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How to Plant White Cedar Trees

White cedar tree or Thuja occidentalis was introduced in Europe in the 16th century. The slow-growing evergreen is popular in landscapes because of its ability to form hedges. The species does very well in different climates and growing conditions. White cedar can achieve heights of 25 to 40 feet. The trees spread about 10 to 12 feet, so they should be spaced accordingly. They prefer moist or wet soil in high humidity.

Grow white cedar trees in USDA plant hardiness zones 2 through 7. Prepare to plant the tree after the danger of frost has passed.

Choose a planting location that has partial shade to full sun. The white cedar isn't fussy about its sunlight requirement. The soil can be sandy, loamy or clay.

Plant several white cedar trees as a natural fence line or screen. They also work well in landscapes when planted at the corner of a building to soften the appearance of harsh angles.

Dig a hole that is twice as wide and 1 1/2 times as deep as the container the tree came in. Scrape the sides of the hole with the shovel to loosen the soil. This allows for better root spread.

Take the white cedar tree out of its pot and place it in the hole. Fill in around the roots with soil, until the hole is halfway full.

Add water to the hole to eliminate air pockets. Fill the rest of the hole with the removed soil. Water the tree again until moist.

Water the white cedar tree at least once a week until it becomes established. The goal is to keep it moist. To give the water time to sink into the ground, lay a garden hose on the ground and let it run slowly for 20 minutes.

Decrease watering to every two weeks once the tree becomes established.

Apply a time-release fertilizer once a year. Use one that is made for evergreen trees. Follow the manufacturer's instructions.

Prune damaged or diseased limbs as soon as you notice them. Cut them where they meet healthy wood.


Lay down 1 to 2 inches of mulch, such as bark chips, around the base of the white cedar to retain soil moisture.


Do not overfertilize your white cedar tree. Fertilizing too much or too often can burn or kill your white cedar.

Leaf blight causes brown spots on the leaves in late spring. The affected foliage appears scorched, then drops.

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