Donna’s Plant of the Month – Arborvitae

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There are many arborvitaes to choose from but the trick is to pick the one that best fits your needs. They come in all shapes, sizes and colors but for this month’s plant of the month pick we are focusing on those arborvitaes that are planted to provide privacy.

Why are privacy plants necessary? They can block prevailing winds, noisy neighbors, busy streets and give overall privacy to a homeowner. But, size matters. Not all arborvitaes are suitable for every site. Your arborvitae choice should depend on the amount of space that is available.

The most popular is the Green Giant arborvitae. Growing up to 40 feet tall with a spread of up to 20 feet, this massive plant needs space – lots of space! Growing up to 5 feet per year it can quickly overtake a small landscape. Because of its disease resistance the Green Giant arborvitae was a welcome substitute for the Leyland Cypress at a time when the Leyland’s many pest issues was making it a less than suitable privacy hedge.

Then came the introduction of the Emerald Green arborvitae which was a great alternative to the Green Giant. With its fast growth habit and disease resistance its smaller size of 10-12 feet tall and a 4-5 foot spread make it a great choice for a smaller area. It is still plenty tall enough to provide a barrier but it won’t tower over everything.

The most recent introduction to the arborvitae family is the Virginian arborvitae. Its middle child status comes from its halfway mark in height and spread (14 feet tall with a 6 foot spread). This arborvitae shares the same pest resistance, fast growth rate and heat and cold tolerance as its older plant siblings

All three need a well-drained soil and full sun. With a tolerance to heavy clay soils any of the three are a plus for our area. All have a dense, dark green, feathery foliage with little or no pruning needed.

If you are needing a tall hedge or screen planting for your landscape give one of these arborvitaes your consideration. None of them will disappoint.

green giant arborvitae in a row

Green Giant

row of emerald arborvitae


one virginian arborvitae in a lawn