush foliage with white wall in the background.

(Image: Yogdes28)

  • Other common name: Morgan Chinese Arborvitae
  • USDA zone: 5-9

#6 Dwarf Arborvitae Tree

Dwarf Arborvitae Trees are small shrubs that reach up to six feet in height, known for their dense leaves and compact sizes. These trees are also suitable for landscaping both residential and commercial spaces.

Looking for an Arborvitae Christmas Tree? Dwarf Arborvitae Tree is your perfect answer.

Dwarf Arborvitae Trees provide the needed privacy when planted in your garden. The busy leaves of this tree can black out unwanted people from piercing through your compound.

Blocking out unwanted eyes and attention leaves you with ample outdoor space. In addition, these trees play a critical biodiversity role.

Apart from beautifying the garden, they provide shelter to birds and animals. Let’s look at various types of arborvitae tree types.

Common NameScientific NameUSDA zoneGrowth rateGrowing condition
7. North PoleThuja occidentalis ‘Art Boe’3-7ModerateFull to partial sun.
8. Golden GlobeThuja occidentalis ‘Golden Globe’3-8Slow to mediumFull to partial sun

Arborvitae Tree Facts

  • Arborvitae (Thuja) Trees are native to North America but grown in Eastern Asia and elsewhere worldwide.12
  • They are perennial species that create attractive ornamental landscapes.
  • They have striking and pointed shapes and dense, lush green leaves that make them appealing.
  • Arborvitae can grow as tall as 60 feet.
  • Trees are relatively manageable due to their ability to be pruned back down for pruning purposes to help control size.
  • These trees are resilient and live up to 200 years.
  • Arborvitae is popularly used as exterior fences.
  • Is the Arborvitae Tree poisonous? It has less toxicity.
  • Arborvitae is a French term that means tree of life.

Arborvitae Tree Disease Prevention

Due to their beautifying attributes, Arborvitae Trees are grown in gardens, parks, and landscape.13 Like all living things, however, Arborvitae Trees can fall victim to diseases which weaken, wilt and kill them over time.

Closeup of Thuja occidentalis showing sage-colored leaves and brown pinecones.

(Image: Laslia22)

Nevertheless, there are ways in which certain measures can help mitigate Arborvitae Tree diseases to ensure they continue serving aesthetic and ecological functions for longer.

Here’s How To Stop Arborvitae Tree Disease

First, consider watering needs for Arborvitae Tree plants. Proper watering and drainage can help prevent arborvitae tree diseases.

However, caution about too much watering is paramount to avoid causing root rot.

In addition, poor drainage could result in waterlogging, which attracts dangerous fungi or bacteria, an aspect that puts at risk arborvitae trees. Water Arborvitae trees regularly but intermittently to allow the soil time to dry between watering sessions.

Good pruning habits, such as taking steps to eliminate damaged or dead branches and foliage should also be practiced as a preventative measure.11

Even though enhancing the aesthetic appeal of Arborvitae Trees has the propensity to improve air circulation, using safe Arborvitae Tree fertilizer and pest control products designed for these types of trees can also help lower fungal infection risks and other common pests of the Arborvitae Tree.

Moreover, safe fertilizer and pest control products can enhance growth and immunity and make arborvitae trees less vulnerable to diseases.

Organic sprays that work as natural pest control for Arborvitae Tree include horticultural and insecticidal soap oil.14

Arborvitae Tree Growing Zone

Before we tackle the growth rate, it would be prudent to delve into the right growing zones for Arborvitae Tree where to grow and get the gist of what activates them to grow faster. Arborvitae Tree enthusiasts would talk far and wide about how they love its beauty, elegance and privacy.

Although Narrowleaf Cottonwood may be a river bed companion Arborvitae Trees will more likely get the green thumbs up in your yard.

Of course, ensuring Arborvitae Tree success depends on an appropriate planting zone,15 typically between zones 3-8; outside of that range can have disastrous effects. Arborvitaes thrive in cool summer and cold winter conditions where pests aren’t pesky or perilous to their well-being.

You might realize that warmer environments cause excess heat and humidity, straining healthy growth as insect infestations and disease problems become rampant. This kind of habitat stress is stressful for growing efforts leading to bug issues like infestation.

So while you plan before planting Arborvitaes with care, research aplenty to find out more about growing an Arborvitae Tree from a cutting.

Arborvitae Tree Growth Rate

The Arborvitae or Thuja Tree grows rapidly up to 60 feet.16 Its average growth rate ranges between three and four feet each year depending on soil type, climate and amount of sunlight it receives.

But, what exactly are the best growing conditions for Arborvitae Tree?

Arborvitae Trees thrive when placed in soil that drains well and prefer full sun to partial shade conditions. Their hardiness withstands harsh winters while being drought resistant; furthermore, they require little pruning in order to retain their shape.

With proper care and conditions, they make a wonderful addition to any landscape, providing privacy as well as providing natural backdrop.

How Tall Do Emerald Green Arborvitae Get?

These trees are visually striking in any landscape. While its height ultimately depends on genetics, full mature Arborvitae can typically reach 15-20 feet; some well-cared-for specimens soar up to 30 feet with sufficient sunlight and moisture being crucial factors in their growth.

So, the question of how much sunlight does arborvitae tree need each day has been put to rest.

Emerald Green Arborvitae Trees showing pyramidal form with small scale-like leaves.

(Image: David J. Stang23)

Other environmental conditions impacting the habitat of the tree also have an essential role shaping its development. Due to their impressive growth rate, Arborvitae has become a go-to plant in landscaping options that call for speedily covering unattractive grounds while adding some grandeur appeal.

But anyone considering planting this remarkable tree should undertake appropriate research and planning to guarantee it grows optimally and contributes positively to the surrounding ecosystem.

Green Giant Arborvitae Spacing (Baby Giant Arborvitae Tree)

Keep in mind, however, that closer planting of the Green Giant Arborvitae reduces their width, necessitating more pruning to maintain the desired shape and increased risk from disease and insect infestations. Before planting Baby Giant or Green Giant Arborvitae trees, it’s crucial that one consider the height and width they will eventually attain before doing so.

Each year they grow three to five feet with mature height reaching up to 50 feet and 15 feet width, respectively; accordingly, ensure the distance of how far apart to plant arborvitae tree so they have enough room to reach their full potential without overcrowding one another.

By taking into consideration both height and width requirements when planning this screen of fast growing trees you can ensure a beautiful screening solution on your property that offers privacy or security as needed by all parties involved. Ideal spacing ensures healthy trees which thrive as fast-growing hedgerows.

How Fast Do Emerald Green Arborvitae Grow?

Due to their appealing green foliage, Emerald Green Arborvitae is popular for landscaping like other Ash Tree. Moreover, their eye-catching emerald green leaves make them highly desired trees for many projects.

In contrast, their growth rates vary according to the soil, climate and overall tree health, typically between 8-15 inches annually when young and healthy compared with only 3-4″ when older and more established.

Emerald Green Arborvitae is most likely to experience rapid growth when planted in an environment with plenty of sun and water.17 Also, fertile and well-draining soil with the right nutrient content accelerates its growth.

When provided with these requirements, your trees could experience fast growth rates over 20 years, with average heights between 20-30 feet attained.

By failing to meet basic needs for care or neglecting growth altogether, you could hinder their progress, increase susceptibility to disease, shorten the lifespan or stunt the trees altogether. For this reason, if you wish to grow Emerald Green Arborvitae Trees, ensure regular care because this could affect how fast or slow they will progress compared to what other options.

How long it takes to grow Arborvitae Tree is depended on the aforementioned factors.

How To Plant Emerald Green Arborvitae (When To Plant Emerald Green Arborvitae)

Thought processes like when to plant Arborvitae Tree for the best yield are common among homeowners that understand how majestic Emerald Green Arborvitae can get.18

There are different ways of planting the tree types, and include transplanting Arborvitae Tree that’s not overgrown.

Wide shot of hedged Emerald Green Arborvitae Trees situated next to a house functioning as privacy trees.

(Image: Famartin24)

You can also plant this tree from seeds or a cutting.

However, if you want to plant an Emerald Green Arborvitae Tree, the optimal time and season to do it may vary depending on where you reside. Generally, though, late spring, summer, or early fall tend to be optimal due to warm temperatures encouraging root development and helping the tree establish itself more quickly.

Don’t plant Emerald Green Arborvitae during hot, dry conditions, as this could stress and kill it off. Conversely, winter planting while the ground is frozen could make roots difficult to form.

By and large, avoid extreme climatic conditions for optimal success and survival.

Proper timing, techniques, and maintenance practices increase longevity, beauty, and health benefits.

Planting Arborvitae

Planting Arborvitae Trees is a forthright process. It takes only minimal preparation and care to succeed.

Before planting Arborvitae Trees, check for Arborvitae Tree cost, select an ideal location that offers good drainage and plenty of sunlight exposure. Again, ensure you plant on moist yet nutrient-rich soil with slightly acidic pH levels; dig a hole two or three times larger than its root ball for planting.

Again, ensure the plant is watered regularly during its first several months to promote proper root development. Arborvitae Trees are also vulnerable to deer.

Once you understand this, you can safeguard a tree with a fence or deer repellent to ward off animals.

How To Trim Arborvitae Tree

Prune and trim the plant cautiously to curtail diseases and enhance healthy growth. Prune in later winter and early spring is recommended.

It is also proper to understand that Arborvitae has shallow roots and could get swept off during strong winds. At that point, it becomes necessary to offer support until the tree is firmly rooted.

Ultimately, when you plant and take care of these trees, you’ll beautify the scenery and help enhance the air quality and mitigate noise pollution.

Companion plants for growing Arborvitae Tree include the Japanese Fiber Banana plant, and Coral Bells to enhance the fence appearance. However, when growing an Arborvitae Tree from a seedling, it includes grasses and perennials.

Please check online for planting tips for Arborvitae Tree.

Arborvitae Tree Turning Brown

While Arborvitae Trees are known for landscaping due to their majestic look, resistance against extreme weather conditions, and ability to reach sixty feet tall, they don’t remain immune from turning brown and dying over time. Some of the primary culprits behind this condition are spider mites and bagworms.

These tiny pests feed off sap from Arborvitae Tree leaves to produce brown patches across their trunks, leading to widespread discoloration of trees across an entire neighborhood.19

Since bagworms have the power to defoliate an Arborvitae Tree in just days, pesticide sprays can provide effective control for spider mites. Wondering how these worms can devour a tree that fast?

Closeup of Eastern Arborvitae tree showing foliage and massive trunk with fissures.

(Image: MONGO25)

Pests form bag-shaped webs over the trees and feed upon their leaves until they completely disappear.

It is good to eliminate dead bagworms physically; insecticides may help limit further outbreaks. Arborvitae Trees may also turn brown due to fungus disease.

Fungal infections often arise due to stress from poor nutrition, drought, or adverse weather conditions affecting the environment.

Fungal diseases that attack Arborvitae Trees, such as root rot, needle and twig blight and cankers, often result in discoloration to various degrees and may even kill it altogether. Control of fungal diseases in Arborvitae Trees requires the removal or disposal of affected branches.

The application of fungicides would help to keep them healthy, avoid invasion by pests and diseases and provide adequate water and nutrition in order to minimize drought stress. It’s also wise to plant them in areas with well-draining soils so as to provide regular care without leading to drought stress in their lives.

Now that the Arborvitae Trees lie under the least endangered species, won’t you bother yourselves to understand the 8 Arborvitae Tree types: how to plant, grow, care for fast growing Thuja. Landscape lovers can augment the elegance as homeowners enhance their beauty and privacy by planting Arborvitae Trees.

Frequently Asked Questions About Arborvitae Tree

From Which Family Is the Arborvitae?

It comes from the Cupressaceae family.

Why Do Homeowners and Landscapers Like Arborvitae Trees?

Homeowners and landscapers like them because they’re appealing and grow rapidly.

How Fast Can the Arborvitae Tree Grow?

Arborvitae Trees can grow from 6-12 inches per year, however, it all boils down to the species type and the environment they grow in, some can achieve up to 3 feet every year.

Are Arborvitae Trees Low-Maintenance?

Unlike other trees used for landscaping, Arborvitae Trees are low maintenance plants.

Are Arborvitae Tree Good Privacy Screens?

Yes, Arborvitae Trees are good for keeping away prying eyes.

Are Arborvitae Trees Disease Resistant?

No, they’re often infested by fungal diseases.

Arborvitae Trees Are Native To Which Country?

Arborvitae Trees are native in North America and Asia.


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20Thuja occidentalis Photo by I.Sáček, senior / Public Domain. Resized and Changed Format. From Wikimedia Commons <https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Zima_2010_01_22_1089.JPG>

21Photo by Hans. Resized and changed format. Pixabay. Retrieved from <https://pixabay.com/images/id-1077397/>

22Photo by Laslia. Resized and changed format. Pixabay. Retrieved from <https://pixabay.com/images/id-3235584/>

23Thuja occidentalis Smaragd 1zz Photo by David J. Stang / Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-SA 4.0). Resized and Change Format. From Wikimedia Commons <https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Thuja_occidentalis_Smaragd_1zz.jpg>

242022-05-21 13 34 23 Emerald Green Arborvitae hedge along Tranquility Court in the Franklin Farm section of Oak Hill, Fairfax County, Virginia Photo by Famartin / Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-SA 4.0). Resized and Change Format. From Wikimedia Commons <https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:2022-05-21_13_34_23_Emerald_Green_Arborvitae_hedge_along_Tranquility_Court_in_the_Franklin_Farm_section_of_Oak_Hill,_Fairfax_County,_Virginia.jpg>

25Eastern Arborvitae Photo by MONGO / Public Domain. Resized and Changed Format. From Wikimedia Commons <https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Eastern_Arborvitae_(Thuja_occidentalis)_bark_and_foliage.jpg>

26Thuja occidentalis Smaragd 4zz Photo by David J. Stang / Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-SA 4.0). Resized and Change Format. From Wikimedia Commons <https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Thuja_occidentalis_Smaragd_4zz.jpg>

27Photo by Sabrina Eickhoff. Resized and changed format. Pixabay. Retrieved from <https://pixabay.com/images/id-6037996/>

28Platycladus orientalis ‘Aurea Nana’ at Akola Photo by Yogdes / Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-SA 4.0). Resized and Change Format. From Wikimedia Commons <https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Platycladus_orientalis_%27Aurea_Nana%27_at_Akola.jpg>

29Thuja occidentalis ‘Gold Spot’ 5 2021 Arb- (51166370324) Photo by F. D. Richards / Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0). Resized and Change Format. From Flickr <https://flic.kr/p/2kXp2hG>

30File:Pidvysoke (69).JPG Photo by Roman Zacharij. (2007) / Public domain. Cropped and added text, shape, and background elements. Wikimedia Commons. Retrieved February 26, 2024, from <https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Pidvysoke_(69).JPG>