How To Grow Thuja Occidentalis {My Best Tips}

Thuja occidentalis is an evergreen coniferous tree, which is prized by many as a beautiful ornamental plant. But how to grow thuja occidentalis, I hear you cry? Well, read on for all the information you will ever need if you want to grow this lovely plant in your own garden!

How To Grow Thuja Occidentalis

How To Grow Thuja Occidentalis

My Thujas – Brabant and Smaragd

There are quite a few different varieties of thuja, but the methods for growing and caring for them are pretty much the same.

  • You will almost certainly want this fast-growing shrub planted in the ground, where it can grow into a fantastic hedge and screening plant.
  • When planting it as a hedge, space the plants around 70-80cm apart, to allow them enough space to grow and spread.
  • Dig a wide, deep hole that is twice as wide as the root ball itself and as deep, then place the young plant into the soil and firm up around the bottom and edges.
  • It will need a thorough watering just after you have planted it, and you should water it again regularly until it is well established.
  • Thuja can tolerate a wide range of soil types, as long as you ensure that any soil it is planted in is well draining – this plant will not like being waterlogged.
  • You can site this plant in almost any light conditions, from full sun to partial shade, and some types will even tolerate full shade.
  • Give it an annual feed with a balanced, slow-release fertiliser which is designed for evergreen plants, to give it a boost of nutrients and help to keep it strong.
  • This plant is extremely cold hardy, but it may well benefit from a layer of mulch to keep the roots protected during harsh winters.

Here is an article which will tell you everything you need to know about growing thuja occidentalis.

How Long Does It Take For Thuja Occidentalis To Grow

If you are looking for a super fast-growing hedge plant, you may be a little disappointed – this one does not grow as fast as some others.

It will take about a year for thuja occidentalis to grow 12 inches – but it can grow up to 14 feet high once fully established!

One of the great things about this plant is that it naturally grows into a pyramid shape; perfect for ornamental hedges.

The foliage of a healthy thuja plant is bright emerald green and densely packed, making it ideal for adding some colour and texture into your garden.

Can Thuja Occidentalis Grow In Pots

The short answer is yes, you can grow these gorgeous greens in a pot. They will not grow as large, but there is the added bonus of being able to move them around!

Make sure that you choose a good-sized pot, that is big enough for the roots to spread as the plant grows.

Choose sandy, acidic, well-draining soils for your potted thuja, as this is what they like to grow in the most.

You don’t have to worry too much about light, as this plant is tolerant to shade – just make sure it gets some direct sunlight throughout the day.

You will have to water more often than you would if it was in the soil, as containers tend to lose moisture quicker and the roots cannot spread as far.

Give it an annual feed to keep it healthy – go for an all-purpose, slow release fertiliser for the best results.

In the winter, you can either move your potted thuja to a warmer place, or mulch around the roots with sheep fleece or compost, to keep the roots warm.

As long as you stick to the conditions they like best, you can keep your thuja perfectly happy in a pot!

If you want to grow your thuja in a pot – and learn how to cultivate it from seed – then this video is for you:


What Is The Lifespan Of A Thuja Tree?

These trees are a bit of an investment, it has to be said – with the right conditions, they can live to up to 40 years old.

Obviously, if any plant is kept in less than ideal conditions then it won’t last as long – but as this one is relatively unfussy, you should be able to keep it going.

With freely draining soil, plenty of water, a yearly feed and enough space to grow, your thuja tree can be a garden companion for a good long time!

They don’t grow especially fast, which is another reason for the longer lifespan – plants that go all out tend to live shorter lives than those that take their time.

So although your thuja may not grow especially fast, this means it will be gracing your garden for longer than some other plants!

Is Thuja Low Maintenance

For those of us who have little time or inclination for gardening, this plant is a great bet – you can pretty much leave it to its own devices!

Once it is established, thuja will happily just do its own thing. As long as you remember to water it, it will quietly get on with the business of growing and thriving.

Also remember the annual feed, especially if you are growing in a pot, so that this plant will do you proud with its healthy, attractive foliage.

It is a good idea to give it a little haircut once a year (although for some varieties, e.g. Smaragd, even that is not required) – this will help you to maintain the shape you want, and will also help to encourage new growth the following year.

Final Words

So there you have it – this beautiful plant is surprisingly easy to grow, as you can see, and it will make a lovely addition to your garden.

As long as you take care to site it at least 6-8 feet from your house, driveway or the road, you should be able to enjoy thuja for a good long time (and make very little effort to do so!)

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