White cedar, known botanically as Thuja occidentalis and also commonly called arborvitae, is a species of evergreen shrubs and trees. White cedar is naturalized and cultivated in USDA Zones 2 through 8 and has several dozen cultivars and hybrids, including dwarf varieties. Like many evergreens, it is slow-growing and achieves a height between 20 and 40-feet and a spread up to 12-feet at maturity. White cedar can tolerate a range of soil conditions but thrives in moist and nutrient-rich soil.
Soil Texture and Content
White cedars are tolerant of a wide range of soil conditions and textures, provided the soil is friable and drains easily. Light clay, loamy, sandy and lightly aggregate soil textures are all workable. White cedar can also live in either acidic or alkaline soil with little trouble from chlorosis.
White cedars grow best when provided an evenly and consistently moist soil. They can easily tolerate even wet soils if the roots do not have to sit in pooled water over any extended period of time--more than a few days of heavy rain or temporary flooding. White cedar is also fairly drought-tolerant; although when exposed to drought stress repeatedly or over an extended period of time, the needle-like foliage can turn brown and drop.
Growing-soil for white cedar should have significant organic matter to provide good nutritional support and limit or negate the need for synthetic fertilizer. If the planting or existing soil is nutritionally weak, it will require generous lashings of aged livestock manure and compost to boost fertility. Evergreens respond well to one or two light applications of slow-release fertilizer each year. Select a complete slow-release granular fertilizer with a guaranteed analysis of 10-8- 6 and apply it according to the product label directions around the drip line of the white cedar.