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Arborvitae - Solution Guide

  • Evergreen, ornamental shrubs to small trees suitable for USDA zones 3-8.
  • Cold, hardy, disease resistant, often columnar or naturally pyramidal-shaped plants.
  • Plant in full sun to partial shade in average but well-draining soils.
  • Shipped as bareroot or potted plants. Differs by variety.
  • Protect from deer, avoid winter exposure, wind, and de-icing salts.

Planting Instructions

Follow the same planting instructions for other bareroot evergreens.

  • Arborvitae typically take 2-3 weeks to start growing new roots. Keep the soil moist by watering every other day.
  • NOTE: MYKE® mycorrhizae inoculant is beneficial, but no fertilizer should be added at planting time.
  • Unpack and gve tags or an">y binding twine.
  • Soak bare roots in clean water for 8 to 24 hours before planting to rehydrate.
  • NOTE: DO NOT allow roots to dry out or expose the roots to sunlight. Keep roots covered.
  • Dig a large hole (two times larger than the rootball), 2-3 feet wide and 18-24" deep.
  • Amend existing soil with ample amounts of organic matter, such as peat, compost, or aged manure.
  • Remove all weeds or grass within a 3-foot circle of the planting hole.
  • Plant with the top of the rootball even with or just below the natural soil grade. (No more than 1-2 inches deep.)
  • Partially fill the hole, firm soil mix around the roots, and apply water.
  • After water drains, finish backfilling around roots with soil blend and firm gently.
  • Create a 3-foot wide, 4-6-inch-tall soil berm around the tree, then water thoroughly and slowly, watching for escaping air bubbles.
  • Lastly, apply 2-3 inches of mulch or fresh compost. Keep it 2 inches back from the main trunk or base of the tree.
IMPORTANT: Monitor the soil moisture closely. Arborvitae can become easily stressed from not enough water or too much water. Good drainage is crucial to their establishment and long-term health. Arborvitaes are low maintenance, not No maintenance. Attention during establishment is critical.


  • Maintain consistent watering.
  • Follow 1 inch of water per week per tree rule. This equates to about 2.5 to 3 gallons every 2-3 days.
  • Water more if the weather is hot & dry during their first summer.
  • Avoid poor drainage or heavy soils.


  • For newly planted Arborvitae, starting 4-6 weeks after planting, root-boosting fertilizer like Root & Grow® by Bonide is applied once every two weeks to aid their establishment.
  • Note: No fertilizer applications past mid-July.
  • Once established, apply an appropriate amount of 10-10-10 or 3-5-3 organic fertilizer in early spring every year.


Arborvitae can be susceptible to some diseases, and some insect damage is possible over time but is rarely fatal. Initially, moisture issues due to too little to too much water or poor drainage were the most common causes of fatalities in new Arborvitae plantings, followed closely by winter exposure and deer damage. All these issues are totally preventable when care and attention are given to prep, planting, and watering.

Environmental Issues

  • Symptoms of a lack of water include browning and wilting leaves, usually from the top down, but not always.
  • Over-watering symptoms include yellow to browning foliage. Usually from the bottom up, but not always. Poor drainage or soil staying too wet yields similar results.
  • Avoid competition from weeds, grasses, and other encroaching plants by pulling them by hand or using adequate mulch.
  • Winter wind burns and damages foliage.
  • Snow and ice can also burn or damage exposed foliage.
  • Seeping de-icing salts into the root zone can cause foliage burn and damage.
  • Over-fertilization can cause foliage burn and damage.
  • Predation from deer is very common.

Disease Issues

  • Twig blight is a cosmetic disease that primarily infects branch tips or end foliage and is not fatal to otherwise healthy Arborvitaes.
  • Botrytis blight (Gray mold) is a common garden fungal disease with dozens of host plants. It causes twig blight symptoms in the foliage and stems of Arborvitae spp.

Insect Pests

  • Spider mites: Symptoms include reddish-brown coloration on leaves and fine but dense webbing.
  • Bagworm: Only found on mature Arborvitaes. Worms hatch from eggs from old bags that are overwintered.
  • Leaf miner: Symptomatic browning of the foliage appears in late January or February, often misdiagnosed as winter damage.
  • Scale: These small brown, half-circular shaped scales can be found on stems of Arborvitae or Yew.
  • Spittlebug: Small larvae produce wet, frothy bubble coating as they suck juices from the leaves and stems.

Popular Named Varieties

  • Full Speed A Hedge® (Potted) - Thuja occidentalis 'American Pillar'.
  • North Pole® (Potted) - Thuja occidentalis 'Art Boe'.
  • Techny (Bare root) - Thuja occidentalis 'Techny'.
  • Pyramidal (Bare root) - Thuja occidentalis 'Pyramidalis'.
  • Emerald (Potted) - Thuja occidentalis 'Smaragd'.
  • Pancake™ (Potted) - Thuja occidentalis 'Concesarini'.
  • Tater Tot® (Potted) - Thuja occidentalis 'SMNTOBAB'.

NOTE: Jung Garden Center varieties, availability, and container sizes will vary depending on catalog offerings. Call each GC for details.