Thuja- Arbor Vitae

Evergreen conifers with beautiful, unusually scented fresh green foliage.


Some forms are suitable for hedge making, but in winter the foliage often turns somewhat brown.

There are also fine, compact ornamental forms which can be used anywhere in the garden.


Friable sandy or loamy soil; must never be too dry.


The species from seed; cultivars from summer cuttings, also from winter cuttings.

Thuja occidentalism American arbor vitae: Height to 20 m, pyramidal shape; the twigs are flattish and densely branched. Somewhat glossy scales, yellow green, never white on the reverse.

Fine dwarf forms: ‘Globosa’, spherical shape with erect-growing branches; ‘Little Gem’, flattened spherical shape, the foliage is a little darker than in the previous form; ‘Rheingold’, to 1.5 m, compact spherical shape, fine golden-yellow foliage.

Taller forms: ‘Pyramidalis Compacta’, a fresh green column, to 3 m or more, remains green in winter, very suitable for hedge making; ‘Skogholm’, dark-green columnar shape, slow growing, an improved form of ‘Rosenthalii’; ‘Smaragd’, spherical shape, may grow to 4-7 m; ‘Wareana’, broad pyramid with vigorous, erect-growing side branches, dense foliage, vivid green; ‘Wareana Lutescens’, shaped like the previous form, but the colour is bright yellow, later turning darker. Thuja orientalis, Chinese arbor vitae: Tall shrub, to 10 m, with a dense oval shape. The scales are arranged in vertical layers, which makes the plant easy to recognise; it is a little sensitive to frost. ‘Aurea Nana’ is an oval dwarf form, slightly flattened at the top; the bright-yellow foliage turns bronze green in winter. ‘Elegantissima’ develops a narrow column, not very tall, rounded at the top; yellow green in summer, brownish in winter. Thuja plicata, western red cedar, giant arbor vitae: Height to 40 m, pyramidal growth; erect-growing twigs, little branching. The scales are green and glossy; in ‘Atrovirens’ they are very dark green and glossy. Too large for the average garden, more suitable for parks. In the form ‘Zebrina’ the foliage is irregularly streaked with golden yellow. Thuja standishii, Japanese arbor vitae: In Japan it grows to 30 m, much lower in Britain. Fairly loose habit; yellow green foliage with white streaks or blotches on reverse.

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