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Tips on Planting White Cedar

By D.C. Winston ; Updated September 21, 2017
The branch tips of a white cedar tree.
Perle image by KatiKlint from Fotolia.com

White cedar, known botanically as Thuja occidentalis, is an evergreen tree that has scaly, fine foliage in feathery spreading, but markedly flat, branch tips. White cedar is a versatile, low-maintenance tree and is grown as an ornamental specimen or planted en masse for windbreaks and screen hedging. White cedar, like many evergreens, is slow growing and demands nutrient-rich, moist soil and high-ambient humidity for optimal performance, according to the University of Florida.

Planting Site

Plant your white cedar tree in a location where it will receive full sun or partial shade exposure each day. Afternoon or filtered partial shade in warmer, drier and/or sunnier climates can help prevent dehydration and the attendant browning of foliage.

Soil Qualities

White cedar thrives in a range of nutrient-rich soils that hold a good amount of organic matter. They prefer moist to wet soil provided it is easy draining and the water does not pool or remain trapped around the roots, as can happen with very heavy clay. Cedar will tolerate a range of soil pH from acid to slightly alkaline. Soils with a pH above 8 should be amended to reduce the pH.

Placement and Spacing

White cedar trees reach between 25 and 40 feet in height at maturity and should be planted where there is sufficient vertical headroom so transplanting or top pruning will never be necessary. Allow a minimum of 10 to 12 feet between trees when planting as specimens. When planting en masse for thick screening hedging, space the cedars every 8 to 10 feet on center.