When shopping for an evergreen it’s always a good idea to research all of the different varieties to discover what will grow best in your area based upon its growing zone, drought tolerance, disease resistance, care requirements, unique look and more.

While it may not seem like there could be much of a difference between different varieties of the same plant, like the Thuja Green Giant and Emerald Green Thuja because they are both thujas, they actually have striking differences that will greatly change the look of your landscape.

The Differences:


Thuja Green Giants
Thuja Green Giants

Thuja Green Giants get their iconic name by growing up to massive heights between 20 to 40 feet tall. They also spread out and grow to be about 12 to 20 feet wide. The Green Giant is better suited for areas with a lot of space to fill in. If you have more ground to cover, then consider this large thuja.

Emerald Green Thujas are perfect for smaller landscapes because they only grow to heights between 8 and 12 feet. They have a much smaller spread, growing about 3 to 4 feet wide. Emeralds will fit better in tight spaces around the driveway or property borders. Its smaller size also allows it to grow in containers.

Growing Zones:

iStock_000002742400_LargeIf you are looking for an evergreen that can stand up to the cold and harsh winter weather, check out the Emerald Green Thuja. It is recommended for growing zones 3 through 8 and can survive freezing temperatures that dip down to -40 degrees. Emeralds are the thuja variety that old man winter can’t stop.

Thuja Green Giants can handle snow and ice, but not at the same level as Emerald Greens. Green Giants are recommended for growing zones 5 through 9, and can withstand freezing temperatures down to -20 degrees, so they still grow extremely well in northern areas. However, Thuja Green Giants are an excellent option for hot areas. They will happily flourish in dry, southern areas where other evergreens can’t take the heat.


Emerald Green Thujas
Emerald Green Thujas

Thuja Green Giants are very attractive with dense, dark green foliage. They provide a dark background for flowering trees and shrubs to pop against. Green Giants have large, wide bases and grow narrower towards the top, giving them a pyramidal shape that causes them to look like giant Christmas Trees.

Emerald Green Thujas have a brighter green glow, which causes them to shine with a bright green hue in the sunlight. They will attract attention to your landscape and can be used as accents in the garden to draw the eye to certain spots. They have a more columnar shape, with the same width almost from the ground up before narrowing towards the top.

The Similarities:

Thuja Green Giants
Thuja Green Giants


Emerald Green Thujas
Emerald Green Thujas

Both Thuja Green Giants and Emerald Thujas have an extremely high resistance to pests and diseases. While other evergreens often fall due to bagworms or spider mites, along with molds and fungi thujas fight them!

They also stand up to extreme weather conditions. Their strong, upright branches won’t snap under heavy layers of snow and ice. With a high level of drought tolerance, they don’t fail during heat waves or suffer dryness brought on by cold winter winds.

Thujas aren’t picky about their soil. They will thrive in a variety of poor soils ranging from ones that are acidic, sandy, and even poor draining soils that are heavy in clay.


By planting Thuja Green Giants about five feet apart, and Emerald Thujas about two feet apart their foliage will fill in to create a solid barrier. Your neighbors won’t be able to peer into your yard    or windows with a living privacy wall to stop them.

Growth Rate and Low Maintenance

Thuja Green Giants
Thuja Green Giants

There isn’t any waiting around or babying when it comes to Thujas. Green Giants and Emeralds have growth rates of up to five feet per year so they will quickly grow into large, mature trees.

Forget the watering and feeding schedules, thujas don’t need them. With an adequate amount of water thujas will grow big and strong on their own. They don’t have a need for fertilizers or pest sprays.

Don’t worry about thujas growing too large, while it’s true that Green Giants can reach monstrous heights, they are also easy to shape and maintain. Emeralds and Green Giants can be easily shaped into hedges and kept at certain shapes and sizes.

The Perfect Tree Exists For The Job

When planning to make an addition to your landscape remember to plan ahead and research your options. Certain plants are perfectly suited for your area, while others or not. Even plants of the same species with different varieties can have a lot of differences.

Emerald Green Thujas
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12 years ago I was sitting around, talking with two of my favorite, fellow Plant Geeks. We were trying to figure out why so many, superior plant varieties were not available to the public and were seldom offered in Garden Centers. Instead, the stores sold less attractive, older varieties, proven to be disease and insect prone. They also sold the sprays and chemicals that their customers would eventually need. The Ah Ha moment hit us and a company was formed. We decided that we would only offer the highest quality plants that must be Easy to Grow.
  • Phil Schintler

    Pam, I just recently purchased 15 thuja giants. They arrived in Iowa way too soon. We just had 80 degree weather two days ago and we will have a hard frost tonight. We will be below 32 degrees at night for the next week potentially. Our frost window ends usually in May. The company told me to keep them inside and watered. However, they are starting to turn brown. Is it okay to plant them next week and then just cover them during the night? Otherwise, they will be inside for over a month before I plant them. Thank-you! Phil

    • AllisonTrees

      As long as your ground isn’t frozen you can go ahead and plant your Thujas. They can withstand temperatures down to -10 degrees, so a dip around 32 degrees is fine. If you go ahead and plant them then insulate the roots with a warm material like pine straw or mulch.

      Covering them at night and removing the cover in the morning would help them.

      They could be turning brown due to receiving too much water, or not enough sunlight. Are they near a large sunny window?

      • Phil Schintler

        They are at a sunny east window in the basement. If I can get away with planting them outside to get full sun during the day that would be great.

  • Robert Anderson

    What is the difference between Emerald Green and Emerald green Beauty or are they the same tree?

    • Robert, these are technically the same tree. Some nurseries have been promoting the Emerald Green as an Emerald Beauty.

  • Laura Cummings

    Greetings Pam, we live in Charlotte, NC, in a new development and have planted 26 green giants around the back of our home for natural privacy. In a 1 year, we’ve loss 10, I believe due to the soil, which is all clay.. Most are stagnant, not showing any signs of growth.. However, notice one in the last month, showing a color of lime green.. Is this new growth or is it slowing dying? Thank you!

  • catnts

    Hi Pam
    I purchased 18 Green Giants in the spring (in south east PA)
    I have]been concerned lately because I am seeing a lot of yellowing and browning inside some of the plants. We did have a very hot, dry summer. I sent a picture t a friend who swears they are not Green Giants but Emerald green. I cannot seem to find online a diffinetive way to tell the difference, can you help?! and how concerned should I be about the yellow/brown that is occuring?

    • This is a very common occurrence during the fall. Most evergreens go through a ‘shedding’ process at some point throughout the year. Thujas happen to do it in the fall. As long as it is only on the inside of the tree, you will be fine. If you see any yellowing or browning on the tips of the plant, this would be cause for concern as the tree has not had enough water. Hope this helps!

  • Doc

    what is the difference between “dark American and “emerald Green”.

    My landscaper said he was putting in dark American, but when I was at a local Garden Center, emerald green looks exactly the same

    • The American Arborvitae (dark american) is actually the parent tree of the Emerald Green Arborvitae. They will have a similar shape and size. However, the Emerald Green tends to hold its color better in the winter, whereas the american can fade in color a bit until spring arrives. Overall they are very similar.

      • Doc


  • Cheryl

    Can I purchase Thuja emerald seeds from you shipped to Australia?

  • Danny

    I would like to shield my yard and home from a street and parking lot, but I only have about 5 feet between my fence and my walkway in which to plant a screen. However, I do need the screen to be at least 15-20 feet high because our kitchen/breakfast room/living room has many windows that are about 15-20 feet off the ground which I want to screen. Which of the thujas would you recommend in this situation? Neither? Or with good pruning, either? Thanks!

    • You have a very tough situation. Neither of the trees listed above will work. However, you may want to look at the Italian Cypress, depending on where you live. These get 4-6 ft wide and 30+ feet tall at maturity.

      • Danny

        Thank you for the quick reply! I am in Fairfax, VA (just outside D.C.). It looks like the Italian Cypress should probably work well here, but we can get a strong cold snap every once in a while. However, the tree needs to get to about 15 feet to do what I want it to do in full. With its growth rate, am I about right in saying that it will take 6+ years to get to 15 feet? Anything one can do to encourage healthy rapid growth?

        • Yes, it could easily take 6+ years to reach the desired height. There is always an option of purchasing larger more mature trees, but the expensive exponentially increases. As far as getting maximum growth, it will be the same as other plants… adequate sunlight, water and nutrients.

  • Nikki

    I live in a suburb of Chicago and am trying to find the best evergreen to plant for noise blockage and privacy, seeing that i’m near a busier road. I really like the leyland cypress, but am not sure how it would do in the chicago area. I am between the Leyland cypress and the Thuja Green Giant, but would prefer the cypress. Please give recommendations, looking to buy about 20, five foot trees. Thanks

  • William Pickvet

    My wife and I are looking to plant some privacy trees in our new backyard. The yard used to have trees all over and in between our yard and the neighbors behind us. Probably a good 60-70 yards in between us. The trees that were there were taken down by the county airport because they are redoing their runway. Any trees that go in have to stay at 40 feet or lower. If we were to get 10-15 Emerald Green Thujas would they be below 40 feet or pretty close? I should add that we are in the southern part of Michigan as well.

  • Bobby

    I bought 20 Arborvitae Green Giants from Lowes to replace the Leyland Cypresses that we had for 10 years and have all dried up and died one after the other. I also bought 20 Thuja Arborvitaes from Walmart last year but the tag only says Arborvitae and describes it to grow 3-30 ft. tall and 3-12 ft. wide. Are they the same kind? The ones from Walmart that I planted last year seem to grow slow, so I was thinking of replacing them with the Arborvitae Green Giants from Lowes.

    • usaTheToxicWasteland

      Many inexperienced folk’s make the mistake of adding too much mulch on top of the root ball. Never add more than 1″ or the roots will not get enough oxygen & die. Plant the top of root ball 1 – 2″ above ground, then apply mulch. Research how to supplement or ammend the soil & the correct ratios of mulch. Too much fertilizer will burn & dry the trees up. Not enough water in summer & before winter will cause severe drying as well. When establishing young new trees, water well in the fall before winter hits because once the ground is frozen, then the roots wont be getting much more moisture until a temperature thaw or when springtime comes. I hope this helps you be more successful.

    • usaTheToxicWasteland

      New tree’s that haven’t been established also need a consistent watering schedule so research that pretty well. Id say 50 – 60 gallons per tree for hot dry climates in mid summer at least 3 days a week. Once or twice a week in cooler weather.
      On a drip system that might be 35 – 40 minutes per watering. Once the tree is established it needs much less.. See how long your water or drip system takes to fill a gallon bucket then do the calculations. ; )

  • Renee

    Which is the best Arb variety for deer resistance? And will mature trees that have been munched by the deer up to about 4-5 feet come back and green out if they are fenced in?

    • klaus von Reinloch

      From what I hear the Green Giants are fairly deer resistant, at least compared to Leyland Cyprus. Dont know as compared to other Arborvita. The Green Giants are also more hardy and do better in general than Leyland Cyprus in wind and cold. I hear the Green Giants grow nice and wide and not skinny
      candlestick like the Emreal Green Arbovita. Keep in mind when deer are hungry enough they eat anything. Fencing with an invisible black or dark green, strong plastic or wire fence is our plan for total safety and guarantee the deer don’t wreck our investment.
      Sometimes the shrubs can come back but it depends on the extent of damage.
      Our Yew Taxis shrub and hemlocks have come back but not like they were originally. My sincere advice is to always put a good strong fence around any shrubs you value.

  • klaus von Reinloch

    How much sun do 6-8 foot Green Giants need to be planted in so they grow nice and wide to about 20 feet tall? Is filtered sunlight from or through larger 50 foot tall sparsely branched pines enough sun?

  • Dulcie Cattrell

    My Emerald Greens are about 5 years old and have only grown about 6″ per year. I have to say I’m disappointed. They are not fast growing trees.

  • Tiger Woods

    Anybody know where I can buy larger (8+ ft tall) emerald green arborvitaes? Need 4 more to round out my privacy screening wall and they are very hard to find at this height.