When we say Green Giant we’re not referring to the Jolly Green Giant mascot associated with canned and frozen vegetables. We’re referring to the Thuja Green Giant. You can’t have ‘giant’ in the name of a plant that doesn’t get massive, so this tree lives up to its name. Quickly growing to heights of 20 to 40 feet tall. The rapid growth of Thuja Green Giants makes them the perfect candidates for large privacy trees. However, Thujas are beautiful ornamental trees with a variety of uses.
Thuja Green Giants are commonly known as arborvitaes. The word arborvitae is derived from Latin meaning tree of life. Arborvitae refers to evergreen conifers in Eastern Asia and North America that are linked to the cypress family. They’re called trees of life because their sap can supposedly be used for medicinal purposes. This covers all varieties of Thujas from the Nigra Thuja to the Thuja Green Giant.
The Thuja Green Giant is actually a cross between two different Thuja varieties; namely the Standishii and Plicata varieties. This new thuja variety was introduced to the United States National Arboretum in 1967 by D.T. Poulsen of Kvistgaard Denmark.
The Thuja Standishii is a Thuja variety that’s native to Japan and commonly gets 20 to 35 feet tall. The Thuja Plicata is a Thuja variety native to North America that gets 65 to 70 feet tall. When they come together to form the Thuja Green Giant they make a beautiful fast growing evergreen with a pyramidal shape, strong pest and disease resistance, and high level of cold hardiness.
Facts and Uses
The Thuja Green Giant is recommended for growing zones 5 – 9. It’s cold hardy down to about -20 degrees. This cold hardy tree can put up with the snow. If you line your driveway with them they’ll create a barrier that prevents snow from blowing into your driveway and building up. This might come in handy if you get tired of shoveling away the mess created by winter storms. Also, the Thuja has strong branches that hold up under snow and ice.
The thick foliage on Thuja Green Giants will grow together to create a tough barrier against the wind as well. Cold harsh winds can be damaging to smaller trees and shrubs. Cold blasts also hit homes and cause people’s heating bills to go up. A row of green giants can go a long way in protecting plants and homes from harsh wind chills.
If you need privacy fast then Thuja Green Giants are the way to go. Once you plant them they’ll take off growing between 3 and 5 feet a year, and quickly block out noisy neighbors. In fact one of the most popular uses for the Thuja Green Giant is hedging. People love to plant them in order to create a living fence. Thujas may get quite large, up to 40 feet tall, and 6 to 12 feet wide, but they respond very well to being pruned and can be kept at desired heights.
While Thuja Green Giants do well planted in rows many people plant this arborvitae on its own as an ornamental tree. Its exterior light and feather foliage give it an attractive texture, while its interior dark green foliage with slight yellow hues make its texture pop. This conifer’s pyramidal shape is also very attractive to the eye. However, if these trees are planted in a row they often
provide a beautiful dark back drop to flowering trees and shrubs planted in front of them. The dark foliage on Thujas will make brightly colored blooms pop and helps to make them the focal point of your garden.
Thuja’s have wood that’s soft and light. The wood smells similar to that of Eucalyptus trees but sweeter. The wood of Thuja Green Giants is often used for making chests. Fence posts and rails are commonly made from Thuja poles as well. Another way Thuja wood is commonly used is to make guitar sound boards. Thuja wood is an enjoyable wood to work with because it’s easy to split, light, and resistant to decay. However, my favorite use for Thujas is to plant them so people can watch them take off.
Thuja Green Giants are extremely easy trees to care for. The first step when planting a Thuja is to select a site that receives full to partial sunlight. However, Thujas will grow the quickest if they’re in full sunlight. Six hours of direct sunlight a day will suffice.
Your natural soil will be fine for your Thujas. They can adapt to a huge variety of different soil types ranging from sandy to heavy with clay. Although, they prefer slightly acidic soil they adjust fine to soils that are alkaline and very acidic.
Keep your soil moist, but not soggy or over saturated. Thujas won’t do well if they sit in standing water, so make sure they don’t sit in a low area of your yard where standing water could collect. However, these arborvitaes get thirsty often. Water your Thujas 3 times a month during the summer months, and twice a month during the colder months. If you experience periods of drought or extreme heat water your trees more often.
You can help your soil retain moisture by placing a 3 inch thick layer of mulch around the base of your tree. The mulch will also keep the weeds away and regulate the temperature of your soil. Mulch will keep your soil warm in the winter, and cool in the summer.
It’s easy to tell when Thuja’s aren’t getting enough water, because their needle tips will start to turn brown. Other signs of under watering include yellowing of the foliage, or the foliage will look dull and weak. Signs of over watering include drooping branches as if they’re too heavy for the tree and discoloration of the branches.
Thuja Green Giants often don’t need to be fertilized. Although, you can give your Thujas a boost once or twice a year with a well-balanced slow release fertilizer like formula 10-10-10 or 14-14-14. If you choose to fertilize your Thujas do so in the early spring after the final frost of the season or in the early fall.
No pruning is required for Thuja Green Giants. They’ll quickly reach their massive heights if left untouched. You can promote wider growth that spreads out into a bushier formation vs the tree’s natural pyramidal shape by cutting back about a third of the tree’s central leader. With hand pruners or shears you can cut and shape your Thujas as desired. You can even keep them in a hedge that’s flat across the top, as long as its width is at least 6 inches wide. Just remember that these are fast growing and may need regular pruning and attention to be kept a certain shape.
All About That Thuja
Whether you have one thuja planted alone, or 5 or more planted in a row remember that it’s one popular privacy tree. It quickly soars to massive heights to block neighbors out. Thujas also have beautiful soft foliage that attracts the eye. They’re a low maintenance tough tree with native varieties to in many different countries. We’re sure that you’ve noticed a few around your neighborhood before, but you can bring the beauty into your own back yard.