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Monday - January 31, 2011

From: Eastlake, OH
Region: Midwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Growth rate of Thuja occidentalis
Answered by: Anne Bossart


What is the growth rate of thuja occidentalis? I have found web sites and books claiming slow to fast.


I have found that many answers to gardening questions begin with "well, it depends" and this is one of them.

According to our Native Plant Database Thuja occidentalis (Arborvitae) grows "slowly" but that is a relative term. It has a very broad native range as you can see on the map in the USDA Database entry, stretching from Northern Canada to South Carolina, so that may be why you find inconsistencies in the references.

As you can imagine, how fast it grows depends on where it is planted.  The longer the growing season, the more growth it can achieve in a season, resulting in a seemingly "faster" growth rate.  Plant growth rates are also dependant on the abundance of water, nutrients and light.  So an arborvitae planted in the north in an ideal  location will actually grow faster than one eking out an existence on the north side of a dry hillside much further south.

You must be considering planting one or you wouldn't have asked the question.  You may find the information you need by visiting a local nursery or contacting your local agricultural extension service, describing to them where it will be planted and what "job" it has to do. They will be able to tell you if it will grow fast enough to satisfy you.  If not, they may be able to recommend a substitute.

Thuja occidentalis


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