Thuja Green Giant Arborvitae
If you’re looking for a fast-growing evergreen tree, look no further than Thuja ‘Green Giant’ Arborvitae. This tall evergreen plant is perfect for privacy screening, fast-growing shade (when planted on the south side of a property lot) and winter color when everything else in the landscape is brown and dreary. No wonder Thuja Green Giant won the distinguished Pennsylvania Horticultural Society’s Gold Medal Plant Award in 1998.
Growing Zone: 4 – 9
Mature Height: 50 to 60 feet
Mature Width: 15 to 18 feet
Sunlight: Full Sun
Foliage color: Dark Green
Soil Conditions: Adaptable
Water Req: Avg. Soil
Growth Rate: 3-5 feet year
Does Not Ship To: CA, WA, OR, AZ
Thuja ‘Green Giant’ Arborvitae grows almost everywhere. It is hardy in USDA zones 4-9, which covers a huge portion of the United States. From the Northeast to the Southeast to the Midwest, Thuja ‘Green Giant’ is the hedging and screening plant of choice. It isn’t picky about soil and will grow in sandy soils and heavy clay soils equally well. It is also practically maintenance-free. The only major maintenance is hedge shearing after several years of growth. Unlike some evergreen plants, Thuja ‘Green Giant’ has few pest and disease problems. If you’ve had problems with Leyland Cypress in your yard, this plant is a great replacement. The flat, delicate, dark-green foliage emits a pleasantly sweet aroma when crushed.
Possibly the best feature of this evergreen is that deer don’t favor the taste. What’s the point in planting a beautiful evergreen if you have to cover it up with burlap or deer netting every winter? Thuja ‘Green Giant’ does just fine without those ugly protections. Because of its ease of care and maintenance, Thuja ‘Green Giant’ is a perfect choice for any homeowner who needs a fast-growing evergreen tree for privacy. Arborvitae Green Giant can be used as a screening buffer for privacy, or as a bold focal point when planted as a specimen due to the dark green coloring of the foliage. Green Giant trees make a great windbreak, standing up to the strongest of winter winds. Wind breaks are a perfect way to reduce your heating bills in the winter time by blocking the cold winds that sneak into the house and create a chilly environment. They can also be used to block the low setting sun which tends due to the low angle in the evenings heat up the outer walls of homes and comes through the windows and raises the temperature in a room quickly. When creating a wind break or privacy hedge its important to know how far apart to space your plants. Thuja trees can be planted as close as 8 feet apart and as far apart as 10 to 12 feet. How soon you want privacy is the major concern when deciding how close to plant you newly purchased trees. Obviously planting them closer together will reach the privacy goal faster. An even better method of creating a privacy hedge which can also act as a sound buffer is to plant in a staggered row. Basically you plant one row of trees and then plant another row 6 to 8 feet in front of the first row filling in the gaps between the plants. This method creates instant privacy and will virtually eliminate unwanted sounds once it fills in.
Growth Rate of the Thuja Green Giant Arborvitae:
Thuja Green Giant Arborvitae grows rapidly and once established gains more than 3 feet of height every year. In some areas of the Pacific Northwest, “Green Giant” arborvitae reaches heights of up to 200 feet. However, the tree more commonly reaches mature heights of 50 to 70 feet with a spread of up to 25 feet. “Green Giant” arborvitae is a versatile tree that thrives in bright sunlight or partial shade. In its natural environment, the tree grows in boggy areas and along river banks. Although the tree grows in nearly any moist, well-drained soil, it doesn’t tolerate soggy, poorly drained areas. Because Thuja Green Giant arborvitae is so large, it is best suited for growing in roomy landscapes and large spaces such as parks. The tree makes an effective windbreak.
How to Plant a Thuja Green Giant Arborvitae:
Never plant trees deeper than originally planted in the pot. Doing so can cause rotting of the stem and death to the tree. Thuja Green Giant Arborvitaes are very drought tolerant, however they grow very slow without adequate water. Staking young trees is recommended. When tying trees to stakes remember the tree will continue to grow. Loosely tie the Thuja Green Giant Arborvitae with several twist ties to allow for growth. Check trees every three months and loosen as needed. If this is not done, the twist tie will grow into the tree causing injury. The one question that comes up often, “when is the best time to plant.”? For the most part, container trees can be planted year around, provided the ground isn’t frozen. Below Virginia many nurseries and Christmas tree growers field plant year around, weather permitting. When planting a potted Thuja Green Giant Arborvitae, remember the only water source the tree has, is its small root ball, and all the water the tree uses must come from there until new roots can grow into the surrounding soil.
How to Use a Thuja Green Giant as a Privacy Screen:
Thuja Green Giant Arborvitae is hardy to Zone 4. It is a pyramidal tree, which can reach up to 50 feet tall and up to 18 feet wide which makes it good for tall screen. It is graceful, and somewhat open in habit of growth. Give Thuja Green Giant Arborvitae trees ample room, to allow for symmetry of growth. It grows well in a variety of soils, but prefers good drainage. The Thuja Green Giant Arborvitae tree is great if you need to create fast privacy for your home. It’s a fast growing tree growing around 2-3 feet per year where its happy. We recommend planting Thuja Green Giant Arborvitae in a line with about 5 feet apart from each other to create quick privacy, however they can be planted at 10 to 12 foot intervals if you don’t mind waiting a bit for privacy. When planting alone the tree takes on a pyramidal shape and can be grown as a specimen tree to break sight-lines. Double row plantings of Thuja Green Giant Arborvitae are a great way to not only create privacy but to reduce noise from a busy roadway adjacent to your property for example.
How to Water a Thuja Green Giant Arborvitae:
After back filling and lightly compacting the 50/50 mix of existing soil and compost give the plant a good deep watering. This is not to be rushed. most of the water you put on the plant at first will run away from the plant until the soil is soaked. A general rule of thumb is to count to 5 for every one gallon of pot size. For example a one gallon pot would be watered until you count to 5 a three gallon pot would be 15 and so on. Check the plant daily for the first week or so and then every other day there after. Water using the counting method for the first few weeks. More plants die from being over-watered rather than under-watered.
How to Mulch a Thuja Green Giant Arborvitae:
We highly recommend that you mulch your plants with either a ground hardwood mulch or a ground cypress mulch depending on your local availability. Any type of mulch will do but cypress or hardwood mulch will be of a higher quality and provide better nutrition overall as they breakdown. Mulching helps to keep weeds away which will compete with your new investment for water and nutrients. A 2 to 3 inch layer of mulch is sufficient but remember to take care not to cover any part of the stem of the plant with mulch. Its better to leave a one inch gap of space between the mulch and the stem or trunk of the plant.
How to Fertilize a Thuja Green Giant Arborvitae:
We recommend when planting your Thuja Green Giant Arborvitae to use Bio-tone starter fertilizer by Espoma. We have tried many so called “starter fertilizers” over the years and have come to rely on Bio-tone exclusively for our own use. Simply mix the recommended amount of Bio-tone into the back-fill soil and water in generously when back-filled. Bio-tone® Starter Plus is an all-natural plant food that is combined with a stronger concentration of our beneficial bacteria along with both endo and ecto mycorrhizae. Basically the “good” fungus in Bio-tone colonizes on the growing roots of your newly planted plant and does not allow disease causing fungus to attack the new roots. It has also shown promise in stimulating the growth of the new roots which means quicker establishment for you plant.
After establishment and during the following years we recommend Holly-tone used at the recommended rates. It is also organic and slow release which will feed your trees the proper amount of nutrients over a period of time rather than all at once which can burn the root tips and actually have the opposite effect of slowing down plant growth. It also will help to maintain the acid level in the soil that Thuja Green Giant Arborvitaes need to thrive.
How to Prune a Thuja Green Giant Arborvitae:
Thuja Green Giant Arborvitae trees take on a tall, broad-based, pyramidal shape if left un-pruned. However, a young tree can be trained and its growth restrained if pruning is done on a regular basis. The Thuja Green Giant Arborvitae does best when grown with a single leader and extra main stems should be removed at planting. The tree’s overall growth can be controlled by pruning its side branches annually, cutting back each branch back by about one-third, and by topping the tree slightly during each pruning session. For trees planted in a row, you could also prune them into a formal hedge by shearing back the entire outer-facing portion of each tree two or three times each year, allowing the tree surfaces that face each other to grow unchecked. Both fertilizing and major pruning of the Thuja Green Giant Arborvitae trees are best done in early spring, before the tree begins its annual growth. Pruning at this time also allows removal of any branches that were damaged by strong wind or snow and ice over the winter. Arborvitae trees also respond well to light pruning or shearing later in the growing season, at any time between spring and early-to-mid summer. However, avoid pruning a tree in late summer or fall, since pruning stimulates new growth, which is tender and easily damaged by dropping temperatures in fall and winter.
History and Lore of the Thuja Green Giant Arborvitae:
In 1967, a single plant reputed to be Thuja (standishii x plicata) was received from D.T. Poulsen, Kvistgaard, Denmark, and planted at the U.S. National Arboretum. This plant exhibited exceptional landscape quality and propagation material was distributed. In the distribution process, the name and identity of this clone became confused with that of another arborvitae from the same source, T. occidentalis ‘Giganteoides’. The identity of the exceptional clone as the T. (standishii x plicata) hybrid was resolved by Susan Martin, USNA, Kim Trip, New York Botanic Garden, and Robert Marquard, Holden Arboretum, through extensive records searches, nursery inspections, and isozyme analysis. The name Thuja ‘Green Giant’ was selected to identify and promote this clone.
Thuja Green Giant arborvitae grows naturally in the West and has long been valued by Native Americans for construction of canoes or totem poles. Today, the tree is used to make boards, shingles and siding.