Learn which plants thrive in your Hardiness Zone with our new interactive map!

How to Propagate White Cedar

By M.H. Dyer ; Updated September 21, 2017

White cedar (Thuja occidentalis) is a tall, slender evergreen tree with a neat, symmetrical pyramid shape. White cedar trees grow naturally in cool, moist areas, especially adjacent to lakes, where they offers winter habitat for birds and other wildlife. At maturity, white cedar trees can grow to heights of 50 feet or more, with a 10- to 12-foot spread. White cedar works very well planted as a hedge or privacy screen. Propagate white cedar from stem cuttings in early winter.

Cut several long, straight branches low on the white cedar tree, using a pair of clean, sharp pruners. The branches should be larger than the diameter of a pencil, but no larger than your little finger.

Divide the white cedar branch into smaller cuttings, each about 6 inches long, with at least three sets of needles. Make the cut nearest the bottom of the stem at an angle, directly beneath a set of needles. The end of the cutting that was higher on the branch should be cut straight across.

Fill a 1-gallon container with a mixture of half garden soil and half sand or peat moss. Be sure the container has a drainage hole in the bottom. Dampen the potting mixture before you plant the white cedar cuttings.

Strip the needles off the lower, slanted end of the white cedar cuttings. Dip the slanted ends in powdered rooting hormone, and plant the cuttings in the planting container, with the needles above the soil.

Put the container outdoors in a place where the white cedar cuttings will be protected from freezing temperatures, hard wind and hot sunlight. Cover the white cedar cuttings with clear plastic sheeting and mist the cuttings daily so they stay well hydrated. If you live in climate with hard freezes during the winter, you can put the container indoors as long as the atmosphere is cool and humid. The white cedar cuttings should be ready to be planted after a year.


Things You Will Need

  • Clean, sharp pruners
  • 1-gallon container with drainage hole
  • Garden soil
  • Sand or peat moss
  • Powdered rooting hormone
  • Clear plastic sheeting

About the Author


M.H. Dyer began her writing career as a staff writer at a community newspaper and is now a full-time commercial writer. She writes about a variety of topics, with a focus on sustainable, pesticide- and herbicide-free gardening. She is an Oregon State University Master Gardener and Master Naturalist and holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative nonfiction writing.