Cedar trees are an impressive, majestic tree for the home landscape. Modern cultivars, with their blue to silver needles, add an interesting contrast to the green of other landscape trees year round. They are very easy to care for and require little to no pruning or training to develop into strong, long-lived but slow-growing plants.
Only four species exist in the genus Cedrus: Atlas cedar, Cyprian cedar, Deodar cedar and cedar of Lebanon. (Some botanists do not count the Cyprian variety.) Others consider the Atlas cedar to be the same species as the cedar of Lebanon. Numerous forms have been developed and brought into cultivation including blue, weeping and yellow types.
All four species of cedar inhabit a different geographical range. Deodar cedar is native to the Hindu Kush region of India and Pakistan. Atlas cedar grows naturally in the Atlas mountains of Northwest Africa. Cyprian cedar is native to the Mediterranean Island of Cyprus. The cedar of Lebanon grows in Lebanon, Syria and Turkey. All four types grow in the low mountainous areas within their range.
Cedars are evergreen conifer trees reaching 130 to 160 feet tall but usually shorter in cultivation. The exception is Cyprian cedar, which stays shorter at 70 feet. They all grow in a pyramidal shape and flatten out at the top when mature with the exception of the Deodar cedar, which tends to retain the pyramid shape. The needle color varies from green to silvery-blue. They develop separate male and female cones on the same tree, but usually on different branches.
Cedar wood is valued for its rot resistance. Cedar of Lebanon is mentioned in many historical records, including Biblical literature, and was used for construction.
In the landscape, cedars make a good specimen or focal point tree in a large area. Many different cultivars have been introduced, including a form of the Atlantic cedar 'Glauca,' which has strikingly blue foliage. Another important Atlantic cedar cultivar is 'Glauca Pendula,' which is a weeping form with blue needles that is often used near decks and patios.
Atlantic, Cyprian and Cedar of Lebanon are hardy in USDA zones 6 through 9. Deodar cedar is hardy in zones 7 through 8. They all like a well-draining soil but are not too picky about specific conditions. They cannot tolerate constantly wet ground. Young trees need some light shade to avoid burning, but full sun after they mature. They are tolerant of hot dry conditions, but Deodar cedar benefits from higher humidity levels.