Arborvitae Propagation and Care

Arborvitae (Thuja) is probably one of the most popular landscape plants being used and sold today. For an evergreen, they are fast growing and quite easy to care for. Most varieties of Arborvitae grow almost perfectly with very little pruning required. However, some of the low growing varieties do need regular pruning.

Rhinegold Arborvitae
Rhinegold Arborvitae

The photo above is Rhinegold Arborvitae, a low growing evergreen that ranges in color from yellow to burnt orange. This plant is a fast grower, and very easy to propagate. It does require pruning at least once a year in order to maintain a nice shape, and the pruning is best done in the late fall or early winter. If pruned during the summer the tips turn an ugly brown and stay that way until the new growth appears the following spring.

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Rhinegold Arborvitae makes a nice landscape plant if you need something colorful, evergreen, and fast growing. In the photo below I used them on the end of my house, planting them in an arc for effect.

Arborvitae
Arborvitae

Arborvitae propagation is quite easy, and a variety of methods can be used. Most varieties are very easy to root in mid to late summer under intermittent mist, and most varieties will also root if you just stick the cuttings in a bed of sand in the late fall or early winter. See the following articles on this site for more information on propagation.

Softwood Cuttings of Evergreens

Hardwood Cuttings of Evergreens

Propagation via Intermittent Mist

Arborvitae propagation is different and easier than a lot of other plants, because if you're interested in rooting a lot of arborvitae cuttings, you can literally take a full grown arborvitae and tear it apart to make as many cuttings as you can get from it.

That's exactly what I do.

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Along the edge of my little backyard nursery I plant about five Emerald Green Arborviate, five Rhinegold Arborviate, and five Golden Globe Arborvitae. Then in the mid to late summer, or even as late as fall or winter, I select one of each of these plants and I tear it to shreds, getting hundreds and hundreds of cuttings from each plant.

Then I dig up what's left, which is only a stump, and throw it away. Then I plant a new small plant in that spot for future propagation.

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making and selling rooted cuttings.

Emerald Green Arborvitae
Emerald Green Arborvitae

The above photo is Emerald Green Arborviate, also known as "Smaragd". This is one of my favorite arborvitae's. It grows almost perfectly pyramidal with almost no pruning at all. It has a very bright green color and appears to have a tinge of gold to it if the sun hits it just right.

With a maximum height of 10' to 15', it actually stays smaller than some of the older arborvitae varieties that have a tendency to lean way over when covered with snow.

However, if you need a really tight evergreen hedge you'd be better off with Techney Arborvitae, which is very dark green in color, but grows much wider and fuller than Emerald, Dark Green, or American Arborvitae.

Techney Arborvitae is more difficult to propagate, and usually has to be done during the winter over bottom heat.

Looking for another fast growing evergreen with lots of color? How about Arborvitae Golden Globe, shown below?

Golden Globe Arborvitae
Golden Globe Arborvitae

Colorful, fast growing, and a really good seller, Golden Globe Arborvitae is also very easy to propagate. Most retail plant buyers fall in love with Golden Globe at first site.

However, even though I grow and sell it, I'm not one of it's biggest fans. Like most low growing arborvitaes, Golden Globe tends to get ugly if left unpruned, and because it is a fast grower, at least for an evergreen, keeping it looking good after a number of years can be difficult.

When designing a landscape, I often use Taxus Capitata when I need a pyramidal evergreen, or Gold Thread Cypress when I need a low growing evergreen with color. But I also use arborvitaes when I need alternate selections or variety. Dollar for dollar, they are worth considering for your landscape.

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