The United States Department of Agriculture lists the District of Columbia and 18 states--Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia--for the Northeast. The USDA Hardiness Zones for this region range from zone 2 to zone 7. Small cedar trees are hardy as far north as zone 3 and further south than zone 7, giving most gardeners in the area the opportunity to enjoy a cedar tree even in a small space.
Eastern Red Cedar
Eastern red cedar (Juniperus virginiana) is hardy as far north as USDA Hardiness Zone 3. The tree grows, at the most, 40 to 50 feet tall and 8 to 15 feet wide. The tree produces medium green needles that grow close to the stems and turn a bronze color in the fall. The yellow male flowers and the green female flowers bloom in the winter and are followed by small cones that remain on the tree for a year. Plant eastern red cedar in full sun.
White cedar (Thuja occidentalis) is also known as eastern arborvitae and American arborvitae. The tree grows from 20 to 50 feet tall and 10 to 15 feet wide with a densely packed cone shape and either one or multiple trunks. The small green to dark green leaves overlap each other with the appearance of a long rope and change to yellow-green or brown in the fall. The small flowers give way to small brown or tan cones. Plant white cedar in full sun and a moist to wet loam soil. The tree is hardy as far north as USDA Hardiness Zone 3.
Atlantic whitecedar (Chamaecyparis thyoides), also known as whitecedar and falsecypress, is hardy as far north as USDA Hardiness Zone 4 and grows up to 50 feet tall and 10 to 20 feet wide. The tree produces bright green to blue-green needles that turn brown the second year and stay on the tree for several more years and small, brown cones that grow in clusters. Plant Atlantic whitecedar in full sun and a deep, moist to wet sandy soil.
Atlas cedar (Cedrus atlantica) grows from 40 to 60 feet tall and 20 to 40 feet wide. The tree produces blue-green leaves that grow to 1 inch long and egg-shaped cones 3 inches long that turn from green to brown as they mature.
Plant atlas cedar in full sun or partial shade and a moist soil. The tree is hardy as far north as USDA Hardiness Zone 5.