How to Grow Cedar Trees in California


Cedar trees are coniferous evergreens that grow in the California landscape in areas where the USDA hardiness zone is 9 or lower. The tree creates an ornamental feature and produces a scented wood that repels moths and other insects. Plant cedar trees once the weather begins to warm in early spring, making sure there is no risk of frost in the cooler California climates. Use caution when digging around the cedar tree since the tree forms a shallow root system.

Step 1

Choose a planting location for the cedar that receives full sunlight and has a well-draining soil. Test the soil prior to planting to verify it is alkaline with a pH of 8 or higher. Work limestone into the soil according to the package instruction to raise the pH number, if needed.

Step 2

Plant the cedar tree in a hole that is the same depth as the root ball and slightly wider. Set the tree into the hole and pack soil around the roots to limit air pockets.

Step 3

Apply water on a daily basis through drip irrigation for the first year after planting. Place a 5-gallon bucket with a 1/4-inch hole drilled into the bottom lip approximately 1 foot from the base of the tree. Fill the bucket with water and let it slowly drip out over the root ball.

Step 4

Water established cedar trees once a week with drip irrigation during periods of drought to limit stress on the tree. Cedar trees are drought tolerant, but perform better when given supplemental water.

Step 5

Apply 2 to 3 inches of cedar mulch over the root ball of the cedar tree to prevent weed growth and provide extra moisture retention that benefits the tree during the hot California summer. Leave a 6-inch gap between the start of the mulch and trunk of the cedar tree.

Step 6

Fertilize the cedar tree by applying blood meal or composted manure around over the root ball area of the tree. Sprinkle the area with water for several minutes to promote absorption into the root ball.

Step 7

Prune established cedar trees to remove dead or damaged branches in the late winter season once the tree goes dormant. Prune branches in the tree canopy to create a desired shape and remove branches that rub on each other.

Things You'll Need

  • Soil pH test
  • Limestone
  • Shovel
  • 5-gallon bucket
  • Drill
  • Cedar mulch
  • Blood meal or composted manure
  • Pruning clipper


  • The Cedar Guys: Cedar Maintenance
  • Tree Help: Cedar
  • National Gardening Association: U.S. Hardiness Zones
Keywords: grow cedar California, plant cedar California, grow cedar tree

About this Author

Jennifer Loucks has over 10 years of experience as a former technical writer for a software development company in Wisconsin. Her writing experience includes creating software documentation and help documents for clients and staff along with training curriculum. Loucks holds a Bachelor of Science major from the University of Wisconsin - River Falls specializing in animal science and business.