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Northern White Cedar

Will Ship Spring 2024

Plant Type: Evergreen, bare-root

Zones:  2-9

Soil Type:  Clay, Loamy & Sandy Soils

Site Selection: Full Sun, Partial Sun

Mature Height & Width:  30-40' Height and 10-12' Spread

Growth Rate:  Slow - 8-12" per year once established

Moisture Requirements: Average to wet soils

Northern White Cedar Plugs Also Available - CLICK HERE

Plant Characteristics

Northern White Cedar

Thuja occidentalis - American Arborvitae

The Northern White Cedar is often called the American Arborvitae. This cedar has flattened branches with green, scaly, fan-like foliage. This selection displays good cold hardiness and heat tolerance and is very popular for landscape, hedge rows, and wildlife plantings. The Northern White Cedar is adaptable to most soil types and is somewhat shade tolerant. This cedar will grow in average moisture conditions, but will also do well in those wetter or swampy areas of your property.

The Northern White Cedar is sometimes also known as the American Arborvitae, Eastern Arborvitae, Eastern White Cedar, Swamp Cedar, or the Atlantic Red Cedar.

The Northern White Cedar is a beautiful evergreen. Drying winter winds on an exposed site could damage the Northern White Cedar, causing it to turn brown. In areas with routine hot and dry spells, some shade is important for this tree to thrive. While this tree will tolerate various soil types, it will thrive on fertile soil that is constantly moist but well drained.

Fun fact: The oldest Northern White Cedar is 1,650 years old and located in Ontario, Canada.

Common uses for the Northern White Cedar:

  • Privacy screen or living fence
  • Year round color
  • Windbreaks
  • Shelter for many types of birds

The Northern White Cedar is a good choice for wildlife plantings. Birds love its dense habit for cover and protection. White-tailed deer and Snowshoe Hare use stands of cedar for shelter, and browsing especially during severe winters. Many types of wildlife enjoy this selection including Red Squirrel, Porcupine, Warblers and the Pileated Woodpecker.

Product Questions

I have planted a few dozen white cedars as a windbreak. Each year they develop cracks in the lower trunk bark, some quite severe so that bare wood is showing. Some have died due to drying out of the bark when there is extensive bark cracking. When I look at white cedars in the wild I don't see this problem. Any advice on preventing the cracking?
Question by: Paul Blommel on Oct 1, 2020, 11:45 AM
Young trees with thin bark can be susceptible to bark splitting. Usually not fatal, the open area can allow for ease of entry by disease organisms. This can cause decay. Avoid fertilizing trees late in the growing season. Frost cracks may occur during late winter/early spring when temperatures fluctuate dramatically. Cold nighttime temps. may cause the water inside the trunk to freeze and therefore split the bark. Another cause may be excessive or vigorous growth during a wet season which is following dry weather. Yet another cause may be sunscald, which may be lessened by avoiding heavy pruning in trees with dense canopies. It is better to to thin the limbs gradually, over a period of several years. Here is a link to a pertinent information page from the MSU Extension.
Answer by: Chief River Nursery on Oct 1, 2020, 4:21 PM
Will deer damage Northern White Cedar? If so, how long will the plants require protection?
Question by: Kira Born on Oct 20, 2020, 9:12 AM
Yes dear will enjoy the young seedlings very much. There are a few different choices as to how to protect the seedlings until they get established. You can cage them in some manner either use hardware cloth, chicken wire or fencing of some sort, or you can use a deer repellent product.
Answer by: Chief River Nursery on Oct 20, 2020, 11:08 AM