Department of Horticulture New York State Horticulture Study Guide for Youth 4-H Logo


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Cornell University

American Arborvitae
Thuga occidentalis
(thoo-ja ox-see-den-tall-us)

American Arborvitae
Click on thumbnails for larger image.
American Arborvitae

What about it?

The arborvitae is a large, narrowleaved evergreen shrub. Arborvitae leaves are scale-like and emerge opposite each other on the stem. The leaves are yellowish-green and have a strong citrus odor went crushed. The fruit is a small, tight cone.

What is it used for?

Arborvitae has many uses: hedges, screen, windbreaks, barriers, and foundation plantings. Since it is an evergreen it makes an appealing background that provides color all year long. Arborvitae can grow up to 30 feet tall and can become very dense. It tends to branch out horizontally and become rather cone-shaped.

Where does it grow? How do we grow it?

Arborvitaes will do best in a cool, moist, and well-drained soil. They should be planted 15 feet apart; 6 feet apart for a screen effect and 3 feet apart for a hedge.

What are its primary problems?

Arborvitae is susceptible to the leaf miner and the bagworm. Its leaves also become "burned" when the site is too dry.

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Copyright, Department of Horticulture, Cornell University.