How to Fertilize Thuja Green Giant

Thuja Green Giant is certainly a fast-growing tree, and will grow happily in many different soil types. The natural rate of growth is influenced by the soil conditions it grows in, as well as the amount of light it receives, and these are not things that can be altered, but we can greatly influence the growth of this tree by using a fertilizer program, and selecting the best fertilizer to use.

Plant Nutrients

There are three main minerals needed by all plants to grow, and these are also needed by your Thuja Green Giant plants. The most important for evergreens is Nitrogen. This nutrient makes proteins, and especially chlorophyll, the green molecule that turns sun-light into plant, and gives your plants that healthy green glow. The second important nutrient is Phosphorus, which helps the tips of both roots and shoots develop and grow strongly. The third important nutrient is Potassium, which creates the pressure inside plant cells that holds the softer parts like leaves up in the air. It also makes thick cell walls that resist pests, diseases, and cold damage.

Another important nutrient for your plants is Iron. These helps make those chlorophyll molecules and gives you plants a rich green color. It is especially important if you garden on lime soils. Almost all blended fertilizers contain some iron.

Reading the Fertilizer Packet

All three of these nutrients are needed, but your Thuja plants especially need lots of nitrogen to make them grow fast, strong, and give them a healthy green color. On a packet of fertilizer you will find three numbers, looking like this: 15-19-5. The numbers will be different, and they don’t add up to 100, or any other particular number at all. The first number is nitrogen, the second is phosphorus and the third is potassium.

For your Thuja Green Giant plants you need a fertilizer that has a high first number, and the other two should be equal or lower than that nitrogen number. Numbers like 10-8-6, or 15-5-10, or 20-20-20 are all good formulas to use. Most soils in North America have plenty of phosphorus (the second number) so that one is not important at all in making your choice – it can even be ‘0’. Especially in late summer and fall, a high third number (potassium) is good for winter protection in colder areas.

To check if there is iron in the fertilizer, look for the letters ‘Fe’, which is the chemist’s abbreviation for that mineral. You will probably find a bunch of other nutrients in small quantities as well, and they all help the health of your plants.

What Type of Fertilizer should I Use?

There are three main types of fertilizers sold for gardens:

Water-soluble Fertilizers

These are the kind where you add a few teaspoons to a watering can of water, or put them in a special mixer that fits on the end of your hosepipe. They are great for producing quick growth, especially in newly planted trees with small root zones, so they are a good choice for the first season or two. However, they have to be made dilute, so as not to burn the roots, so they don’t last long in the soil, and they need to be applied every few weeks. It makes sense after that first season to switch to another type that is easier to use.

Granular Fertilizers

These look like fine gravel, often with grains of different colors, and they are either mixed into the soil when planting, or scattered over the surface around established plants. A great idea when planting is to use a fertilizer with a high middle number (phosphorus) to stimulate root growth in your young plants. This should be blended into the soil as you prepare the planting area. The nutrients will be released over a period of weeks, so you get slow and steady feeding for your plants.

Slow-release Fertilizers

These also look like gravel, but normally they will all be the same color. Most of the fertilizers of this type are a blend of nutrients wrapped inside a coating material, which allows them to be released over a long period – often several months. They are usually more expensive, but since you only need one application a season they are great for a low-maintenance garden.

Fertilizer Spikes

These are fertilizer shaped into a spike which is gently hammered into the ground. They slowly dissolve and feed your trees. Be careful to follow the recommendations for the spacing and number to use, and always put them well away from the trunks of your plants.

How and When to Fertilize Thuja Green Giant

The best time to feed your plants is in early spring, just before the new growth begins. This is after the risk of hard frost is mostly gone and the days are becoming a little warmer – what month exactly will depend on where you live. Always follow the directions on the packet to know how much to use per plant or per square foot. Too much fertilizer is worse than none at all. Spread it evenly over the area beneath your trees, and include the area a couple of feet further out as well, which will be where the active, growing roots are. If you are using a water-soluble feed, apply plenty and let it soak down into all the root zone.

Water-soluble solutions should be re-applied every three or four weeks throughout the growing season. Granular fertilizers usually need re-applying in early summer and again in early fall. Slow-release formulations and spikes only need to be applied in spring.

Avoid fertilizing your trees during hot, dry weather, or water them thoroughly after putting down fertilizer.

It doesn’t matter much which kind of fertilizer you choose to use – it only affects the method and frequency of application. Whatever you choose, a good fertilizer program for your Thuja Green Giant trees will make sure you have the fastest-growing and healthiest plants around.

Trimming Your Thuja Green Giant Hedge

 

Thuja Green Giant makes a perfect hedge – dense, upright and always green and healthy. It is fast growing, so you will soon have the screening and backdrop for your garden that you are looking for. Taking some simple steps in trimming it properly will help you grow a hedge that will not only look good, but will also be healthy, strong, and resistant to snow and storms. With a little care your hedge will always be green and dense right to the ground – just like you wanted it to be.

Start Trimming Soon After Planting

The commonest mistake made with hedges is to wait until they reach the height you want and then start trimming. This approach will never give you a strong dense hedge, so instead you need to start early. As soon as your new plants are established – and you can tell that by the appearance of new growth – you should start trimming them very lightly. At first, you just need to go along the line and snip off an inch or two or the longer new shoots. This will encourage your plants to send out more side-shoots, and develop a denser pattern of growth. Allow the hedge to grow a little, and then trim lightly again. Gradually let it grow to the size you want, and it will already be neat and dense when it gets there.

When to Trim Thuja Green Giant

You can trim your hedge at most times of year, but the best times are late summer to early fall, or late spring, after the new growth has sprouted out and ripened. You may need to trim at both times if your hedge is young and growing vigorously. If you want a very neat hedge at all times, then you can also trim in summer, but do it before the hottest part of the year begins. If you live in a warm area with mild winters, then you can trim just about any time, although you should still avoid the heat of summer and the coldest part of winter.

Slope the Sides

For green parts of plants to grow, they need sunshine and light. If the top of your hedge is wide, then the lower parts will get less light, and become woody and twiggy, with little or no green shoots. So right from the start you should slope the sides inwards by a few degrees so that the top is thinner than the bottom. Imagine that you laid a long pole against the hedge, leaning inwards slightly. All the shoots that stick above that pole need to be cut off, so that you have a flat surface that leans in by maybe five degrees. A common mistake is to make the sides vertical, and then just taper the last foot or two. This is wrong – the whole side should slope, right from the ground.

If you grow your hedge in this way, it will have healthy green growth right to the ground for the longest possible time. It also means that with a thinner top and with sloping sides snow and ice will fall off easily, not build up on the top and break the hedge. If you do this you not only keep your hedge healthy and green right to the ground, you protect it against snow breakage too.

Trim Your Hedge the Right Way

When you do the actual trimming, keep the shoots horizontal. This means stopping them from growing as long, upward shoots on the outside of the hedge. Aim for a brush-cut, not a comb-over! These long shoots can easily become dislodged, or break under snow, and if they break or die they can leave a large hole that will take a long time to fill back in.

Trim from side to side and even down from top to bottom – not just up from bottom to top. This will prevent long shoots developing and give your hedge a dense, full surface. Start trimming at one end, and start trim from the bottom up. There will be less growth at the bottom to cut off, so that sets the base of the slope you are going to create. As you trim higher up, you will notice that to keep the slope even you are cutting off longer shoots and more of the hedge. This is normal and correct. The upper growth is always more vigorous and by removing more you will prevent it from drawing food and water away from the bottom. This, and letting the light in, is how you keep the bottom thick and healthy.

If you planted your hedge along a path or driveway, you already have a line to follow to keep it level. If it doesn’t, then especially while you are training it, a tight string stretched from one end to the other along the ground makes a good guide for you to. Work steadily along, trimming all the way to the top in each section, but don’t trim the top flat yet.

Once you have a nice even slope, and a flat surface all along the hedge you can think about the top. Thuja Green Giant can be trimmed square or rounded, it is your choice, but a rounded trim will shed snow better if you live in an area with heavy winter storms. Use a long pole with a mark on it leaning against the hedge to show you the height, so that you get an even, level top – it looks so much better that way!

It is important to realize that only stems with green growth on them will send out new shoots. Never cut into a branch so hard that it is just a bare stem. These will never sprout again. This is another reason to start trimming early in the life of your hedge, because If you let it become overgrown, it will be hard or even impossible to get it back to size, without leaving bare stumps that will never grow.

 

So start trimming early in the life of your hedge, and trim regularly, at least once a year. This way you will have a neat, dense, healthy and beautiful hedge for many years to come.

How Fast Will My Thuja Green Giant Grow?

 

When you start a new garden, or update an older one, a critical feature is privacy – and exactly how to get it. Hedges and screens are a cheaper, longer lasting and much more attractive option than fences, but they do take a little time to develop. So when we put in a hedge or privacy screen, you want to choose something that will give you really fast growth, and this is where Thuja standishii x plicata ‘Green Giant’ stands out. This great evergreen is deer-proof, easy to grow, hardy across most of the country, and attractive every day of the year. As if that was not enough, it is also one of the fastest growing evergreens there is. Period.

Thuja Green Giant Growth Rate

So just how fast will this tree grow? Three feet a year is normal in the early years. Up to five feet a year is possible, under ideal conditions. With growth rates like that, after a few short years you have 15 foot, 20 foot and soon 30 to 40 feet trees. The growth stays upright and narrow, so you get the height, but they won’t get too fat around, or crowd your garden.

The actual growth rate you get also depends a little on you, since to get that maximum growth rate your trees need a good supply of nutrients and water. Choose a high quality plant food formulated for evergreens, and you are off to a good start. Choose a modern, slow-release fertilizer for the very best results, because they feed continuously, not in bursts. Follow the manufacturer’s directions and don’t put on more than recommended. Extra will do more harm than good. Water regularly, but let the soil dry a little between each watering. Always soak the soil completely, and water over a large area that covers all the roots, not just up against the trunk of your trees. Slow watering over a few hours is much better than putting on a lot in a few minutes.

Proven Fast Growth

You don’t have to just take my word for it, scientific tests have been done that show just how fast this plant will grow. In the plant department at the University of Arkansas a few years back, they planting many different trees and shrubs in a trial to see how fast they would grow. The started with some very tiny plants given them by local nurseries, and planted them out in a field. They got a little fertilizer in the beginning, and some water during dry weather, but otherwise they were left alone. Each year the scientists measured the plants, and took notes.

What they found was amazing. Thuja Green Giant outgrew every other plant in the field. It never got sick or harboured pests, and it always looked great. Seven years later, from a tiny little plant pushed into the ground, they had a monster ten feet tall – that’s right, almost twice as tall as a person, a big, green, giant of a plant that had grown faster and stronger than any other plant in that field.

Now remember, they started with tiny plants maybe a foot tall. If you use good-sized plants that are already 5-6 feet tall, you will get even better results. Those plants have stronger roots and they will start growing even faster. So, if you add that 10 feet to the 5 you start with, and allow for the faster growth of older trees, your screen will be 15 feet tall in 5-6 years. That is truly remarkable, and unbeatable with an evergreen tree.

Why Does this Tree Grow so Fast?

Many people wonder why some trees grow faster than others, and the answer can be pretty interesting.  Everyone knows about gene mutations and bad genes these days, and every living thing has them. They stop all the systems of life running at peak efficiency and limit what a plant can do. However, in plants, it is possible for two different species to cross-pollinate and make a hybrid, and that is how Thuja Green Giant was born.

A seedling that grew by chance in a nursery in Denmark, it was the child of two different Thuja species, the Japanese Thuja and Western Redcedar. These come from opposite sides of the Pacific Ocean and had never met before. Both of them had some bad genes, but each had different bad genes, so when they crossed the cancelled out each other’s bad ones, making a plant that ran on all cylinders, at peak performance. Plant breeders call this hybrid vigor, and many of our food crops have it too.

So this is why Thuja Green Giant is able to outgrow just about anything else in your garden. You really can’t find a better fast growing evergreen for perfect screens and hedges.

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