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Thuja plicata
Thuja plicata

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Zones A3, 1-9, 14-24, 32-37, 39
Full SunPartial Sun
Full, Partial
Ample WaterRegular Water
Ample, Moderate

Thuja plicata

Western Red Cedar
Evergreen, Shrubs, Trees


Neat, symmetrical plants often trimmed into geometrical forms—globes, cones, and cylinders. Juvenile foliage is feathery, with small, needlelike leaves; mature foliage is scalelike, carried in flat sprays. Foliage in better-known varieties is often yellow green or bright golden yellow. Small cones are green or bluish green, turning to brownish. Arborvitaes will take both damp and fairly dry soils, but they grow best in well-drained soil.

Thuja plicata

Native from coastal Northern California northward to Alaska and inward to Montana. Plants grown from inland seed are hardy anywhere in the West; those from coastal seed are less hardy to cold. Can reach over 200 ft. tall in the coastal belt of Washington, but a more typical garden size is 50–100 ft. tall and 25–60 ft. wide. Slender, drooping branchlets are closely set with dark green leaf sprays. Single trees are magnificent in large lawns, but bear in mind that their lower branches spread quite broadly—and that the trees lose their characteristic beauty if these are cut off. Many compact varieties are available, some with gold to yellow foliage.

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