Eastern White Cedar Care


The eastern white cedar (Thuja occidentalis) is an attractive, cone-shaped tree. The wood of the tree is fragrant and is resistant to decay, making it a popular choice for use in damp situations, such as shingles on a cabin. Often called the "tree of life" for the fact that this trees provides food and shelter for many forest animals, the eastern white cedar is also a popular choice with landscapers and home gardeners.


This tree is found in climates that have mild summers and cold winters. The eastern white cedar is found in the northeastern areas of the United States and grows best in United States Department of Agriculture USDA hardiness zones 2 through 7.


The eastern white cedar needs at least partial sunlight in order to thrive. Exposure to at least six hours of light each day is necessary for young trees to grow. Established trees can tolerate shadier conditions. Seedlings that grow in complete shade on the forest floor will quickly decline and die.


This particular tree is desirable for its ability to grow on a wide range of soils, from sphagnum bogs to much-drier limestone plains. Ideally, the eastern white cedar prefers moist, well-draining soil that is not highly acidic. Most importantly, the eastern white cedar is notable for its ability to grow in shallow soil, according to an instructional guide on the tree published by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources.


Eastern white cedars are hardy trees. Once established, they need minimum care, if even that. The soil around young seedlings should be kept moist during the first growing season. These trees can survive both periodic flooding and periods of drought. Still, supplemental watering of home landscape white cedar trees during unusually long, hot dry periods can benefit the tree.

Pests and Diseases

These trees are relatively free of insect pests and diseases, according to a publication endorsed by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. Leaf miners and caterpillars can cause the needles of the tree to turn brown and curl up, and too much salt in the soil (often caused by the over-use of fertilizer) can damage the roots of the tree, causing an overall decline. Deer and other animals can injure the bark of the tree. Monitor the tree for signs of insect infestation in the spring, and treat it with an insecticide. To protect against wildlife, place chicken wire or another barrier around the trunk of the tree.

Keywords: Eastern white cedar, care of cedar, tree of life

About this Author

April Sanders has been a professional writer since 1998. Previously, she worked as an educator and currently writes academic research content for EBSCO publishing and elementary reading curriculum for Compass Publishing. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in social psychology from the University of Washington and a master's degree in information sciences and technology in education from Mansfield University.