Arborvitae (Thuja ‘Green Giant’)

Plant: Table of Contents

Arborvitae (Thuja ‘Green Giant’): A Comprehensive Guide

In the world of landscaping and gardening, the arborvitae plant, specifically the Thuja ‘Green Giant’, holds a special place. This evergreen shrub is prized for its lush foliage, tall stature, and versatility in various growing conditions. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the details of arborvitae (Thuja ‘Green Giant’), covering aspects such as its culture, uses, care requirements, common diseases, pests, propagation, and valuable botanist’s tips.

What is Arborvitae (Thuja ‘Green Giant’)?

The Thuja ‘Green Giant’ is a cultivar of the Thuja species known as Thuja plicata. It is a coniferous evergreen tree that belongs to the cypress family, Cupressaceae. This hybrid plant is a result of a cross between the Western Red Cedar (Thuja plicata) and Japanese Arborvitae (Thuja standishii). The ‘Green Giant’ cultivar is particularly revered for its rapid growth, robust nature, and elegant pyramidal shape, making it an excellent choice for privacy screens, windbreaks, and ornamental landscaping.

Key Takeaways – Arborvitae (Thuja ‘Green Giant’)

  • Scientific Name: Thuja plicata ‘Green Giant’
  • Growth Rate: Rapid, reaching heights of around 25-30 feet in 10-15 years
  • Foliage: Scale-like, rich green color
  • Uses: Privacy screens, windbreaks, ornamental landscaping
  • Hardiness Zones: 5 to 9
  • Soil Preference: Well-drained, adaptable to various soil types
  • Sunlight: Full sun to partial shade
  • Watering: Regular watering, especially during the establishment phase
  • Maintenance: Minimal pruning required, if any
  • Pests and Diseases: Relatively resistant to common pests and diseases
  • Propagation: Easily propagated through cuttings

Culture of Arborvitae (Thuja ‘Green Giant’)

The cultural requirements of the Thuja ‘Green Giant’ are essential for understanding how to best care for and nurture this impressive plant. Let’s delve into the various aspects of its culture, including water, sunlight, fertilizer, soil, and pruning.


Arborvitae, including the ‘Green Giant’ cultivar, typically require adequate moisture, especially during the early stages of growth when the root system is being established. Once established, they are generally drought-tolerant, but regular watering, particularly during dry periods, is beneficial for optimal growth and health.


In terms of sunlight, arborvitae, including the ‘Green Giant’, thrive in full sun to partial shade. While they can tolerate some shade, they exhibit the best growth and density when provided with ample sunlight. When planting these trees, it is crucial to consider a location that provides the appropriate sunlight exposure.


Arborvitae generally do not have extensive fertilizer requirements. However, a balanced, slow-release fertilizer can be applied in the spring to provide essential nutrients for healthy growth. It is important to follow the recommended application rates to prevent over-fertilization, which can be detrimental to the plant.


One of the remarkable qualities of the Thuja ‘Green Giant’ is its adaptability to various soil types. It thrives in well-drained soils, but it can tolerate a range of soil conditions, including clay and sandy soils. Ensuring proper drainage is crucial to prevent waterlogging, which can lead to root rot and other issues.


The ‘Green Giant’ arborvitae typically requires minimal pruning, if any. It naturally maintains its attractive pyramidal shape, and excessive pruning is generally not necessary. However, light pruning to shape the tree or remove any dead or damaged branches can be performed as needed.

Uses of Arborvitae (Thuja ‘Green Giant’)

The Thuja ‘Green Giant’ serves a variety of practical and aesthetic purposes in landscaping and gardening. Its prominent uses range from creating privacy screens and windbreaks to being utilized as an eye-catching ornamental centerpiece.

Privacy Screens

One of the most popular uses of the ‘Green Giant’ is as a privacy screen or hedge. Due to its rapid growth, dense foliage, and tall stature, it provides an effective and visually appealing barrier, shielding properties from prying eyes and noise.


The robust nature of the Thuja ‘Green Giant’ makes it well-suited for use as a windbreak. Planted in rows, it effectively mitigates wind speeds and provides protection for other plants, structures, or outdoor living areas.

Ornamental Landscaping

Beyond its practical uses, the ‘Green Giant’ arborvitae is often used as a striking focal point in landscaping. Its vibrant green foliage, symmetrical form, and impressive height make it an ideal choice for creating visual interest and adding a touch of elegance to gardens and landscapes.

Propagation of Arborvitae (Thuja ‘Green Giant’)

The propagation of the Thuja ‘Green Giant’ can be achieved through various methods, including cuttings and layering.


Propagation through cuttings is a popular method for reproducing the ‘Green Giant’ arborvitae. This process involves taking semi-hardwood cuttings from the parent plant and rooting them under controlled conditions. It is an effective way to produce genetically identical offspring with the same desirable traits as the parent plant.


Layering is another propagation technique that can be employed to propagate the ‘Green Giant’ arborvitae. This method involves encouraging the formation of roots on a stem while it is still attached to the parent plant, ultimately leading to the development of a new independent plant.

Common Diseases of Arborvitae (Thuja ‘Green Giant’)

While the Thuja ‘Green Giant’ is generally considered resistant to many common diseases, there are a few potential issues to be mindful of, including:

Canker Diseases

Canker diseases, caused by various fungi, can affect arborvitae. Symptoms include sunken areas on branches, dieback, and a resinous discharge. Proper sanitation and maintenance practices can help prevent and manage canker diseases.

Needle Blight

Needle blight diseases, such as Kabatina blight, can impact the foliage of arborvitae, leading to discoloration, browning, and shedding of needles. Timely sanitation, proper spacing, and appropriate watering can aid in preventing the spread of needle blight.

Root Rot

Root rot, often caused by waterlogged soil and poorly drained conditions, can pose a risk to arborvitae health. Ensuring proper drainage and avoiding overwatering are crucial in preventing the onset of root rot.

Common Pests Affecting Arborvitae (Thuja ‘Green Giant’)

Arborvitae, including the ‘Green Giant’ cultivar, can face potential pest pressures, although they are generally resistant to many common pests. Nonetheless, it is essential to be aware of potential invaders and take appropriate measures to mitigate their impact.

Spider Mites

Spider mites are among the common pests that can affect arborvitae. These tiny pests can cause stippling, discoloration, and webbing on the foliage. Regular monitoring and appropriate pest management strategies can help control spider mite infestations.


Bagworms are another potential pest that can infest arborvitae, leading to defoliation and aesthetic damage. Physical removal of bagworm cocoons and the application of insecticidal treatments can help manage and prevent further infestations.

Scale Insects

Scale insects, such as juniper scale, can target arborvitae, causing yellowing, stunted growth, and dieback. Proper cultural practices and the introduction of beneficial predators can aid in controlling scale insect populations.

Botanist’s Tips for Caring for Arborvitae (Thuja ‘Green Giant’)

To ensure the longevity and vitality of the Thuja ‘Green Giant’, it is beneficial to follow specific botanist-recommended care practices, including:

  • Regular Monitoring: Keep a close eye on the plant for any signs of distress, disease, or pest activity.
  • Proper Watering: Maintain consistent moisture levels, especially during establishment, while avoiding waterlogging.
  • Appropriate Planting Depth: Ensure the root ball is at the proper level when planting to prevent issues with root suffocation.
  • Mulching: Apply a layer of organic mulch around the base of the plant to retain moisture and regulate soil temperature.
  • Adequate Air Circulation: Avoid overcrowding and ensure proper spacing between plants to promote air circulation and reduce disease risks.

Fun Facts about Arborvitae (Thuja ‘Green Giant’)

  1. The name “arborvitae” is derived from the Latin term for “tree of life,” as early explorers consumed the tree’s foliage to prevent scurvy.
  2. The ‘Green Giant’ is highly favored for its use in creating Christmas trees, owing to its attractive form and resilient nature.
  3. Arborvitae wood has been historically utilized in crafting various objects, including canoes and totem poles by indigenous communities.

Links to External Resources

To further expand your knowledge and understanding of arborvitae (Thuja ‘Green Giant’), consider exploring the following resources:

In conclusion, the Thuja ‘Green Giant’ stands as a remarkable specimen in the realm of landscaping and horticulture. With its rapid growth, adaptability, and numerous uses, it continues to captivate the interests of gardeners, landscapers, and nature enthusiasts alike. By adhering to proper cultural practices, addressing potential issues, and harnessing botanist-recommended care strategies, one can truly appreciate the beauty and resilience of this iconic plant. Whether creating a vibrant privacy screen, enhancing the landscape, or simply reveling in its natural splendor, the arborvitae (Thuja ‘Green Giant’) remains a timeless favorite in the world of greenery.

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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.