Skip to content

Arborvitae General Care

Arborvitae trees come in many shapes. From pyramid and conical to ball-shaped, these trees live anywhere from 50-150 years. They do well in zones 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9. Arborvitae prefer sun and part shade and can be used as privacy screening plants, windbreaks, or in rock gardens. They tend to grow anywhere from 1-2 feet per year.

Planting Arborvitae Trees
The hole that you dig to plant your Arborvitae should be wide and shallow. It is recommended that the top of the root ball be above ground level once you fill your hole in with soil.
Make sure that you give adequate spacing between young trees depending on the growth expectation of their mature sizes.
Arborvitae trees like to have well-drained, nutrient-rich soil. The pH should be between 7-8. They will do well in partial shade, but they truly thrive in full sun.

Winter Care for Arborvitae
During the winter, you will want to protect your Arborvitae trees from the cold as well as dehydration due to no rainfall. Applying a 6-inch layer of mulch around the tree that spreads out 3 feet in each direction will help to lock moisture in and protect the roots of your Arborvitae. Water the tree when the temperature is above freezing for at least one day before and one day after.
Make sure that snow does not fall too heavily on young trees or branches during the winter. This will cause your tree to bend or snap. High winds can also have this affect. You will also want to move any snow that gathers around the base of the tree if it is young. This will help to prevent winter burn.

Watering Arborvitae Trees
A drip irrigation system is a good way to ensure that your newly planted Arborvitae keep well moisturized. ‘Low and slow’ is the preferred method for newly planted Arborvitae as their soil needs to be consistently moist. Approximately a few drops every second for 2-4 hours on the first 10 days should suffice. This can be cut back to every other day after 10 days, and then every 3-4 days every week after that. By this time, you will want to make sure that the topsoil is dry before you water the tree again. After another week or two, you will want to cut it back to once a week.
Another idea is a soaker hose that waters your tree for 24 hours twice a week for the first season that your Arborvitae is in the ground.

Arborvitae Fertilizing
Fertilizing with granular, slow-release fertilizer once a year is all that Arborvitae need. Nitrogen fertilizer is very important, but a general fertilizer with a variety of nutrients is best. This should be done in the spring before the tree shows new growth. Follow package instructions and apply the fertilizer approximately 3 feet out from the trunk of the tree in each direction.
If your tree does not seem like it needs fertilizing, then you do not have to add any. Arborvitae growing in hedges will be more likely to need fertilizer since there are more trees in the same amount of space taking up the limited nutrients of the soil.

Arborvitae Pruning
Arborvitae trees will generally maintain the shape they have naturally, but you can prune for aesthetics. Fall or early winter pruning is highest recommended.

Pest of Arborvitae
The main pest of Arborvitae is deer. They will eat the leaves of the young trees, so fencing off the Arborvitae would be the easiest solution.
Another pest that bothers Arborvitae trees are Bagworms. Bagworms will cocoon onto the leaves and small branches of the Arborvitae. Spraying will treat these.
Mold, mildew, and sun scorch are other issues that Arborvitae trees may face. Make sure to keep an eye out for dead or dying leaves as well as fungus or mold-like growths on leaves.