Which Way Up Do I Plant Thuja Green Giant?

There is a very old joke among landscapers, about the new worker sent to lay some sod. The boss gets a desperate phone call, and the nervous worker asks, “Which way up does it go?” The jaded boss answers in a tired voice, “Green side up, fella.” I am thinking about this joke, because I know that when you are around plants all your life, you can easily forget that new gardeners often need the most basic help, with things that more experienced people simply take for granted. So here, for those of you completely new to gardening, some basic tips that will help you get your new Thuja Green Giant hedge or screen into the ground, and successfully on its way to become that green wall of your dreams. Most of these things are also useful for planting just about anything, so pay attention at the back of the room there!

The Basics of Planting Thuja Green Giant

  • Prepare the ground well – soil preparation is the key to success
  • Measure carefully – even spacing makes the best look
  • Plant at the same depth – don’t bury the root ball deeply
  • Water before and during planting – even if it looks damp already
  • Keep up the watering – once a week for the first season

Ground Preparation

Thuja Green Giant is a tough, vigorous plant, that is for sure. But even it needs a good foundation to give you its best. That means putting some effort into preparing the planting area thoroughly. Digging a hole just big enough for the pot is no going to cut it, especially if you plant into hard, heavy soil. What happens above the ground has to be matched below the ground, and you can’t have a big green plant without lots and lots of deep, brown roots. So get a rototiller and some rich organic material and turn it all into the planting area in a strip 3 feet wide. You don’t need to dig out all the old vegetation, just run a mower set low over it, and turn in the grass clippings too. It is very worthwhile, though, to remove the tough roots of perennial weeds, as you don’t want them coming back, which they will if they are left in the ground. As the tiller loosens them and turns them up, pick or rake them from the soil – you will be glad you did. An alternative approach is to spray the strip you plan to dig with a total herbicide, like Roundup, a week before digging. Even if the plants still look green, they will die even if disturbed, and you can simply turn them into the ground along with the compost or manure.

Measure Carefully

Nothing looks worse than a hedge or screen with uneven spacing between the plants, and not in a straight line. So when you are ready to plant, pull a string tightly between two sticks driven into the ground. Have the string right on the ground and use a tape to mark where each plant is to go. A can of spray paint is an effective way to make a mark where to dig and saves you messing around with stakes. Be accurate, as even a few inches difference will be visible to the eye – after you plant – which of course will mean the messy job of moving plants around, and you don’t want to do that.

Plant at the Same Depth

This is a very important one. Dig your planting hole just deep enough to hold the root ball. Slide the plant out of the pot and with a sharp knife make three cuts an inch deep from top to bottom around the root ball. This is done to prevent the roots spiraling around the stem and strangling it as it grows. Now take a stick and lay it across the planting hole. Place the roots in the hole so that the top of the root-ball is level with the stick. If necessary remove a little more soil, or firmly pack extra soil under the roots until you get the right level. Trust me, this is really, really important.

Use Plenty of Water

More plants die after planting from a lack of water than for any other reason. Don’t let those be yours, and water every pot thoroughly the evening before planting day. Even if the ground is damp, and yes, even if it is raining frogs, water each plant as you put it in the ground. Here is a method of watering that not only gets water deep down, but it very importantly consolidates the ground around the roots, and brings the roots closely into contact with the soil. This means the new roots can grow out quickly, and the root-ball can absorb water from the surrounding soil. A plant that is loose in the ground can become completely dry, even in damp soil, and die. Make sure that doesn’t happen to you. Here is what to do. Don’t wait until you have finished planting, before watering, but do each plant as you go along the row. Put back about two-thirds of the soil. Use your boots to push that soil firmly around the root ball, and then add plenty of water. Fill the planting hole to the top. Once the water drains away, put back the rest of the soil. More water is only needed if the soil you dug into was quite dry.

Keep Watering

Once you have your new Thuja Green Giant plants in the ground, its time to water regularly. Once a week, or more often in very hot, dry weather, water deeply right onto the root-ball of each plant, letting the water soak down and into the surrounding soil. Soaker hoses are an effective way to do this without having to stand with a hose pipe. Run a soaker hose along the length of your planting, making sure it lies just a few inches from the stems, or even loop it around them loosely. Then run the hose for several hours, until all the soil is thoroughly watered. You can attach a timer to the tap which will take over this job or attach it to an existing irrigation system. The second year you can restrict watering to dry periods, and after that, unless you have extended droughts, you probably won’t need to water very much at all.

 

These simple steps will establish your plants and make your hedge or screen a great success in just a few years. There is no secret to planting, just a few basic rules that make the difference between success and failure. Now you are set on the road that leads straight to success.

Plant Thuja Green Giant This Spring

The days are getting longer, and depending on where you live, there may already be signs of spring around – some early blossoms on hardy trees, or bulbs pushing through the ground. With spring coming, our minds turn to our gardens, and top on the list for many is planting trees and shrubs. If you are developing or renewing your garden, then planting a hedge or screen could easily be top of your list, and in that case, you are probably thinking about Thuja Green Giant, because it is the most popular evergreen in the country for hedges and screens, in all but the coldest or driest areas.

Is Spring a Good Planting Season?

There are two prime seasons for planting – spring and fall. Both have their good and bad points, but for evergreens in most of the country, spring is the best time. Evergreens keep their leaves through winter – and so they continue to lose water from them in winter too. This means that newly-planted trees can get into difficulty in winter, because their roots have not yet reached into deeper soil, where they can get plenty of water to satisfy the leaves, even when much of the ground is frozen solid. Evergreens planted in fall are already at a disadvantage, especially in cold areas.

The main advantage to spring planting is that your new plants have a whole growing season ahead of them before the onset of winter. They will be much better established, and the risk of winter damage is greatly reduced.

The one drawback to spring planting is cold wet soil, which encourages disease and slows rooting. The best indicator that your soil is warm enough for planting is signs of new growth on your plants – not just the occasional early-starter, but the majority of plants. In warmer, active soil, your new Thuja Green Giant will get off to a flying start and start to show signs of growth almost immediately. Delay your planting until you see that the soil is warm enough.

What is the Value of Soil Preparation?

While waiting for your new plants to arrive, put some time into soil preparation. There is nothing you can do that with a bigger pay-back, or that will make a bigger difference to the speed of growth, general health, and longevity of your plants. Well-prepared soil encourages rapid, deep rooting, and leads to quicker establishment. It also provides the nutrients and soil volume needed to maximize growth. If you want to see 3 feet of growth each year, for those vital first few years, then good soil preparation is the essential first step.

Soil preparation for planting has two main goals. The first is to open up the soil, especially the deeper layers, to exploring roots. The bigger the volume of soil available, the greater the amount of nutrients and water that will be available. It’s like growing a plant in a pot. If the pot is small, the plant’s growth will be stunted. If you make a small planting hole in hard ground, then the roots cannot spread, just like being in a pot.

The second goal of soil preparation is soil improvement. This has indirect benefits to the plant, as a major improvement we look for is drainage and aeration. This means that water moves more quickly out of the soil, but it doesn’t mean the soil becomes drier faster. That sounds like a contradiction, but it isn’t. In between the solid parts of the soil, made up of minerals and clay, are spaces. Large spaces allow water to flow out under the pull of gravity. Smaller spaces hold water under the pull of capillary action – that effect that pulls water up a narrow glass tube you probably learned about in school. An ‘improved’ soil has large spaces added, so more water flows out, to be replaced by air and oxygen that the roots need for growth. The smaller spaces are still there, and they continue to hold water for the plant to use. As well, the material you add works like a sponge, holding water, but not blocking drainage.

Also, improving air and water movement stimulates the micro-organisms that turn organic material into plant nutrients, so more are available, and your plants grow better. Some sources of organic material are richer in potential nutrients than others, and a richer material – such as animal manure – will feed those micro-organisms much better, and so make more nutrients available. But even low nutrient materials, like peat moss, will do a lot for your soil. You can always add more nutrients directly if needed, by using a fertilizer.

Soil Preparation for Thuja Green Giant

The best way to improve any soil, from dusty sand to heavy clay, is with organic material. You can use almost anything, from rotted animal manure to peat moss, but don’t use woody material that has not been thoroughly composted. The best material is coarse and textured, because we want a material that will first of all last in the soil, and secondly create big spaces. Very fine materials decompose too quickly, so the effect is short-lived. Ask around your neighborhood and see what is available locally. Stop at the best garden you see and ask them. Gardeners love to help each other! Your local garden center is also a good place to ask for advice.

If there is lawn on the area you are planting, set your mower very low and cut as short as you can. You don’t need to remove the old grass. Your local garden center should have ‘starter fertilizer’ for hedges and evergreens. Find one that is granules, not a liquid, and use that as directed on the bag. An alternative is superphosphate or bone meal. Whatever organic material you are using, spread a layer at least 2 inches deep over the ground. If you are planting a hedge or screen, spread these materials along the area in a strip at least 3 feet wide.

Now rent the biggest roto-tiller you can find (and handle) and go to it. Go over the ground two or three times, until you are as deep as you can go, and everything is mixed up. It is best to do this a while before planting, and if it rains in between, all the better. You will also need to rake the area level, and walk over it a few times, to even out the soil, so you don’t get area sinking after you plant.

Now You’re Set to Go!

That’s it – you are ready to plant. We will make that the subject of a blog in a few weeks, when we are closer to the best season. You can prepare the ground as soon as it isn’t frozen, so that job can be done and out of the way, while you wait for your plants to arrive.

If your soil is poor, then a product that adds micro-organisms and stimulates root growth can be a great extra to use. These are usually added as you plant, rather than during soil preparation, but they can be ordered from many suppliers along with your plants.

7 Answers About Thuja Green Giant

Spring is just around the corner now, and many people are thinking about hedges and screening plants. That means thinking about Thuja Green Giant, the biggest selling and most popular screening evergreen there is. Before making that investment of money and time, everyone has questions about this plant. Let’s look at the most frequent questions and give some much-needed answers to them.

7 Questions About Thuja Green Giant

  • How fast does it grow?
  • How big will it grow?
  • Is it eaten by deer?
  • Where will it grow?
  • How far apart is it planted?
  • Where did it come from?
  • How do I care for new plants?

How fast does it grow?

No one wants to wait forever to see a mature hedge, or have a screen do its job of screening an ugly view or protecting you from prying eyes. So the first question on everyone’s mind about Thuja Green Giant is just exactly how fast does it grow? Everyone will tell you ‘fast-growing’, ‘quick-growing’, ‘super-fast grower’, but what does all that really mean? Of course it’s hard to be definitive, since every garden is different, in a different growing zone. Soil varies, and so does the input of the grower. But still, there must be some objective data out there – someone must have run a trial and compared Thuja Green Giant to other popular hedging plants. Well they did. At the University of Arkansas, when this plant was still new on the scene, the plant department cleared a field, and planted a selection of trees and shrubs commonly used for screens and hedges. The started with small plants given them by local nurseries, and after planting, gave them some fertilizer, and watered them during dry spells. Otherwise, they did nothing special. Each year the researchers measured the plants and kept notes.

After seven years they took all their figures and tabulated the results. Thuja Green Giant outgrew every other plant and it had no pests or diseases in the whole time. That tiny little plant had grown to a full ten feet tall – that’s right, almost twice as tall as a person. That might not be the ‘5-feet a year’ you have seen advertised, but that figure is the maximum possible under the most ideal conditions, and no plant will grow that fast year after year. Ten feet is bigger than most hedges you will ever want, and a 10-foot screen will block almost anything anyone wants to block out. So don’t worry, you won’t have to wait long to get the result you are looking for.

How big will it grow?

If you are not planning to trim regularly, then you want to know how tall this plant will grow, or you may find yourself engulfed in green. Thuja Green Giant will grow to at least 30 feet tall, in less than 30 years, and it will be 12 feet wide. If you are not planning to trim, then plant at least 6 feet away from property lines, fences, walls and buildings. Don’t plant in front of windows, or even within 6 feet of either side of a window or doorway. Don’t plant it 2 feet from your driveway or paths either – for obvious reasons.

Is it eaten by deer?

This is always a big concern for people who live in areas where deer come near in winter. They can certainly do a lot of damage in a very short time, and these unpredictable animals are often willing to eat almost anything if they are hungry enough. So its not possible to say that a deer will NEVER eat a Thuja Green Giant, but everyone who has grown it around deer reports that they leave it alone. Deer eat a lot of other plants, including Emerald Green Arborvitae, but the green giant is usually left completely alone.

Where will it grow?

Thuja Green Giant is hardy from zones 5 to 9. That means it will grow well in areas where the normal minimum winter temperature is minus 20 degrees. It also means it will grow in areas where the temperature never falls below freezing. It will do best in areas without very humid and hot summers, and it grows most easily in places with rain during most of the year. If you are in a cold area, like zone 3 or 4, go for Emerald Green Arborvitae. If you are somewhere where rain is rare, especially in summer, Italian Cypress will be more useful to you, with its great drought resistance. Neither of these will grow anywhere near as fast as Thuja Green Giant, but they are excellent substitutes in extreme areas.

How far apart is it planted?

To create a screen or windbreak, space your plants 5 to 10 feet apart in a single row. A double row will give you a denser screen, and for that, make the two rows 5 feet apart, and put the trees 8 to 12 feet apart, staggering them in the rows. For a hedge, space them between 3 and 5 feet apart. For a double row, make the rows 3 feet apart and then put the plants 5 to 8 feet apart in each row. Wider spacings take longer to fill, of course, but by using fewer plants you can save some money.

Where did it come from?

Thuja Green Giant is a cross between Japanese Thuja (Thuja standishii) and Western Redcedar (Thuja plicata), which is a common tree throughout the Pacific Northwest. As a hybrid tree, it combines the best of each species, producing vigorous, rapid growth and making a hardy tree that grows well right across America. It was originally found in a nursery in Denmark belonging to the Poulsen family, in the late 1930s. The Second World War got in the way, and it wasn’t until 1967 that some young plants were sent to the National Arboretum in Washington, D.C. In the 90s visiting nurserymen who saw it – by then 30 feet tall – were excited about this fast-growing new tree, and they were given pieces to grow. Don Shadow, who was a nurseryman from Tennessee, was the person who coined the name ‘Green Giant’.

How do I care for new plants?

Once you have planted your new trees, the critical thing in the first year or two is regular watering. You need to encourage your new plants to spread their roots out into the surrounding soil, so that they can draw on water deeper down, and become thoroughly drought resistant. Once a week is not too often during the first year, and if you have a newly planted hedge, and an extended dry period, then twice a week is probably wise. Once established Thuja Green Giant is very tough and reliable and is certainly not a plant that needs much care at all, in the longer term. It’s a smart choice if you would rather spend your time doing something other than caring for plants.

 

Hopefully these answers to this list of frequent questions will help you decide if this is the tree for you. Knowledge is power.

A New Hedge – Planning Time

We can already see the days getting longer, and that is a sure sign that we are on the downhill winter slope to spring. As you look out the window, is that old hedge looking really bad? Thin at the base? Full of gaps? Broken top from winter snow? So fat it takes up half your garden? If you answered, “Yes” to one or more of these questions, then it sounds like time to replace that hedge, and plan for a new one. Spring is the ideal time to do this, as the new plants will have plenty of time to establish over the summer, and they will be in great shape to pass easily through winter and really get moving the next year. With that in mind, let’s look at the important steps in moving from the idea to the reality of a new hedge.

Planning a New Hedge

  • Choose the plant variety to use
  • Calculate how many you need
  • Remove the old hedge
  • Prepare the ground
  • Do the planting
  • Care for your new hedge

Let’s look at each of these steps and see what is involved.

Choosing the Right Plant

Mostly we want a hedge that is there all year. Sometimes a deciduous hedge is the right choice, but if privacy is an issue, remember that a deciduous hedge is anything but private for a large part of the year. Evergreen plants make a lot more sense. Although broad-leaf evergreens like laurel or holly make great, fast-growing hedges for shadier places, some kind of conifer is usually the best choice for sunny or partially-sunny locations. If you want a fast-growing hedge, then the top choices come down to just three; Emerald Green Arborvitae for cold areas; Italian Cypress for very hot, dry regions; and the king of them all, Thuja Green Giant, for everything in between. Hardy from zone 5 to zone 9, this is also the fastest-growing evergreen of all, so it’s the ‘go-to’ plant for almost everyone.

How Many Plants are Needed?

There are two basic ways of planting a hedge. You can plant a single row, with the plants close together, or a double row, with the plants staggered, and more widely spaced. In a smaller garden a single row is best, because it won’t take up so much room, but in a bigger space a double row will give you the densest and sturdiest hedge, without needing a lot more plants, since the spacing is wider. For Thuja Green Giant, use a single row spacing of 3 feet. You can go a little wider, up to 5 feet, but of course it will take longer to fill in. Don’t make the mistake of going closer than 3 feet, as there must be enough room for each plant to develop properly. For a double row, space the rows 3 feet apart, and the plants 5 feet apart in the rows. Again, you can go to 8 feet, but it will be longer before you have a uniform hedge.

For Emerald Green Arborvitae, use a 2 to 3 foot spacing, or a 3 to 4 foot spacing in a double row, allowing 2 feet between the rows. For Italian Cypress use the same spacing, because although this tree grows taller, it has a narrow profile, and spaced too far apart it will never fill in.

To calculate how many plants to order, measure the distance carefully, and then divide it by the spacing you are planning to use. Clearly for a double row you will multiply that number by two. Add a couple of extras at least, in case your measuring is a bit off.

Removing That Old Hedge

For this job it is best to hire someone with a chain-saw and a back-hoe. If you are happy using a chain saw, you can do all the cutting down – wear a hard-hat – and have a contractor come in and remove the wood and stumps. Have the back-hoe dig over the area for you, going deep, as this will make preparing the area a whole lot easier. Before anyone starts digging, it is vital to have the area checked for services. The last thing you want it to rip up your water mains, sewer pipes, or underground cable or electricity services!

Preparing the Ground

That old hedge will have taken a lot of nutrients from the soil, so replace them, and restore the quality of the soil itself, by digging in plenty of rich organic material. Garden compost; rotten cow, sheep or horse manure; mushroom compost; or even rotted leaves, are all good materials. Spread a layer at least 2 inches deep over an area at least 3 feet wide, where your new hedge is going. Add a good sprinkling of superphosphate or bone-meal, or a hedge ‘starter fertilizer’. Use a rototiller to mix everything together and then rake the area level, firming it down with your feet as you go. If you can do this at least a couple of weeks before planting, that is best, as the ground will have some time to settle.

Planting Your New Hedge

The night before planting, water the containers with your new plants thoroughly. Next day, space them out carefully along the row, using a taut string to keep the row straight. Make sure each plant is exactly the same distance apart, or your hedge could have gaps in it. Use a stick across the planting hole to get each plant at the level it was in the container. Have a hosepipe handy, and as you put each plant into its hole, fill the hole with water and let it drain down before adding the last of the soil. This method gets water right down to the roots, where it is needed, instead of watering just the top.

Caring for Your New Hedge

Once you have taken a day or two to admire all your work – and to recover – don’t neglect your new plants. Give them a deep soaking at least once a week, and twice a week if the weather is hot. A soak with a water-soluble hedge food once a month is a terrific way to really get your hedge off to a flying start. As soon as you see some new growth, start trimming just a little bit from your hedge. Don’t wait to trim until it reaches the final size you want. For the best hedge you need to develop a dense structure from an early age, by regular light trimming. You only need to take an inch or two off, but this is the secret of a superb hedge. Once it is forming nicely, keep the upper part narrower than the lower part, so that the bottom stays dense and green right to the ground.

 

After all that work you deserve a beer – or at least a Coke! Within a very short time your new hedge will be looking great, the hard work will be forgotten, and your new hedge is set for the next few decades at least. Job well done.

Mid-winter Check of Your Hedges

Winters can be long or short, depending on where you live. Your local climate may be continuous sub-zero temperatures, and frequent snow, or it may be mild, with occasional storms, separated by warmer, sunny weather. Whatever the climate, it is probably that you don’t spend a lot of time in your garden in winter, certainly compared to summer. In your absence, issues can arise, so a good thing to do as the New Year gets underway is to go outside on a pleasant day to check things out. Here we will concentrate on hedges, but of course checking your other plants too is a good practice at the same time, or perhaps on another good outdoor day. Remember to dress warmly!

Here are the main things to look for – and what to do if you see these problems:

Check the Soil Moisture

If you live in a warmer, drier region, it can be extraordinary how dry the air can be, and how much water is lost by your plants. In a cold snap, already slightly desiccated plants can burn badly, so number one tip for winter health is to keep up the moisture levels in the soil. If there has been some recent rain the top inch may look damp, but lower down can be dry. Take a spade and dig a few small holes in the root-zone of your evergreen hedges, such as Thuja Green Giant. Go down about six inches and pick up some soil. If it feels dry, and is crumbly, its time to soak your hedge. If this is the first winter since planting, it is best to assume that most of the roots are still inside the root-ball as it came out of the pot. If you live in a drier region, it is a safe bet that those small root-balls will be dry. Take a hose with a gentle spray nozzle, and give each plant a generous soaking. The ideal is to let the hose trickle for 10 minutes on each root-ball, one by one along the hedge.

With an older hedge, especially if you live in a warm place, you probably already have some form of irrigation in place for your hedge. If not, then a simple trickle hose of the ‘leaky pipe’ variety, run along the length of the hedge will do an excellent job of giving a deep soaking. Let it run for several hours, until a wide band of soil looks darkly colored by the water. Remember to disconnect the hose from the tap and let it drain. A sudden drop below freezing could split the pipe if you don’t.

Check for Physical Damage

If you have been having strong winds, snow storms, freezing rain – or all three – then there is a risk that some of your hedge has been damaged. Better to find out now, as damaged parts can encourage further damage if left unattended. If any branches have broken, cut them off neatly below any areas of torn bark. Try to cut back to a green, growing branch, as most hedge evergreens cannot sprout from bare wood. Yew trees are an important exception to this rule. If you are left with a bare stump, better to cut the limb out completely, as no matter how hard you wish it, that branch is not going to sprout again!

Watch Out for Snow Build-up

If you notice a heavy build-up of snow or ice on top of your hedge, take a rake and knock off as much as you can. Try not to tear at the branches, but give the snow a good whack – it will shatter and fall away. If you do have this build-up, perhaps the top of your hedge is not being trimmed in a suitable way. In areas with heavy snow, go for a narrow, rounded top, as this shape will shed snow much better than a flat top. Snow is heavy, and the weight of it can easily break a hedge – it’s the most common cause of hedge damage in cold, snowy areas, such as around the Great Lakes.

Check for Desiccation

Trim a few small pieces from your hedge. Take them into a warm place to thaw. Are they crisp and dry, or even crumbly? If there are, then your plants may be suffering from ‘winter burn’, caused by the inability of your hedge to draw sufficient water from the frozen roots. As moisture is lost in cold, drying winter winds, the foliage gradually dries out and dies.

If you do see this problem, it’s not too late to take preventive measures. Newly planted hedges, and indeed all evergreens in cold climates, are especially vulnerable, since they don’t have a deep, extensive root system to find moisture below the frozen soil. Wait for a dry day above freezing, and spray the hedge with an anti-desiccant. These treatments, which should be used more regularly, form a coating over the leaves and trap moisture. If you have already applied an anti-desiccant before winter, if a suitable day arrives, go outside and put on a fresh coating. It doesn’t last for a long time, especially if you have had a lot of rain since you applied it. Mulching the ground around your evergreens is another way to keep the soil from freezing hard, and that will protect your plants from winter burn.

Look for Salt Damage

If you live along a highway or road, or if the hedge is along your own driveway, then look out if salt has been used to clear snow or ice. If the weather is above freezing, taking a hose and giving your hedge a thorough wash will remove any salt that has built up on the foliage. If you do have a risk from blowing salt from road clearing, a relatively simple solution is to suspend burlap from poles about a foot in front of the hedge. This will trap salty water and spray, so that it will not get through to the plants. Don’t make the common mistake of putting the burlap right up against the hedge – this simply traps the salty water against the foliage, making the problem worse, not better.

 

These simple checks will help your hedge pass through winter unscathed. They are especially important if this is a newly-planted hedge. If you found problems, follow the suggestions for how to prevent them in your routine care, and with some simple activities in the late fall. Hedges are an investment, and they take time to develop properly. Why take risks that could destroy that work and money in a matter of minutes? As Benjamin Franklin said, ‘an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure’.

Will Thuja Green Giant Grow in My Garden?

This is a very common question from gardeners who have read about this fast-growing tree, and want to use it in their garden. It certainly makes a wonderful screen or hedge, as well as being perfect for big specimens to give presence and structure to your garden. This is a very reliable and adaptable plant, but it certainly pays to check if it is ideal for you. There are a few basic parameters of your garden to consider, and then you will know if you can join the millions of happy growers of today’s most popular evergreen.

Climate

Across the country there are many different climate zones, usually based on the average winter low temperature. Remember that plants are not affected directly by wind-chill, although cold winds can damage them by desiccation. So ‘real feel’ temperatures are not important, just the actual temperature. The USDA zone system is the most widely used, and you can find out your zone just with your postcode. Thuja Green Giant is hardy all through zone 5, and anywhere warmer until we reach zone 10. If you are in zones 5 to 9, then you have reached first base.

Rainfall

The next thing to consider is rainfall. Take a look at this map, which shows annual average rainfall by state. Ignoring the states that are zones 3 or 4, if you live in a blue state, you can grow Thuja Green Giant very easily. After watering regularly while it becomes established, you will probably only need to water during extended dry periods in summer, which will not even be an annual event. If you have very sandy soil you may need more frequent water.

If you live in a yellow state, you will need to water during most summers, and having a simple irrigation system, especially during the growing phase of your trees, will definitely be an asset. Only if you live in an orange state do you need to think about possible alternatives. For those areas, consider using Italian Cypress, or an upright type of Juniper, for a hedge, unless you are able to provide all-year irrigation.

Soil Type

Because soil is the basis of all your gardening, no matter what you plant, you should always check your type of soil. Thuja Green Giant is very tolerant of many soil conditions, so it will grow in most gardens without problems. Even so, since this is vital information that will guide all your plant choices, check it out – it’s easy to do. Soils vary too much across small distances for their to be national maps to help us.

 Find Your Soil Type

There are three important aspects to soil and they are easy to determine. First is your soil texture. This is how fine or coarse the particles in your soil are, and it tells you if you have sandy soil, clay, or something else. No special tools are needed for this simple job. To begin, scoop up some soil from a few spots in your garden, and mix it together.  Even in winter, if you can scrape back the snow and dig out a little soil, it will soon thaw when you bring it inside. Take a palmful of the mixed soil, and place it in your hand. Add a little water if needed, and mix until the soil no longer sticks to your fingers, but forms a ball.

Squeeze and push the ball of soil out of your palm over your first finger, using your thumb, until it forms a ribbon. Do this until the ribbon breaks under its own weight. If the ribbon is half-an-inch long or less, you have a Sandy Soil. If it is an inch long before it breaks, then you have a Loam Soil. A ribbon that holds together for one and two inches tells you that you have a Clay Loam Soil. If the ribbon is longer than two inches, you have a Clay Soil.

Whatever the soil you have, stroke the ball with your thumb. If it feels gritty, no matter how long a ribbon you were able to make, then you have a sandier version of these three types of soil, perhaps a sandy loam, or a sandy clay. These soils will drain well, which is important, but they will probably also need more frequent watering. The smoother the ball feels, the more clay there is in it.

Thuja Green Giant is very adaptable and will grow well in most types of soil. In sandy soils add lots or organic material when planting, and water more frequently, especially during dry weather. You will probably also need to use a granular or liquid fertilizer to get the maximum growth from your plants. Clay soil is also improved by adding organic material, since it creates open spaces in the soil and so increases the natural drainage. Don’t water clay soil if it seems damp, as it needs those drier periods to draw air into the ground. This is necessary for the development of a healthy root system.

Find the pH of Your Soil

The second important thing to know about your soil is the balance between acid and alkali. This is called the ‘pH’, pronounced as two separate letters. To test this, pick up an inexpensive kit or probe from your local garden center or hardware store. Acid soils have a pH number less than 7, and alkaline ones have a number above 7. A value of 6.5 is the best number to have for most plants.

Unlike many other evergreen trees, Thuja Green Giant does well even in very alkaline soils, with pH values over 7.5 That makes it a valuable plant for areas like that, which can be hard on many other plants.

Check Soil Drainage

The last bit of useful information you need is the speed at which your soil drains. This is also easy to check. Dig a hole a foot in each direction, and a foot deep. Fill the hole with water, and time how long it takes for it to empty. If it takes less than 10 minutes, you have very fast-draining soil. You should add lots of organic material to help it retain water, and mulch regularly as well. If it takes between 10 and 30 minutes to drain, you have the perfect ‘well-drained soil that so many plants – including Thuja Green Giant – just love to grow in. If it takes an hour or more to drain, then you have slow-drainage, and you should plant your new hedge or screen on a raised mound of soil, digging it up from the sides to raise the planting area at least 6 inches above the surrounding ground. If you are putting in a new garden, or developing an old one, you might want to install drainage tile across the property, especially if it takes 3 or 4 hours for that hole to drain. In constantly-wet soil, you should consider a plant like Bald Cypress, or Willow, for a hedge, as these plants thrive in wet conditions that defeat other plants.

Now You Are Set to Go

Once you have all this information, you can easily decide if Thuja Green Giant is the plant for you. If there are issues, then a lot of them can be fixed with good soil preparation before planting. Don’t forget to also check that you have enough room for what will become a large plant, especially if you don’t trim it. Good luck with your planting plans – knowledge is power!

Do I Need to Trim Thuja Green Giant?

Thuja Green Giant is a plant for everyone, and that includes those who don’t like gardening. Many people are willing to prepare the soil, and plant, but after that they just want their plants to take care of themselves, while they turn their attention to other important matters, like family, or golf. If this sounds like you, and you have been considering using Thuja Green Giant for a screening plant, to hide that ugly view and enclose your garden. Maybe you are not sure, because you see so many examples of this plant used for hedges, where the owners trim once, twice, or even more often each year. You don’t want to do that, so how do you decide if it will work, and what are the limitations of not trimming?

Do You Have the Necessary Space?

Because we see this plant trimmed into hedges so often, we can be forgiven for not realizing it is a potentially large plant. Since it is fast growing, it will reach full size in a relatively short time. You can expect a minimum height of ten feet from small plants in no more than 7 years. If you start with plants in the 4 to 5-foot range – a good starting size – then in 7 years they will be 15 feet tall. The original plant, which was grown at the National Arboretum in Washington, was over 30 feet tall just 25 years after being planted as a tiny plant a few inches tall. That 30 feet is usually given as the maximum height, but all evergreens grow just as long as they are alive. They grow more slowly, but you can expect your plants to eventually exceed even 30 feet. If you aren’t going to trim, ask yourself if a screen that tall is too much. Remember that it will throw a long shadow for most of the year, apart from the few months of summer, when the sun is high in the sky. If you plant it to the south of your garden, it will give you a lot of shade – maybe you want that. If you plant it to the north, next to a neighbor, then they may not want your shade on their garden.

How Wide Will Thuja Green Giant Grow?

Consider too that a single plant can become 12 feet wide when mature, so a screen of untrimmed trees will be 12 feet thick. The best advice is to plant your screening row of trees 6 feet inside your property line, unless your neighbor(s) agree that you can plant it closer. That way the trees are always on your property, and there is no danger of disputes. Check too with your city. If you are in town, it is possible that there are height limitations of hedges and screens, and if so you should choose a shorter plant for an un-trimmed screen.

Considering this width, it makes sense to plant your trees 6 to 8 feet apart, so that you will have a solid screen in a few years. If you are planting a specimen, then give it a space at least 15 feet across, so that you can enjoy its mature appearance without it looking crowded. Don’t plant in front of windows. If you have 8 to 10-foot ceilings, then the windows on a third floor will be blocked in time. Don’t plant too close beside a door. You should place the trees 6 feet or more away from the edge of the door opening. Rely on your measurements, even if you think it looks too far away – remember they grow fast! Some people plant ‘by eye’, but unless you are experienced with outside distances, you will probably judge it wrongly, and end up having to trim after all.

Careful measurement is much more important when your goal is to not trim your trees. You may have plenty of room, but getting the position just right is the key to avoiding trimming – make a mistake and don’t allow enough room and you will be up that ladder with the hedge trimmers very soon.

Are There Any Risks to Consider?

If you live in an area where fire is a risk, that is something else to consider. If your trees catch fire, you don’t want them to spread that fire to other trees, or even worse, to your home. In fire-prone areas it is best to plant all taller trees so that their outer edges are at least 30 feet from your home, or outbuildings. If you have a sloping garden, then on the downward slope allow 100 feet, as flames will burn uphill more rapidly. Again, go out and actually measure the distances – don’t risk your property for a few minutes work.

All This Sound Great to Me

If you have thought about all this, and you see no problems fitting plants of this size into your garden, then go ahead. Now you have planted them, after careful measurement and placement, just sit back. Thuja Green Giant grows into a beautiful, dense, upright tree, of charm and character. It is resistant to salt spray, rarely nibbled by deer, and sturdy enough not to be blown down in regular storms, either rain or snow. Even if the branches do get weighed down with ice or snow, when it melts they will spring back up, and the form will be restored.

Remember that an unclipped screen will be more ‘natural’ looking. It will have a looser, informal look, and the top will not be perfectly flat and even. It will look great, it just won’t be a formal hedge. Many people think it is more beautiful when allowed to grow naturally, and whether you plant it as a screen, or as an individual specimen in a lawn, this is the perfect tree for that natural look.

Maybe Just a Little Trimming. . .

There is a good argument to make for doing some trimming while your trees are growing. If you do it right, it does not commit you to a life behind a hedge trimmer, but it will give you better looking plants for life. When a fast-growing plant like Thuja Green Giant is young, it is common for several shoots to compete and give several tall growing points on your trees. Each one will develop into a ‘mini-tree’, and give a more open, wider plant. You can easily produce a more tapered, narrower tree with a little formative trimming.

Here is what to do. Select a tall shoot in the center of the tree and leave it untrimmed. Cut back the tops of all the other shoots so that the tall one is at least 3 feet above the others. On a taller tree, make that 6 feet. As you move towards the outside, cut the stems shorter. Always cut back to an inward-facing shoot if you can, as that will keep the form tighter. You can repeat this process once or twice more as the tree grows. The result will be a lovely, flame-shaped tree with lots of elegance, for almost no work. Never cut back so hard that you leave a bare, leafless branch. It will not re-sprout, and you will have spoiled your tree.

In fact, that last point is the main reason why you need to consider carefully before letting your trees grow untrimmed. Once they are tall, it is hard to make them shorter again, because you can only trim back to areas of green growth. It is easy to grow Thuja Green Giant untrimmed. It just takes a little foresight and planning.

5 Top Hedging Plants for 2018

Looking ahead is always fun, and if you are planning to put in a new hedge in 2018, what are likely to be the most popular plants, and why? Looking back can be a guide to the future, so what plants sold well, and performed well, in the last few years?

The top hedging plants continue to be, depending on where you live, Thuja Green Giant, Emerald Green Arborvitae, Leyland Cypress, American Holly and Italian Cypress. You can see hedges made from many, many other evergreens, both conifers and broadleaf trees, as well as from deciduous trees, with Boxwood being very popular for short hedges. But these are the top five plants, and so let’s take a look at each one, and see if it is a good choice for that new hedge you are planning for the New Year.

5 Top Hedging Plants

  • Emerald Green Arborvitae – top choice for cold regions
  • Thuja Green Giant – top overall choice for most areas
  • Leyland Cypress – still popular, but best in moderate climates
  • American Holly – good for damp and shady sites
  • Italian Cypress – best for hot, dry regions

Emerald Green Arborvitae

This plant, a selected form of Eastern White Cedar (Thuja occidentalis), is by far the biggest seller and top choice in the coldest parts of the country. This dense evergreen is hardy to minus 50 degrees, so wherever you live, it can’t be too cold for this reliable plant. Not as fast growing as some others, it will still put on a couple of feet a year when young, and mature into a lovely, dense hedge that could be 12 feet tall if you need that much height. Because you are probably living in a snowy area if you choose this tree, make sure you taper the sides and round the top – keep it narrow to prevent your hedge collapsing under the weight of snow or freezing rain.

Thuja Green Giant

Proven by science to be the fastest evergreen available, this tree, since its introduction around 2000, but known since the 1930’s, has been a real winner. It is a hybrid, and so very vigorous and capable of growing 3 to 4 feet a year. With that growth rate you will have a sturdy, tall hedge in just a few years. It is hardy right through zone 5 and warmer. If you live in most parts of the country, as long as you have moderate rainfall, and don’t get any colder than minus 20, you cannot pass by this plant easily. No wonder it’s the fastest seller in most garden centers. One great advantage over Emerald Green Arborvitae is how green it remains all winter. No bronzing or browning, so your hedges will always look perfect in winter – exactly when we notice them most. Choose it for any hedge over 8 feet tall. Although it is fast-growing, it will slow with maturity, so if you trim just once or twice a year it will always look great.

Leyland Cypress

This hybrid tree has been a reliable standby for half-a-century or more. Not quite as fast-growing as Thuja Green Giant, it is still capable of very rapid growth, especially if fed and watered well. It definitely grows best in moderate climates – not too hot and not too cold, and although fairly drought resistant it will do best with a good supply of water. In hot, humid areas it tends to suffer from disease, but in temperate climates it will do well. One area where they are especially valuable is on the coast. One of the parents is the Monterey Cypress, which grows hanging out over the Pacific Ocean. So if you need a hedge or screen at the coast, look no further than this reliable evergreen for salt resistance.

Remember that Leyland Cypress will grow very large. This makes it excellent for tall barriers, to block out noise or salt-spray. Don’t plant in restricted spaces – a 40 to 60-foot tree that can be 25 feet across has no place in a small yard. Because it has sometimes been planted in unsuitable places, causing problems for neighbors as well as home-owners themselves, this plant has got a reputation as a ‘bad boy’. Don’t be put off if you have plenty of room and need a big screen, this tough, reliable tree is a top choice.

American Holly

Not everyone has a bright, well-drained sunny garden. Shade from trees, and low-lying areas are not top choices for planting most evergreens. If you need a sturdy hedge, but your soil is often damp, and trees throw shade across the area, consider using the American Holly, or other holly varieties. This are broad-leaf evergreens, with glossy leaves of a rich, deep green. Many produce bright red berries in fall and winter as well, brightening the garden at a dark time. They clip well, and grow tough and dense. The spiny leaves will protect your garden from all kinds of intruders too, so you will be safe and snug behind a holly hedge.

American Holly will grow a little more slowly, probably one or two feet a year, but it’s a great choice for any shady, damp areas. If you love the look – and who wouldn’t? – it is also reliable in sun and even in areas that have season drought, once established. So it’s a good all-round choice too.

Italian Cypress

Everyone has seen those pictures of Italy or Provence, with dark, narrow green fingers pointing towards the blue sky. This is the Italian Cypress tree, an evergreen that thrives in zones 7 to 11. It is especially useful in the south-west, where the weather is hot and dry, like its Mediterranean home. Easily the most drought-resistant of all the evergreens, the Italian Cypress clips into a solid wall of rich dark-green you will love. The dark coloring gives a touch of real class, and is cool on the eyes when the sun is blazing down.

Make Your Choice

By now you should have a much better picture of which evergreen will be an appropriate choice for your new hedge. Make sure you prepare the ground well, and give your new trees, whatever choice you make, regular water through their first growing season. Trim lightly right from the beginning, to build a sturdy, dense structure, and you are well on your way to a healthy hedge you can be proud of.

Better Planning for Your Screen or Hedge

Planting a screen along the boundary, or planting a hedge on your property, is often one of the very first things people do when they take over a new home. Maybe you have an ugly view, or need screening from neighboring houses. Perhaps you want to block out a noisy highway, or perhaps you just want a neutral, green backdrop for the garden you are creating. Whatever the reason, some early planning should come before buying, so let’s look at the key questions to ask. The answers you give will help you choose the right plant, and ensure your screen or hedge grows into a great success.

Will it Grow in My Area?

This is an obvious first question, but one that is not always asked. It is important to choose a hedging plant that is reliably hardy in your area. Something that could be damaged or killed by an unusually cold winter is not a good choice, since over the decades of the life of a hedge, that unusual event becomes a certainty, sooner or later.

Basically. there are three sturdy, reliable hedging plants that are widely recommended for different growing zones. In the coldest areas, for zones 2 to 5, the best choice is Emerald Green Arborvitae. This is an extremely hardy plant, so although it is not as fast-growing as some other evergreens, you can be sure it will not be damaged by cold, no matter where you live. For zone 5 and up, the number-one choice is Thuja Green Giant. This is the fastest growing evergreen available, and it will grow in a wide range of environments.

You will notice that in zone 5 you have a choice, and you should think about how exposed to north winds your hedge is going to be. If the site is very open and exposed, then Emerald Green Arborvitae is probably the best pick. For more normal areas you will find Thuja Green Giant will grow very well, and give excellent results.

inally, if you live in a very hot, dry area, especially in zone 8 or higher, the Italian Cypress is the best bet for you. This is a very drought-resistant evergreen, with strong upright growth and deep-green foliage. It clips into an impressive hedge, and no matter how hot it gets, it will always look perfect.

What is My Soil Like?

When it comes to soil, most evergreens are adaptable, and they will grow well in most types of soil, from sand to clay, and from acid to alkaline. More important is the drainage. If your soil is often wet, with water standing around for days, and is damp even in the hottest parts of summer, then in zones 5, 6 and 7 Emerald Green Arborvitae is your friend. For average conditions in zones 5 and up, Thuja Green Giant is by far the best choice, because it will grow well in all but the wettest places. If your soil is often dry, and you live in zone 7 or more, then, as you might expect, the Italian Cypress has got to be your first choice. However, if you are able to supply irrigation to your hedge or screen, then you can enjoy the more rapid growth and brighter color of Thuja Green Giant, all the way to zone 9.

The second consideration for soil is its pH – the acid/alkaline balance. Luckily here there is no problem with most evergreens. One of the parents of Thuja Green Giant is the Western Red Cedar, and this tree grows naturally on very acidic soils. Its other parent, Japanese Arborvitae, thrives in alkaline conditions. Their Green Giant child is happy in either, so unless your soil is very unusual, and has a pH below 4.5, you don’t need to give it a second thought. Even if you have very acidic soil, adding garden lime when you plant will fix the problem. Consult your local garden center for advice on the quantities you need – they usually know local conditions well. If you are choosing Italian Cypress, it is naturally happy in acidic soils, but it will tolerate alkaline soils well.

How Much Sun Will My Hedge Get?

Most hedges are planted in open areas, so they receive lots of sun. The major evergreens we have been discussing all thrive in full sun – so no problems there. If you are planting in a shadier area, consider the kind of shade you have. If it is from a tall building, so that you can see the open sky overhead, then you should have no problem growing Emerald Green Arborvitae or Thuja Green Giant. Sadly, Italian Cypress really needs at least 6 hours of sunlight a day, and will not grow well in any kind of continuous shade.

If you are planting underneath trees, consider if they are deciduous trees or evergreens. If they are deciduous, things should be fine, as long as the shade is not too dense and continuous all day. For those situations, or in the dark, all-year shade of evergreens, consider something more shade tolerant, such as Yew or perhaps one of the Holly Bushes. These clip into beautiful hedges, although the rate of growth will be slower.

Important considerations when planting in shadier places are water and nutrients. Shade trees take a lot of water in summer, and they also deplete the nutrient reserves in the soil. Providing some kind of irrigation, and having a regular, full-on fertilizer program for your hedge, are both things that will make a huge difference. As well, follow a ‘little but often’ trimming program, since trees in shade are naturally thinner in growth, and regular trimming will develop denser growth. Don’t wait a long time between trimming, because then you will leave your plants thin, and in shade it will take longer for them to thicken up again.

How Many Trees Do I Need?

For screens, which receive little or no trimming, we usually use a wider spacing. For smaller plants like Emerald Green Arborvitae, or Yew Trees, a 4-foot spacing is ideal. For larger plants, like Thuja Green Giant, six or eight feet apart will give you impressive results. Italian Cypress is naturally narrow and upright, and although it grows tall, 4 feet apart is ideal.

If you are planning a hedge, then reduce these distances to 2-feet apart for those smaller trees, and to 3 or 4 feet spacing for Thuja Green Giant. If you want a thick, very-dense hedge, and have the width for it, double rows, at the screening spacing above, and with 3 or 4 feet between the rows, will give you a super-solid hedge, that will block noise very effectively.

To figure out how many plants you need, just measure the length and divide by the spacing. Always add a couple of extra plants for a shorter hedge, and five or more extra for a long hedge. This is insurance against an error in your measurements. If, after planting, you have trees left over, plant them in another area, at the same spacing as your hedge. These will be useful back-ups if you lose a tree or two in the first 5 years – you can just dig them up and slot them right into the space created by that loss. They will have dense root-balls, and it is hard to get smaller plants to ‘take’ among the roots of mature hedges. After that you probably won’t need them, so transplant them around your garden as attractive accent plants.

 

If you have considered these steps, your hedge, no matter what you plant, will be an enormous success, and give you a beautiful result.

Everything You Want to Know About Thuja

Part of gardening is getting to know the background to your plants, finding out more than just their vital statistics. So rather than talk about what a great hedging plant Thuja Green Giant is, or how fast it grows, in this blog I am going to fill in some background to this tree, by telling the interesting story of Thuja as a group, and some things about the two parents of this tree.

Arborvitae or Cedar?

One thing that often confuses gardeners is the difference between the scientific names and the common names of plants. In the group scientists call ‘Thuja’, there are some trees that are commonly called ‘Cedar’, and others called ‘Arborvitae’. For example, Western Redcedar is, to a botanist or horticulturist, Thuja plicata. Its close relative, growing in eastern North America, instead of the west, is Thuja occidentalis. ‘Occidentalis’ by the way, means ‘western’, which seems odd, since this plant grows in eastern North America. However, the whole continent was west of Europe, where the first explorers came from, so to them it was certainly in the west.

Now where did this strange name Arborvitae come from? The story is an interesting one, and goes back to the arrival in North America of the French. In 1534, Jacques Cartier made his first voyage to North America, sailing round what is today Newfoundland and into the Gulf of the St. Lawrence river. He returned in 1536, but this time his crew was struck by a deadly disease – scurvy. This was a curse of long ocean voyages at that time, and the fact that it could be cured by eating citrus fruit was known to the Spanish as early as 1497, but they kept the secret, not wanting to help their enemies. Cartier had a crew of 110 men. 25 died from scurvy, and Cartier himself began to show symptoms.

In the winter of 1536, his boat was trapped in the hard-frozen ice of the St. Lawrence river, and he was on cautious but not hostile terms with the local Iroquois Indians. When he told them of the sickness he and his crew were suffering, they showed him how to make a drink called ‘aneda’ from a local plant. Cartier and his sailors used the bark from an entire tree in one week, consuming the drink in large quantities. Within a few days their symptoms disappeared, and they were well again. The cure was nothing short of miraculous, and allowed the remaining 85 men to survive the winter and return to France. Considering the life that had been restored to them, Cartier called this tree ‘Arbor Vitae’, which is Latin for Tree of Life. While the plant was later described as Thuja occidentalis, the arborvitae name stuck among ordinary folks, and has been attached to other Thuja trees ever since.

The origin of the name ‘cedar’ for these trees is not quite as exciting, but still interesting. It is a name that dates back at least to the 13th century, and was originally given to the famous Cedar of Lebanon, and other related species. These trees, known to botanists as Cedrus, have needles like spruce, and upright cones. Several closely-related species grow wild from Morocco, around the Mediterranean, and through Turkey as fast east as the Himalayas. They don’t really look like arborvitae trees at all, but with a limited vocabulary of tree names, Thuja was called ‘cedar’, perhaps because they both have aromatic wood. That fact would have been more important to most people than the shape of the leaves.

Smart gardeners use ‘arborvitae’, or ‘thuja’ for the Thuja trees, and ‘cedar’ for the Cedrus trees. That way there can be no confusion.

Western Redcedar

This majestic tree is one of the parents of Thuja Green Giant. It grows through Western North America, in Oregon, Idaho, Washington state and British Columbia. It is a giant of a tree, reaching over 200 feet tall in the wild, and living for almost 1,500 years. Native Americans built their totem poles and war canoes from it, which is why it is sometimes called ‘canoe cedar’.

This tree was discovered in the 1790s by Taddaeus Haenkel, who, despite his name, was part of the Spanish expedition of Alessandro Malaspina. On a voyage of discovery, the group sailed around the world for five years. When the expedition was in Mexico, Haenkel travelled north, and collected many plant specimens. When they returned to Spain, Malaspina was jailed for sedition, and most of their work lay unsorted for about 70 years. Some pieces were distributed, and specimens of this tree ended up with the English botanist James Donn, who published the first description in 1824. It was 1853 before seed was brought to England by William Lobb, who worked for the famous English plant nursery, Veitch. Those were the first plants grown in gardens, and some still stand in the UK.

It would be much better if we called western redcedar ‘western arborvitae’, which would then immediately connect us with its eastern cousin, and avoid confusion with the true cedars. No wonder botanists prefer to use those Latin names.

Japanese Arborvitae

This much rarer tree is the other parent of Thuja Green Giant. Called by botanists Thuja standishii, it is the only Thuja outside North America. Its presence in Japan is part of a much larger phenomenon of closely-related plants occurring on both sides of the Pacific Ocean. It is assumed that the continents were once much closer together, allowing plants to travel as seed from one side to the other. Eventually, as they separated, the related plants on both sides went their own ways, developing into different species.

The Japanese arborvitae (never called a ‘cedar’) is a medium-sized tree, usually only growing about 50 feet tall, but sometimes reaching 100 feet. It is used in Japan to make furniture, but its use was limited, because it was declared the property of the Emperor, and common people could therefore not cut it down. Because this preserved it from being cut down a lot, it is not greatly threatened by extinction from logging, as so many of the world’s trees are. It was admired and grown in gardens, which is where, in a Tokyo garden, the plant collector Robert Fortune saw it in 1860 and brought it to England. Its rather odd name comes from Standish’s Nursery, near the famous racing town of Ascot, where Fortune’s seeds were grown. It was given its botanical name in 1867, by George Gordon, an expert on conifers.

Thuja Green Giant

Now all this will not help you grow your Thuja Green Giant at all, but that is an easy task anyway, with such a vigorous and healthy tree. However, it will give you some interesting factoids to share with your neighbors when they come over and something to think about when you are out trimming your beautiful hedge.