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.



Background

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.

giant-thujaThe 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.

iStock_000002742400_LargeThe 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.

DSC05155While 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.

Care

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.

thujarowwwwYour 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.

thujahedgeNo 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.

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Pam
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.
  • Connie Dominguez

    I would like top purchaed this three 3 of them

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  • Bruce Brink

    I am considering using Thuja Green Giant along a roadway where salt spray may be a problem during winter months (Grand Rapids, Michigan). How tolerant are these trees? I have tried white cedar (Thuja Occidentalis) and have had problems with browning branches.

    • AllisonTrees

      Thuja Green Giants are actually salt sensitive. What is your growing zone? Salt tolerant evergreens include the Colorado Blue Spruce, Southern Magnolia, Sweet, Bay Magnolia, Junipers, Australian Pine, and the American Holly.

  • Stephen Sharkey

    can these be planted closer together and shaped into a single natural wall? Or will they only grow as single cone shaped evergreens.

    • Absolutley you can plant them closer… We recommend every 3 ft. to create a solid wall.

  • Daryl Schooler

    Will thuja trees grow in the vicinity of walnut trees?

    • Unfortunately, No. Not many trees or shrubs will grow beneath Walnut trees.

    • limapie

      I use an arrangement of pots to plant other botanicals. I make sure the pots are on flat stones that allow for pot water drainage. The stones raising the pots off the ground will keep the tree roots from growing up into the pots, thus plugging the pot holes. Plugged pot holes make ‘wet feet’ for the plants in the pot which, of course, makes the whole pot die. I plant shade tolerant plants in the pots…annuals. I live in a cold climate, so perennials do not survive in pots. The perennial roots get too cold, being up so high out of the actual ground. I’ve tried protecting the pots during winter and thus the perennial roots, but this does not work. I am stuck with planting annuals every year.

  • This is a great tree – I planted two in my yard strategically to eventually block my view of my neighbors outdoor lights from my bedroom. It took a few years, but they work well. The only caveat I might add to your tip about bordering a drive with any evergreen, is that, unless your driveway is oriented to get some sun, the trees block the sun so snow and ice melt MUCH more slowly. Once place where I worked had yews on either side or a driveway – granted they were not all the way to the ground like the green giants are, but the drive was a pain in snowy/icy weather. One of my trees is in moist, clay soil and is very happy/healthy. The other is in a pretty damp area, that gets too much moisture – but it is doing ok, just not as tall or full as the other tree is.

  • limapie

    Song birds love them. They provide great shelter for nesting.

    • Carolob

      Thank you so much!!

  • Irena M

    What type of root system Green Giant have? Can they be planted above utility sewer easement?

  • Ryan Langton-Consolazio

    Help! How do I save this thuja? I planted it nearly a year ago and now it looks like it’s dying. I’ve tried watering it, but it just doesn’t want to live!

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/c7593763f37f0b3121c7b2c8fb82d73e5b78cd4a9c4ddbc2c32d21168a637860.jpg

    • Amanda

      Hi Ryan! You can try holding off on watering it until the soil is dry to the touch about 2 inches down from the top of the soil-line. It is very possible it’s getting too much water.

      • Ryan Langton-Consolazio

        Thank you! That would make sense since I just mulched the area a few weeks back..I’ve turned my sprinklers down so the shrubs don’t get as much water..

        • Amanda

          You’re welcome! Let us know if you ever have any more questions or concerns.

  • Michael Lemoine

    Hello–I live in the North East (RI). When is the best time of year to plant these trees, if that matters?

    • Amanda

      Hi Michael! The best time to plant any trees or shrubs are in the fall before the first frost. The second best time is in the spring. 😉

  • Irena M

    Thanks!

  • Carolob

    Last fall we planted a over 30 green giants in a double row, alternating the spacing. We munched the entire line of them. Grass/weeds are sprouting up with the wet weather and will be impossible to try to keep up with. We’re afraid to spray weed/grass killer in between the trees, fearing it will hurt them. Any suggestions?

    • Carolob

      Thanks, Amanda! I had read where some people thought spraying killed their trees since they thought it got into the ground around the trees and spread to the trees. I appreciate your help!

      • Amanda

        You’re welcome! It can harm your trees if it gets on them, that is for sure. As long as you’re careful not to let it touch the tree trunk or foliage, it should be fine. If that makes you nervous, you can also try a contact herbicide like diquat or pelargonic acid. These work best only on small weeds and won’t transfer to nearby trees.

  • Dave

    We recently planted 8′ tall Green Giants and would like to know how soon after planting that we can cut the top down to get some growth on the upper half of the tree. They are bushy at the bottom half and leggy at the top half.

  • Patty Hayden Jung

    Should I cut off the brown branches on my Thuja?

  • Dan Gowin

    I planted 100 that came in 3 12 pots. Some of them are turning brown. I water them every two days. Should I be watering them more? My soil drains well.

    • Amanda

      Hi Dan! It’s possible you could be over-watering them. Thuja Green Giants like to stay moist, but too much water can drown them. Try cutting back your watering to every 5 days or just once a week.

  • Patty Hayden Jung

    Thank you Amanda! So I assume it’s brown because it needs more water??

    • Amanda

      You’re welcome! It could be that it needs more water or it’s getting too much water. Thuja Green Giants like to stay moist but can drown if they have too much water. They should be watered every 5 to 7 days, and make sure the soil around it drains well.

      • Patty Hayden Jung

        Thank you Amanda! It’s quite tricky with our soil since it is heavy clay and doesn’t drain well. Thankfully it’s only one out of five that we planted this spring so I will keep an eye on moisture of soil. Thank you for your information!

  • Dave

    Thanks very much for the response. We will take your advice.

  • olga

    we just purchased 6 beautiful 3 foot ones. we’ve been watering every day because we are in tucson in 110 degrees weather. the tops of them are turning brown. we must be over watering them, correct? with our extreme heat we just don’t want them to die. help! 🙂

  • Laurel Kramer

    I have read that they only need to be watered a few times up a month, or the other post below every five days. Does the same go for newly planted trees? I live in Illinois where recently we have had days into the 90s and can go a week+ without rain. So I am super worried about them drying out!

  • olga

    thank you, amanda. we’re trying to play the waiting game and check the soil. our temps are blistering here in arizona…i do hope they survive. we may have planted them too late, maybe. time will tell. pray for our thuja’s! 🙂

  • Susan DeSantis Ferritto

    Hello there…I just purchased (15) 8.5 in.tall baby thuja’s for a privacy wall. Since they are still so fragile and it is mid-summer in Pennsylvania I transferred them to much larger individual pots and keep them out in the sun. My question is.would they still be too delicate to plant them in the fall or should I wait until this coming spring? And if I have to wait until next spring should I keep them in my garage for safety from our harsh winters? Thanking you in advance for your reply..SUSAN.

  • Susan DeSantis Ferritto

    Thank you so much Amanda…You’ve been a great help and I appreciate your time on this . Have a great day and God Bless.

    • Amanda

      You are most welcome, Susan! Please let me know if you ever have any other questions or concerns.