Western Red Cedar (Thuja Plicata ‘Whipcord’)

Plant: Table of Contents

Western Red Cedar (Thuja plicata ‘Whipcord’) Plant Care Guide

Welcome to our comprehensive guide for plant enthusiasts and gardeners interested in learning about the Western red cedar plant, also known as Thuja plicata ‘Whipcord’. In this article, we will delve into various aspects of caring for this unique and beautiful evergreen, including its growth habits, characteristics, maintenance requirements, diseases and pests, propagation, landscaping ideas, and much more.

What is the Western Red Cedar (Thuja plicata ‘Whipcord’)?

The Western red cedar, scientifically known as Thuja plicata, is a species of coniferous tree native to the northwestern region of North America. ‘Whipcord’ is a particular cultivar of the species that is prized for its distinctive foliage and compact, cord-like growth habit. The foliage of ‘Whipcord’ forms a unique, drooping appearance, making it an attractive addition to gardens and landscapes.

The Western red cedar belongs to the Cupressaceae family and is characterized by its evergreen nature, with dense, scale-like leaves and small, woody cones. This plant is valued for its ornamental appeal and its ability to thrive in a variety of growing conditions. Understanding its specific cultural requirements and maintenance needs is essential for successfully cultivating and appreciating the beauty of this remarkable species.

Key Takeaways – Western Red Cedar (Thuja plicata ‘Whipcord’)

Before diving into the specifics of caring for the Western red cedar, let’s take a quick look at the key takeaways related to this plant:

  • Growth Habits: ‘Whipcord’ features a unique cord-like growth habit with drooping foliage, adding an elegant and distinct appearance to gardens and landscapes.
  • Characteristics: The plant is recognizable for its evergreen foliage, small woody cones, and overall graceful silhouette.
  • Propagation: Propagating Western red cedar can be achieved through various methods such as cuttings and seed sowing, providing opportunities for expanding your garden or landscape with new plants.
  • Maintenance: Regular pruning and proper cultural practices are essential for maintaining the health and aesthetic appeal of the ‘Whipcord’ variety.
  • Landscaping: The Western red cedar can be utilized in landscaping designs to create visual interest, privacy screens, and wildlife habitats.

With these key points in mind, let’s explore the specifics of caring for the Western red cedar plant, focusing on its culture, uses, water requirements, sunlight preferences, fertilizer needs, soil considerations, pruning techniques, propagation methods, common diseases, pest control, and various tips for successful cultivation.


Understanding the cultural requirements of the Western red cedar is crucial for ensuring its optimal growth and health. This includes considerations such as its preferred growing conditions, uses in landscaping, and its overall role in garden aesthetics.


The Western red cedar, particularly the ‘Whipcord’ variety, serves several purposes in garden and landscape settings, thanks to its unique growth habit and ornamental appeal. Some common uses include:

  • Accent Plant: ‘Whipcord’ can be used as an accent plant to add texture and visual interest to garden beds and containers.
  • Privacy Screen: Its dense foliage and graceful form make it suitable for creating privacy screens or hedges within the landscape.
  • Wildlife Habitat: The plant’s dense foliage provides cover and nesting sites for birds, contributing to the creation of wildlife-friendly environments.


Proper watering is critical for the health and vigor of the Western red cedar. Understanding its water needs and implementing appropriate irrigation practices are essential for preventing stress and maintaining the plant’s vitality.

  • Watering Guidelines: ‘Whipcord’ requires regular watering, especially during the establishment phase. Adequate moisture is essential, particularly during dry periods, to support its growth and overall well-being.
  • Drainage Requirements: Ensuring well-draining soil and proper water drainage is important to prevent waterlogging, which can lead to root rot and other issues.


Sunlight is a fundamental factor influencing the growth and development of the Western red cedar. Understanding its sunlight preferences and providing the appropriate exposure are essential for promoting healthy and vigorous growth.

  • Sun Exposure: ‘Whipcord’ thrives in full sun to partial shade conditions. Providing the plant with adequate sunlight is crucial for ensuring its optimal growth and maintaining its compact, dense foliage.


Supplemental fertilization can benefit the growth and overall health of the Western red cedar, particularly when specific nutrient deficiencies are identified or when the plant is grown under challenging conditions.

  • Fertilizing Tips: Applying a balanced, slow-release fertilizer in spring can support the plant’s growth and vigor. However, it is essential to avoid excessive fertilization, which can lead to adverse effects on the plant’s health.


The type and quality of soil play a significant role in the successful cultivation of the Western red cedar. Understanding its soil preferences and ensuring proper soil conditions are crucial for promoting healthy growth.

  • Soil Requirements: ‘Whipcord’ thrives in well-draining, moist soil with a slightly acidic to neutral pH. Amending the soil with organic matter can improve its structure and fertility, creating an ideal growing environment for the plant.


Pruning is an essential aspect of maintaining the shape, size, and overall health of the Western red cedar. Proper pruning techniques and timing are crucial for achieving the desired aesthetic and preventing potential issues associated with overgrowth or disease susceptibility.

  • Pruning Techniques: Regular maintenance pruning can help shape the plant and remove dead or damaged foliage. Additionally, selective thinning can promote airflow and reduce the risk of disease in dense foliage.


Propagating the Western red cedar offers opportunities to expand your plant collection or populate your landscape with this unique and elegant species. Understanding the propagation methods and best practices is essential for successful plant propagation.

  • Propagation Methods: ‘Whipcord’ can be propagated from semi-hardwood cuttings or through seed sowing. Both methods require attention to timing, environmental conditions, and proper care to achieve successful propagation.

Container Popularity

The Western red cedar, including the ‘Whipcord’ variety, is popular for container gardening due to its compact size and unique appearance. Growing this plant in containers offers flexibility and versatility in various gardening and landscaping applications.

  • Container Gardening: ‘Whipcord’ is well-suited for growing in containers, making it an ideal choice for patios, decks, and small-space gardens. Selecting a well-draining, appropriately sized container is essential for successful container cultivation.

Common Diseases

The Western red cedar, like many plants, is susceptible to certain diseases that can impact its health and appearance. Recognizing common diseases and implementing preventive measures is crucial for maintaining the plant’s vigor.

  • Disease Prevention: Maintaining proper cultural practices, including adequate spacing, good air circulation, and regular inspection for signs of disease, can help prevent common issues such as blight, canker, and root rot.

Disease Diagnosis

Diagnosing plant diseases is a critical skill for gardeners and plant enthusiasts. Understanding the symptoms and signs of common diseases of the Western red cedar is essential for implementing appropriate management strategies.

  • Symptoms: Common symptoms of diseases in the Western red cedar may include leaf discoloration, wilting, dieback, or the presence of unusual growths or cankers.
  • Diagnosis: Proper diagnosis of plant diseases may require consulting with a professional or utilizing diagnostic resources to accurately identify the specific issue affecting the plant.

Common Pests

In addition to diseases, the Western red cedar is susceptible to pest infestations that can negatively impact its health and appearance. Identifying common pests and implementing effective pest control measures is essential for preserving the plant’s vitality.

  • Pest Control: Effective pest control for ‘Whipcord’ involves monitoring for common pests such as aphids, spider mites, and scale insects. Implementing integrated pest management practices can help manage pest populations without excessive reliance on chemical treatments.

Botanist’s Tips

Gardening enthusiasts and botany aficionados can benefit from expert tips and insights related to the care and cultivation of the Western red cedar. These tips can help optimize the plant’s growth and ensure its long-term health in various gardening and landscaping settings.

  • Expert Advice: Consulting with experienced botanists or horticulturists can provide valuable tips and recommendations for successful Western red cedar cultivation. Local botanical gardens, nurseries, and university extension services are excellent resources for obtaining expert advice.

Fun Facts

Learning interesting and unique facts about the Western red cedar can further deepen your appreciation for this remarkable plant species.

  • Cultural Significance: The Western red cedar holds cultural and historical significance for indigenous communities in the Pacific Northwest, where it has been traditionally utilized for various purposes, including building materials and ceremonial objects.
  • Wildlife Support: The plant’s dense foliage provides valuable habitat and food sources for birds and other wildlife, contributing to biodiversity and ecological balance in natural and cultivated landscapes.

Links to External Resources

To deepen your understanding of the Western red cedar and ‘Whipcord’ variety, explore the following external resources for additional insights, tips, and expert guidance regarding the care and cultivation of these unique plants:

  • The American Conifer Society: The American Conifer Society provides detailed information on conifer species, including the Western red cedar, offering valuable resources and publications for conifer enthusiasts.
  • University Extension Services: Utilize the resources provided by university extension services for region-specific guidance on growing and caring for the Western red cedar, tailored to your local climate and growing conditions.

By delving into these external resources, you can access additional information on topics such as plant care, cultivar selection, landscaping applications, and pest and disease management specific to the Western red cedar.


In this comprehensive guide, we have explored various aspects of caring for the Western red cedar, focusing on the unique ‘Whipcord’ variety. Understanding the cultural requirements, uses, water, sunlight, fertilizer, soil, pruning, propagation, common diseases, pest control, and expert tips for this distinct plant species is essential for its successful cultivation and appreciation in garden and landscape settings.

By implementing the insights and recommendations provided in this guide, you can effectively care for and showcase the beauty of the Western red cedar, enhancing the aesthetic appeal and ecological value of your outdoor spaces. Whether you aim to create privacy screens, wildlife habitats, or simply admire the ornamental characteristics of the ‘Whipcord’ variety, the knowledge gained from this guide will support your endeavors in nurturing and enjoying this remarkable plant species.

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.