Arborvitae Comparisons

Published On: January 28th, 2023

North pole thuja - Proven Winners

Arborvitae, also known as White Cedar, is a popular plant for evergreen screening and hedging. Due to its hardiness and year-round appeal, it is also frequently used in foundation plantings and mixed borders. It comes in a tremendous range of sizes and forms, ranging from 18” compact balls to towering 50’ giants. Arborvitae is an evergreen that has supple, fan-like foliage that provides a softer appearance than needled evergreens.

To help you to select the Arborvitae that will work best in your garden or landscape, we’ve put together a comparison chart, which you can find below.

Cultivar Size Botanical Name Growth Rate Hardiness Special Characteristics Winter Color
Amber Gold 15’H x 3’W Thuja occidentalis ‘Jantar’  PP22,296 Moderate Zone 4 Lime green foliage edged in bright yellow Amber gold
Anna’s Magic Ball® 1’H x 1’W Thuja occidentalis ‘Anna Van Vloten’ PP25,868 Slow Zone 3 Yellow foliage, super compact Yellow
DeGroot’s Spire 28’H x 3’W Thuja occidentalis ‘DeGroot’s Spire’ Moderate Zone 3 Very narrow, distinctive twisted foliage Green
Fire Chief™ 3’H x 3’W  Thuja occidentalis ‘Congabe’ PP19,009 Slow Zone 5 Red tipped foliage, compact Orange
Full Speed A Hedge®/American Pillar 20’H x 4’W Thuja occidentalis ‘American Pillar’ PP20,209 Fast Zone 4 Rapid growth, narrow habit Green
Green Giant 50’H x 15’W Thuja x plicata ‘Green Giant’ Fast Zone 5 Very fast growing/Deer resistant Bronze
Hetz Midget 2’H x 3’W  Thuja occidentalis ‘Hetz Midget’ Slow Zone 3 Dense compact globe Bronze
Holmstrup 5’H x 2’W Thuja occidentalis ‘Holmstrup’ Moderate Zone 3 Compact, upright Green
Junior Giant 18’H x 10’W Thuja x plicata  ‘Junior Giant’ PP31297 Moderate Zone 5 Great for screening/Deer resistant Bronze/Green
Lemon Burst® 5’H x 3’W Thuja occidentalis ‘RutThu3’ PPAF Moderate Zone 4 Yellow foliage, broadly pyramidal Orange
Little Giant 4’H x 4’W Thuja occidentalis ‘Little Giant’ Slow Zone 3 Natural globe shape Green
Mr Bowling Ball® 2’H x 2’W Thuja occidentalis ‘Bobazam’ Slow Zone 4 Compact habit, feathery foliage
North Pole® 12’H x 4’W Thuja occidentalis ‘Art Boe’ PP 22,174 Fast Zone 3 Very narrow, strongly pyramidal Dark green
Northern Spire 16’H x 4’W Thuja x plicata ‘Northern Spire’ PP31,298 Moderate Zone Dense columnar habit/Deer resistant Bronze
Planet Earth® 4’H x 4’W Thuja occidentalis ”RutThu4′ PPAF Slow Zone 4 Perfectly round, dense Bronze
Smaragd/Emerald Green 20’H x 5’W Thuja occidentalis ‘Smaragd’ Moderate Zone 3 Upright, narrow form Green
Spring Grove® 25’H x 10’W Thuja plicata ‘Grovepli’ Fast Zone 5 Highly resistant to deer browsing Dark Green
Technito® 10’H x 4’W Thuja occidentalis ‘BailJohn’ PP15,850 Moderate Zone 3 Dense, compact, pyramidal Dark green
Techny 15’H x 6’W Thuja occidentalis ‘Techny’ Fast Zone 3 Compact, broad-based, upright, pyramidal Dark green
Whipcord 4’H x 4’W Thuja x plicata ‘Whipcord’ Slow Zone 5  Pendulous whipcord-like foliage/Deer Resistant Bronze

Deer Browsing

The only real weakness of Arborvitae as a landscape plant is the fact that it is vulnerable to deer browsing, particularly during the winter months. Deer repellents or physical barriers, such as burlap or wire wrap, will offer protection from winter browsing. The Western Arborvitae (Thuja plicata) is resistant to deer damage and hybrids with T. plicata parentage are less likely to suffer deer damage than other Arborvitae.

Arborvitae in a Nutshell:

  • Mature height: 2’-50’, depending on variety
  • Mature spread: 2’-15’, depending on variety
  • Light requirement: Full sun to light shade
  • Growth form: Dense compact globe to tall narrow column, depending on variety
  • USDA Hardiness Zone: Zone 3-5, depending on variety
  • Foliage Color: Depending on variety includes brilliant yellow, emerald green, amber/orange, and dark green. Some varieties take on a bronze tone during the winter months but green up again in spring.
  • Water Requirements: Average. Make sure to water well before ground freezes so that plants can pull moisture from soil during winter thaws, which minimizes winter burn of the evergreen foliage.
  • Growth Rate: Inches to feet per year, depending on variety
  • Maintenance: Low maintenance. Most naturally keep an attractive, dense form. Pruning, if desired, should be done in late spring or early summer. Never remove any more than 1/3 of the live foliage. Arborvitae, like most conifers, are intolerant of hard pruning and will not produce new growth on older bare branches, so don’t cut into the brown part of the plant.

Especially valuable for:

  • Screening
  • Hedges
  • Foundation plantings (dwarf varieties)
  • Birds (winter shelter & food source)
annas magic ball thuja
Thuja Spring Grove photo courtesy of Proven Winners

Photos courtesy of Proven Winners –

By Zannah Crowe