American Arborvitae (Thuja Occidentalis ‘Danica’)

Plant: Table of Contents

American Arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis ‘Danica’)

American arborvitae, scientifically known as Thuja occidentalis ‘Danica’, is a compact and slow-growing evergreen shrub that belongs to the cypress family Cupressaceae. This plant is highly valued for its ornamental features, making it a popular choice for landscaping, privacy screens, and container gardening. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the various aspects of American arborvitae, focusing on its culture, uses, care requirements, maintenance, and common issues.

What is American Arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis ‘Danica’)?

American arborvitae, a native to North America, is commonly referred to as eastern arborvitae or northern white cedar. It is a versatile and hardy plant, characterized by its dense, compact growth habit and scale-like foliage. The ‘Danica’ variety is particularly notable for its dwarf and globe-shaped form, making it an excellent choice for small gardens, rockeries, and formal landscapes.

Key Takeaways – American Arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis ‘Danica’)

Before we delve into the specific aspects of American arborvitae care and maintenance, let’s highlight the key takeaways that will be covered in this guide:

  1. American Arborvitae Varieties
  2. Thuja occidentalis ‘Danica’ Care
  3. Growing American Arborvitae
  4. American Arborvitae Landscaping
  5. Thuja occidentalis ‘Danica’ Pruning
  6. American Arborvitae Pests and Diseases
  7. Thuja occidentalis ‘Danica’ Size
  8. American Arborvitae Planting Tips
  9. Thuja occidentalis ‘Danica’ Maintenance
  10. American Arborvitae for Privacy
  11. Thuja occidentalis ‘Danica’ Growth Rate
  12. American Arborvitae Hedge
  13. Thuja occidentalis ‘Danica’ Spacing
  14. American Arborvitae Uses
  15. Thuja occidentalis ‘Danica’ Characteristics
  16. American Arborvitae Propagation
  17. Thuja occidentalis ‘Danica’ Landscape Design
  18. American Arborvitae Pruning Techniques
  19. Thuja occidentalis ‘Danica’ Soil Requirements
  20. American Arborvitae Container Gardening
  21. Thuja occidentalis ‘Danica’ Dwarf Variety
  22. American Arborvitae Screen Planting
  23. Thuja occidentalis ‘Danica’ Sunlight Requirements
  24. American Arborvitae Companion Plants
  25. Thuja occidentalis ‘Danica’ Water Needs
  26. American Arborvitae Foliage Color
  27. Thuja occidentalis ‘Danica’ Winter Care
  28. American Arborvitae Root System
  29. Thuja occidentalis ‘Danica’ Soil Drainage
  30. American Arborvitae Deer Resistance
  31. Thuja occidentalis ‘Danica’ Landscape Uses
  32. American Arborvitae Wind Tolerance
  33. Thuja occidentalis ‘Danica’ Container Size
  34. American Arborvitae Pruning Schedule
  35. Thuja occidentalis ‘Danica’ Wildlife Habitat
  36. American Arborvitae Fall Color
  37. Thuja occidentalis ‘Danica’ Evergreen Characteristics
  38. American Arborvitae Drought Tolerance
  39. Thuja occidentalis ‘Danica’ Companion Shrubs
  40. American Arborvitae Privacy Screen
  41. Thuja occidentalis ‘Danica’ Landscape Maintenance
  42. American Arborvitae Disease Resistance
  43. Thuja occidentalis ‘Danica’ Mulching Tips
  44. American Arborvitae Growth Habits
  45. Thuja occidentalis ‘Danica’ Winter Hardiness
  46. American Arborvitae Soil pH Preference
  47. Thuja occidentalis ‘Danica’ Year-Round Interest
  48. American Arborvitae Windbreak Planting
  49. Thuja occidentalis ‘Danica’ Groundcover
  50. American Arborvitae Urban Gardening

By covering these key points, we aim to provide a comprehensive understanding of American arborvitae and how to care for this splendid plant.



American arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis ‘Danica’) is utilized in various horticultural and landscaping applications due to its desirable characteristics. Some of its primary uses include:

  • Landscaping: The compact and globe-shaped form of ‘Danica’ makes it an ideal choice for formal gardens, rockeries, and as a border plant.
  • Privacy Screens: It is commonly utilized as a dense hedge or screening plant to create privacy in outdoor spaces.
  • Container Gardening: The dwarf nature of ‘Danica’ makes it suitable for container planting, adding ornamental value to patios, balconies, and small garden spaces.
  • Rock Gardens: Its slow growth and compact size make it suitable for rock garden settings, adding a touch of greenery and texture.


Proper watering is essential for the healthy growth and vigor of American arborvitae plants. Here are some essential points to consider regarding watering:

  • Established Plants: Once established, American arborvitae has good drought tolerance and generally does not require frequent watering, except during prolonged dry periods.
  • Young Plants: Newly planted or young American arborvitae plants should be watered regularly to aid in root establishment. Ensure the soil is kept consistently moist but not waterlogged.
  • Signs of Overwatering: Watch out for signs of overwatering, such as yellowing or browning of foliage, and adjust the watering frequency accordingly.
  • Watering Method: Water at the base of the plant, ensuring that the root zone receives adequate moisture. Avoid overhead watering, especially in the late afternoon or evening, to prevent fungal diseases.


American arborvitae thrives in full to partial sunlight, making it suitable for a range of garden settings. Here are essential points to consider regarding sunlight requirements:

  • Full Sun: ‘Danica’ prefers full sun to partial shade, where it can receive at least 6 hours of direct sunlight daily for optimal growth.
  • Shade Tolerance: While it prefers full sun, it can tolerate partial shade, especially in hot climates or during the intense afternoon sun.
  • Indoor Conditions: When grown as a container plant, ensure it receives adequate sunlight by placing it near a sunny window or in a brightly lit indoor space.


Proper fertilization can significantly enhance the growth and vitality of American arborvitae. Here are some essential points to consider regarding fertilizing ‘Danica’:

  • Timing: Fertilize in early spring before the start of the growing season to provide essential nutrients for vigorous spring growth.
  • Fertilizer Type: Choose a balanced, slow-release fertilizer formulated for evergreen shrubs or use a specific formulation for arborvitae plants.
  • Application Method: Apply the fertilizer evenly around the root zone, avoiding direct contact with the stems. Water the plant thoroughly after application to aid in nutrient absorption.
  • Avoid Overfertilization: Overfertilization can lead to excessive foliage growth at the expense of root development, making the plant more susceptible to drought and environmental stress.


The soil composition is crucial for the overall health and vigor of American arborvitae plants. Here are essential points to consider regarding soil requirements:

  • Well-Draining Soil: ‘Danica’ thrives in well-draining, loamy soils with good aeration. Avoid heavy clay soils that retain excess moisture.
  • Soil pH: It prefers slightly acidic to neutral soil with a pH ranging from 6.0 to 7.5. Conduct a soil test to determine the pH and make amendments if necessary.
  • Soil Amendments: Incorporate organic matter such as compost or well-rotted manure when planting to improve soil structure and fertility.
  • Container Mix: When growing in containers, use a well-draining potting mix designed for woody plants or formulate a mix using peat moss, perlite, and compost.


Pruning is an essential aspect of American arborvitae maintenance to maintain its compact form and promote healthy growth. Here are some essential points to consider regarding pruning ‘Danica’:

  • Timing: Prune American arborvitae in late winter to early spring before the onset of new growth. Avoid pruning in late summer or early fall, as it can stimulate new growth that may not harden off before winter.
  • Sanitize Tools: Use clean, sharp pruning shears or loppers to make precise cuts, minimizing the risk of disease transmission.
  • Pruning Techniques: Trim the outer foliage and branches to maintain the desired shape and density. Avoid cutting back into old wood, as it may not produce new growth.
  • Minimal Pruning: ‘Danica’ generally requires minimal pruning due to its naturally compact and dense growth habit. Simply remove any dead, damaged, or crossing branches as needed.


Propagating American arborvitae allows for the expansion of your plant collection and the preservation of specific cultivars. Here are some essential points to consider regarding propagation techniques:

  • Propagation Methods: American arborvitae can be propagated from semi-hardwood cuttings taken in late summer or early fall. Rooting hormone can be used to enhance the success rate of cutting propagation.
  • Division: Division of established plants can also be employed to create new individuals, especially for larger clump-forming varieties.
  • Containerized Propagation: Propagate ‘Danica’ in containers to provide a controlled environment for root establishment before transplanting to the desired location in the garden.
  • Patience: Propagation may require some patience, but with proper care and attention, newly propagated plants will establish and grow into healthy specimens.

Container Popularity

‘American arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis ‘Danica’)’ is favored for container gardening due to its compact size and ornamental value. Here are some key reasons why it is popular for container cultivation:

  • Space Efficiency: The dwarf and globe-shaped form of ‘Danica’ makes it suitable for small spaces such as patios, balconies, and urban gardens.
  • Ornamental Appeal: Its vibrant green foliage and neat growth habit make it an attractive addition to container plantings, adding a touch of elegance and texture.
  • Versatility: It can be grown in various container sizes, allowing flexibility in design and placement within outdoor and indoor settings.
  • Low Maintenance: ‘Danica’ requires minimal pruning and maintenance when grown in containers, making it suitable for busy gardeners or novice plant enthusiasts.

Common Diseases

Disease Diagnosis

American arborvitae is relatively resistant to most diseases, but it can be susceptible to certain fungal infections under unfavorable conditions. Here are some common diseases that affect ‘Danica’ and their symptoms:

  • Cedar Rust: This fungal disease manifests as orange, gelatinous spore masses on the foliage and causes yellowing and premature defoliation.
  • Blight: Blight diseases can cause sudden browning and dieback of branch tips, often accompanied by a dark, necrotic margin on the affected foliage.
  • Root Rot: Excessive soil moisture and poor drainage can lead to root rot, characterized by wilting, yellowing, and eventually, the death of the plant.

Prevention and Management

Preventive measures and early intervention are crucial for managing diseases in American arborvitae. Here are some essential points to consider regarding disease prevention and management:

  • Cultural Practices: Provide proper spacing between plants, promote good air circulation, and avoid overhead watering to reduce humidity and minimize the risk of fungal diseases.
  • Sanitation: Remove and dispose of any infected plant material, including fallen leaves and debris, to prevent the spread of diseases.
  • Fungicidal Treatments: In severe cases or recurrent infections, apply appropriate fungicides as directed to manage and suppress fungal diseases effectively.
  • Soil Improvement: Ensure proper soil drainage and avoid overwatering to prevent root rot and other moisture-related issues.

Common Pests

American arborvitae is relatively resistant to most pests, but certain insects can infest the foliage and cause damage. Here are some common pests that affect ‘Danica’ and their symptoms:

  • Spider Mites: These microscopic pests can cause stippling or speckling on the foliage, leading to a decline in the overall health and appearance of the plant.
  • Bagworms: Bagworm larvae construct protective bags from silk and foliage, feeding on the arborvitae needles and twigs, potentially causing extensive defoliation.
  • Aphids: These small, soft-bodied insects may congregate on the new growth of arborvitae, sucking sap and excreting honeydew, which can lead to sooty mold development.

Pest Prevention and Management

Implementing integrated pest management strategies can effectively prevent and manage pest infestations in American arborvitae. Here are some essential points to consider regarding pest prevention and management:

  • Regular Inspection: Monitor the plant regularly for signs of pest infestations, including distorted foliage, webbing, or the presence of insects.
  • Natural Predators: Encourage natural predators such as ladybugs and lacewings, which feed on aphids and mites, to help control pest populations.
  • Horticultural Oils and Insecticidal Soaps: Use horticultural oils and insecticidal soaps to suffocate and deter pests while minimizing harm to beneficial insects.
  • Pruning Infested Branches: When feasible, prune and discard heavily infested branches to reduce pest pressure and prevent the spread to healthy parts of the plant.

Botanist’s Tips

As a botanist specializing in ornamental plants, I have gathered some valuable insights and tips for successfully growing and caring for American arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis ‘Danica’):

  1. Site Selection: Choose a well-drained location with adequate sunlight for optimal growth and vigor.
  2. Soil Preparation: Amend the planting area with organic matter to improve soil structure and fertility, creating an ideal environment for root development.
  3. Watering Practices: Water the plant deeply but infrequently to encourage deep root growth and drought tolerance. Avoid frequent shallow watering, which can lead to surface root development.
  4. Seasonal Maintenance: Schedule pruning and fertilization in spring to support healthy growth throughout the growing season and prepare the plant for winter.
  5. Monitor for Pests and Diseases: Regularly inspect the plant for signs of pests and diseases, intervening promptly to prevent widespread damage.
  6. Winter Protection: In regions experiencing harsh winters, protect young American arborvitae plants from desiccation and extreme cold by applying a layer of mulch around the base and shielding them from drying winds.

Fun Facts

To further enrich your knowledge and appreciation of American arborvitae, here are some intriguing and delightful fun facts about this remarkable plant:

  1. Historical Significance: Native American tribes used parts of the arborvitae tree for medicinal, practical, and spiritual purposes, emphasizing its cultural significance.
  2. Wildlife Value: The dense foliage of American arborvitae provides cover and nesting sites for various bird species, contributing to the ecological balance of the surrounding environment.
  3. Longevity: In optimal growing conditions and with proper care, American arborvitae can live for several decades, showcasing its resilience and enduring beauty.
  4. Botanical Classification: ‘Danica’ belongs to the plant genus Thuja, derived from the Greek word thuo, meaning to sacrifice, alluding to the historical use of the aromatic wood in religious ceremonies.

Links to External Resources

For further exploration and in-depth research on American arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis ‘Danica’) and related topics, the following external resources and references are recommended:

  1. American Arborvitae – Missouri Botanical Garden
  2. Growing Arborvitae – The Spruce
  3. Thuja occidentalis ‘Danica’ – Royal Horticultural Society

In conclusion, American arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis ‘Danica’) is a captivating and versatile plant with a myriad of uses in landscaping, container gardening, and as a privacy screen. By understanding its cultural requirements, proper care practices, and potential issues, gardeners and plant enthusiasts can cultivate and enjoy the beauty and benefits of this exceptional evergreen shrub.

By applying the insights and recommendations shared in this guide, you can foster the healthy growth and longevity of ‘Danica’ in your garden or landscape, enriching outdoor spaces with its elegant foliage and enduring charm. Whether you are a seasoned horticulturist or a novice gardener, incorporating American arborvitae into your green spaces is a rewarding endeavor that resonates with its historical, ecological, and aesthetic significance.

Picture of Peter Taylors

Peter Taylors

Expert botanist who loves plants. His expertise spans taxonomy, plant ecology, and ethnobotany. An advocate for plant conservation, he mentors and educates future botanists, leaving a lasting impact on the field.