Arborvitae is a wonderful plant with thick green foliage that grows in abundance across the North American continent. In fact, there are many kinds of Arborvitae plants, and some of them can grow over 40 feet tall!
They are a hardy variety of trees, but care must be taken when caring for and growing them.
Why Grow Them?
Many people love Arborvitae trees because they tend to make great hedges. The species features thick and dense foliage that can easily be cut into a variety of shapes that are common for fence and hedge lines. The dense foliage also creates green areas that are lush and will provide plenty of shade for homes and people.
Typically, Arborvitae plants have the following characteristics:
- They grow to a set width and height, which makes them ideal for landscaping and hedges
- They are durable and hardy, with some varieties being drought tolerant
- They tend to grow quite quickly with minimal to moderate maintenance
While these characteristics feature across all varieties, not all of them have all three. You’ll find that some are more drought tolerant than others, for example.
How Can You Make Them Grow More Quickly?
If you’re setting up a yard from scratch, it’s always a good idea to have your plants grow as quickly as possible to maturity.
Of course, this is not always possible, but when it comes to Arborvitae trees, there are some things you can do to ensure faster growth, including:
1 – Plant Them at the Right Time of the Year
The fact is that Arborvitae are durable and hardy enough to be planted at any time of year, but you must be aware that there are more optimal weather conditions than others for planting. If you plant at the wrong time of year, you’ll just slow down the growth of the trees and this can be frustrating.
One of the worst times to plant Arborvitae is during the high summer heat. A very hot summer will dry out the soil, and planting in these conditions will not result in fast or optimal growth.
Many types of Arborvitae are drought tolerant, but they will not germinate in dry soil in the heat. It’s best to wait until the hot months of the year are over and then plant. One thing you can do is plant them in a pot and then keep them in partial shade so that they will at least receive some sun.
Just make sure that you keep the soil moist, but not overwatered.
2 – Plant Them in Acidic Soil
Arborvitae plants thrive best when planted in acidic soil. Many areas feature clay-based soil that is not ideal for this kind of plant.
If you have soil that isn’t acidic enough, you’ll need to prepare it by adding nutrients in the form of fertilizer before planting and growing.
3 – Choose the Right Type of Arborvitae
As mentioned earlier, there are many different types of Arborvitae. Even though they are all relatively hardy and can be planted at any time of the year, some varieties of this plant will grow better and faster than others in certain climates.
This 10 pack of Emerald Green Arborvitae on amazon is perfect for zones 4 – 8 and grows 10 – 15 feet high, by 3 – 4 foot wide. It can grow up to 1 – 2 feet per year!
On the other hand, if you’re looking for something much bigger, the Green Giant Arborvitae from Nature Hills Nursery grows up to 40 – 50 feet tall, by 8 – 12 feet wide. The Green Giant is good for zones 5 – 8. It grows quick too, with a growth rate of 3 – 5 feet per year.
4 – Plant Them Correctly
Arborvitae are often used as hedges to provide shade and protection. The problem is that sometimes they are planted too close together and this can cause some slow growth.
When you plant them, ensure that they are spaced in the correct way. Though they are great as hedge fencing, Arborvitae should be planted at least two feet apart from each other so that they are not competing for the nutrients in the soil.
Too much nutrient competition means that they will grow more slowly.
5 – Care for Them Properly During Winter Time
Even though Arborvitae trees are hardy and durable, you need to take care of them properly if you live in a region where there is snow during the winter season.
When snow and ice builds up around the base of the tree and on the branches, you need to knock it off. If it remains, it can damage the trees, slow their growth, and cause disease.
One way that you can maintain good care during winter and snowy conditions is to cover the Arborvitae trees with a mesh. This will ensure that the snow doesn’t build up on the branches and simply slides away.
The other benefit is that it will also keep animals away from damaging the trees.
6 – Make Sure You Water Them Properly
One of the characteristics of Arborvitae that people love so much is just how dense and green the foliage is. This also means that many people inexperienced with Arborvitae don’t water them enough in their first season of being planted.
Ideally, you should water your Arborvitae trees deeply at least in their first season. This must happen all season and it should be done by hand.
You might use a sprinkler or watering system, but the problem is that this usually only results in a superficial soak.
Water your newly planted Arborvitae trees each day for 10 minutes in their first seasons during the hot weather. As the season changes and the cooler weather comes in, just keep the soil moist, but not soaked.
This ensures that the newly planted Arborvitae will grow optimally during their first season.
If you’re going through a drought, it’s also a good idea to cover the soil surface with a nice thick layer of mulch. This will prevent the moisture in the soil after watering from drying up or evaporating too quickly.
There are many types of Arborvitae trees and they tend to be durable trees. People love their dense green foliage and the fact that they can be used as hedge rows.
Just remember to look after them properly so that their growth will be optimal.
By doing the right thing, your Arborvitae plants will thrive and prosper even in the heat of summer, and you can enjoy them all year round.
Growing up with a mom who filled her home (inside and out) with all sorts of plants, Lisa got her start in gardening at a young age. Living now on her own with a home and yard full of plants (including an indoor greenhouse), she shares all the gardening tips she’s gained over the years.
Monday 31st of January 2022
You write that Emerald Green Arborvitae can grow up to 5 feet per year. I'm reading 5 to 10 INCHES everywhere else. Are you sure on that claim?
Tuesday 1st of February 2022
Hi Duran, Thanks for catching that typo. It looks like the 5 feet per year was supposed to be under the Green Giant and not the Emerald Green.
Happy Planting, Lisa
Monday 20th of September 2021
Hi and thanks. I have 24 of them. Many I had to replace. In NC it's all clay. I dug big holes but other problems too much water and they turn yellow or die. I'm exhausted and desperate for help. I dug a drench to help drain. The water better just last week. Will appreciate any help.
Monday 20th of September 2021
#5 is incorrect. Winter burn/kill is caused from snow and ice melting then refreezing and sun hitting the plant and burning it. Covering it causes this to happen even worse as moisture gets caught up inside. I use wilt stop on the Southside only and follow instructions exactly. I've kept 23 from burning at all over 4 Wisconsin winters. Additionally, Rich in comment above is correct about using plant tone over holly tone.
Tuesday 14th of September 2021
You said it Hollytone, don't feed them Hollytone its made to acidify the soil, do you have alkaline soil use pine bark not Hollytone. Use treetone, check the pH if its under 6 and I'm sure it is put down a small amount of lime say 1/4 cup per tree check the pH, in three months if its 6.3 to 6.5 you are good if its still 5 you know what to do. The acidifier in Hollytone is toxic and kills soil bacteria needed to feed the trees, Espoma told me this.
Sunday 27th of June 2021
I planted my arborvitae trees3 years ago, they have grown a few inches but not much more. I planted them right beside a chain link fence and they are around 2 feet apart. They get plenty of sun and I water them (still) like every other day. I cover them in winter. I have 24 trees. Some look sparse like they are either dying or have been eaten by something, others look healthy but still not growing much. I feed them with Holly tone....wish I knew a magical fertilizer that would make them grown faster.