Cedar Tree Care & Selection Guide

Cedar Tree Care & Selection Guide

Cedar Trees in a park

Fantastic greenery year-round, fall color, dense privacy and wind-blocking foliage, Cedar trees and their cousins are ideal for a wide range of landscaping needs! You and your feathered friends will appreciate these four-season wonders for the seclusion, noise cancelation and dampening, cooling shade and screening they provide!

The wood from many Cedar trees is highly fragrant and resists decay and pests. Traditionally used for fence posts, shingles and siding, it seemed that everyone's Grandma had a cedar chest! Anything in that chest would be protected from insects and carried that wonderful scent!

Nature Hills grows many different kinds of Cedar trees, and we’re sure there is at least one that will work for you! 

Cedar Tree Care, Planting & Pruning

Cedar, or Cedrus, are coniferous plants found growing wild from the western Himalayan mountains to the arid Mediterranean. Thriving in high and low altitudes, they are highly adaptable to a wide range of climates and conditions!

Their members can be fast-growing and in a vast range of shapes and sizes! Once established, they can handle the heat, frigid cold, heavy snow, and drought. As with any landscape investment, provide your tree with ample water during the growing season and don’t let them go into winter dry

They need to be planted in very well-drained soil that won’t pool for long periods and appreciate a thick layer of mulch over their roots to insulate and regulate moisture.

Most do best in full sun and even some tolerating partial shade! All prefer a location that protects them from windburn from dry northern winter winds. 

Arborvitae and some Cedar can be sheared for a more formal look or to control the size, or allowed to grow naturally. Prune minimally for a natural look and to keep the limbs to the ground for the best effect possible!

Ways to use Cedar in the Landscape

  • Windbreaks
  • Shelterbelts
  • Privacy, Screening & Block Eye-Sores
  • Bird-Friendly Shelterbelts
  • Year-Round Greenery & Backdrops
  • Friendly Fencing & Property Division
  • Colorful Accents
  • Space-Saving 
  • Focal Points & Anchors
  • Deer Resistant
  • Urban Conditions
  • Salt Tolerant
  • Cold Hardy
  • Fast-Growing
  • Minimal Upkeep & Care

The True Cedar

A large-scale plant for growing in USDA zones 7-11, the mighty Deodar Cedar (Cedrus deodara) is a towering grower that has arching branches so very graceful in appearance that many times in warmer climates, it is used for a living Christmas tree! An elegant evergreen, it looks best in natural groups for screening, as a specimen as a focal point in your yard or perhaps as a potted plant on your patio while it is young.

Beautiful fine-textured, silvery-gray evergreen foliage makes this one a winner! Reaching 50 feet plus tall and 30 feet wide, you better be ready to give it some room to spread its wings. 

The almost spiky and highly architectural, Blue Atlas Cedar Tree (Cedrus atlantica 'Glauca') is a fantastic blue-tone Cedar that can reach upwards of 60 feet in height and 30 - 40 feet wide. Like the Deodar, its color remains true all year round. The steely blue needles carry that redolent scent and the disease-resistance the species is known for. Growing slow and steady throughout USDA zones 6 - 8.

Specialty Cedar Trees

Cedar trees naturally soar to incredible heights, but some newer varieties have been developed with a twist - literally!

The Green Arrow Weeping Alaskan Cedar is an incredible columnar Cedar that reaches for the sky but stays a slim 2-4 feet in width. Carrying the same architectural spiky form and blue-gray color of the Blue Atlas, Green Arrow is ideal for tight spaces.

Horstmann Blue Atlas Cedar trees are another type of Blue Atlas but pint-sized and even perfect for large planters! Reaching a demure 15 feet and only 6-8 feet wide, Horstmann has all the same unique coloration, fragrance and form as its big brother.

Contrary to the upright and spiky nature of its siblings, the Weeping Blue Atlas Cedar is a Cedar that lazily drapes its branches in a cascading manner and gives any landscape a magical effect! Eventually reaching 15 - 20 feet in height and width, this is an incredible blue-tone Cedar with a whimsical laid-back style.

Cedar by Name & Nature

Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana) is a tough old goat and is widely distributed across many states natively through USDA zones 3 - 9. While accidentally called a Cedar by early colonists in Virginia, it is botanically a Juniper. They do carry the same resinous fragrance, durable rot-proof wood and disease resistance as their namesakes! 

Often seen growing along roadsides in sunny, dry and well-drained areas. They tolerate drought, road salt resistance, and deer do not seem to like them as much. 

The small berries that can be produced on the female plants are actually soft cones and the Cedar Waxwings and other birds absolutely love them! Eastern Red Cedars are fantastic shelter and nesting for a wide variety of wildlife in those open areas where they like to grow. 

They are not only good for native plantings but also work well in poor soils where it can be hot and dry in urban areas too. In the fall and winter months, the needle color changes from a green or silvery green to a purplish-plum color which can be an interesting attribute as well. 

Eastern Red Cedar are upright growing and quite variable in size but can get 40 - 50 feet and 12 or 18 feet wide. Hard-working for open windy areas that take the heat and drier soils, block wind, they create fast-growing privacy and screening! 

Cryptomeria Cousins

Compact and fluffy, the Chapel View™Japanese Cedar (Cryptomeria japonica 'PIICJ-I') are bushy trees with the same flaking, red bark and fantastic scent that earned them the Cedar name. Growing to only 10 feet or so tall and 6 - 8 feet wide, and thriving throughout the warmer growing zones of 6 - 9.

A gorgeously soft and natural-looking evergreen with deep dark-green needles featuring a bluish cast, they hold that color all winter long unlike some other members of the species. The bulky pyramidal form is dense and fills in quickly with the plants planted next to it.

They are the perfect way to screen out unsightly views and nosey neighbors. Check out Chapel View Japanese Cedar for your next screening project!

On the opposite end of the size spectrum, the Dwarf Japanese Cedar (Cryptomeria japonica 'Globosa Nana') is a soft green, irregular-shaped, mounding and spreading shrub that can be used sheared for more formal use or allowed to grow naturally and used as a foundation plant. 

This little guy gets 4 - 5 feet high and wide or maybe a bit larger with age and works in zones 5 - 9. It makes a friendly fence or killer backdrop to your favorite perennial garden. These slow growers prefer well-drained soils, full sun or part shade and exhibit drought tolerance, making them easy to grow with very little maintenance required!

The Thuja

Again their bark, scent and durability earned many in the Arborvitae family the name Cedar as well! These fantastic trees and shrubs carry all the deer-resistant, pest-resistant and dense privacy, scent and bark as a true Cedar!

Western Arborvitae (Thuja plicata 'SMNTPGF') is a classic upright screening plant that is fast-growing and excellent in groups. Sometimes also called Western Red Cedar.

The Fluffy™ Western Arborvitae is a smaller chartreuse-colored Thuja that brightens landscapes as eye-catching accents 6 - 10 feet tall and 6 - 8 feet wide. 

Nature Hills also offers the incredibly unique Whipcord Western Red Cedar (Thuja plicata 'Whipcord') which is a small dwarf specimen that creates a 4 - 5 foot tall and wide mophead of long weeping branches. This little curiosity is deer-resistant and can live for upwards of 50 years! It takes on a bronzed winter color too!

Arborvitae means “tree of life” and their fluffy, soft growth and lush, vivid green color really stand out in the landscape. We currently have several selections to choose from in all shapes and sizes! 

One of our most popular screening plants is the Green Giant Arborvitae (Thuja standishii x plicata 'Green Giant') because of the fast growth rate and a nice soft green all year-round. Left unpruned, and planted in a staggered row, they make a fantastic natural-looking screen or windbreak or the perfect backdrop and screening for your back or side yard.

Once they get a few feet tall the deer seem to leave them alone. These and other Western Arborvitae can also be sheared into a more formal hedge. Fast and adaptable in zones 5 - 8, Green Giant reaches 40 feet or so, and about half that wide when mature. 

Their cousins have a wide variety of colors, shapes and heights available! See the chartreuse Forever Goldy®, the fluffy Sugar and Spice, or tall Spring Grove® for more landscaping options!

And don’t miss the adorable little Tater Tot™Arborvitae for a smaller Western Red Cedar shrub that never gets bigger than 1 - 2 feet tall or wide!

White Cedar Trees 

Arborvitae Thuja occidentalis is also commonly known as the American Arborvitae, White Cedars or Eastern White Cedar. This species is a bit hardier than the Western Arborvitae and can be used across a very wide range in many climates and they are very adaptable. Plus good news for landscapers - they come in many forms and colors!

We currently offer some tall and skinny forms of American Arborvitaes that make the perfect hedge without taking up much space, while at the same time screening out unwanted views. Make garden rooms and peaceful screening with the tall, narrow and pointed Degroot’s Spire, North Pole, American Pillar, or Emerald Green Arborvitae, just to name a few.

The Techny and American Arborvitae selections are a bit broader and very dense and many times used for screening larger areas with fewer plants. 

Lastly, Nature Hills has a few rounded or globe-shaped American Arborvitae shrub selections that keep their rounded shape whether you prune it or not. These are all excellent options for foundation plantings or hedges worth looking at and tuck into mixed-shrub beds and borders or as low edging! 

They include the chartreuse Golden Globe and flame-touched Fire Chief, both have excellent colors and round form! Mr. Bowling Ball, Technito Globe, Hertz Midget, and Little Giant are all excellent maintenance-free options, each with its own unique characteristics. 

Arborvitae tolerates moist soils well, yet once established becomes quite tolerant of most situations. Great green year-round evergreens, fantastic fragrance, high adaptability, and oh-so-versatile!

Watch our ever-changing availability with fresh options arriving all of the time!

Choosing The Right Cedar For You

Whether you need privacy, specimen plants that turn heads and boost curb appeal, or need to block the wind and noise, Cedar trees and their namesake are up to the challenge! Plus you’ll enjoy the year-round presence, bird-friendly habitat, fragrance, texture and incredible perseverance in spite of climate, weather and urban conditions!  

Don’t hesitate to reach out to NatureHills.com and our knowledgeable customer service reps for help choosing the perfect tree or shrub for your landscape! 

When it comes to Cedar trees and their cousins, Nature Hills Nursery has plenty to choose from! Head over to our website and choose your growing zone and then pick which of these fantastic trees you want to include in your landscape today!

Happy Planting!

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