Thuja: recommendations for planting and care in open ground

Table of contents:

Thuja: recommendations for planting and care in open ground
Thuja: recommendations for planting and care in open ground

Characteristics of the thuja plant, the rules for planting and growing on a personal plot, how to reproduce, fight against diseases and pests, interesting notes and applications, types and varieties.

Thuja (Thuja) botanists referred to the genus of conifers that are part of the Cypress family (Cupressaceae). These representatives of the flora grow on the territory of the North American continent and in the East Asian regions. Contains a genus of five species and about 120 varieties and varieties, characterized by a tree or shrub form of vegetation and differing in the color of the needles and the outline of the crown.

Family name Cypress
Growing period Perennial
Vegetation form Tree or shrub
Breeds Generatively (by seeds), vegetatively (by cuttings and division)
Open ground transplant terms Better in spring, but rarely planted in autumn
Landing rules Saplings are placed at a distance of 1-5 m from each other when planting in groups, 3-4 m when forming an alley
Priming Light and nutritious, sandy loam or loamy
Soil acidity values, pH 6, 5-7 (neutral) or 5, 5-6 (slightly acidic)
Illumination level High in the morning hours, scattered in the afternoon
Humidity level Regular weekly watering of young plants, adults - a little less often. Sprinkle irrigation method
Special care rules Fertilization and pruning required
Height options 11–70 m
Flowering period It does not, since it is considered decorative leafy, but the formation of male and female cones occurs
Fruit type Winged seeds
The timing of fruit ripening In the first year to fall
Decorative period Year-round
Application in landscape design Group planting, either as a tapeworm, the formation of alleys and hedges
USDA zone 4 and up

The genus got its name thanks to the Greek word “thuo”, which translates as “fumigate” or “sacrifice”. This is because when the thuja branches are burned, a pleasant aroma with sweetish notes spreads around. It is these fumigations that have been used since ancient times in carrying out temple rituals and sacrifices. People can hear how the plant is called "life tree" or "tree of life" because of its medicinal properties.

Thuja (almost all of its species) is a shrub characterized by evergreen foliage. However, in rare cases, some specimens take on the appearance of rather large trees, whose height parameters are 70 m, while the crown diameter can be measured 2.5 m (occasionally reaching 6 m). In garden cultivation, the height of plants will not exceed 11 m. Crohn thuja can take on a pyramidal shape or have an ovoid shape. It is composed of a large number of branched branches in one plane, growing very densely.

The color of the bark of the shoots has a grayish-brown tint, but the young branches are covered with bark with a reddish or reddish tint. When the plants are young, their leaves (needles) are soft to the touch, resemble flat needles; as they grow older, the leaf plates of the thuja take a scale-like shape and grow crosswise in opposite order. The color of young needles is pale greenish, but when aging occurs, this color becomes darker and more saturated, taking on a dark emerald tone. But in some species, the color of the needles can vary from green to reddish, and sometimes even differ in variegated coloring.

Tui are monoecious gymnosperms, that is, only female or male flowers are present on each specimen. Although these organs can be called flowers conditionally, they are represented by cones in the "life tree". Those, in turn, are characterized by oval or oblong contours, have 4-12 scales, while in the upper part they are sterile. The rest contain one, but in rare cases, two or three ovules. When the fertilization of female thuja cones occurs, flat-shaped seeds ripen in them. Each seed has a pair of narrowed wings. Maturation occurs in the first year of bud formation.

Such representatives of the flora as thuja are capable of reaching 150 years of age, but there are specimens that have crossed this age line. Moreover, such "life trees" survive the winters perfectly in our latitudes (especially the western thuja). With their decorative outlines, undemandingness and resistance to urban polluted air, these cypress trees have long won the hearts of gardeners, and even a person who has little experience in gardening can cope with their cultivation.

Thuja: rules for planting and care in the open field

Thuja on the site
Thuja on the site
  1. Landing place "Tree of life" must be selected carefully, as the plant prefers good lighting, but being under the sun all day long, thuja can lose moisture and dehydrate, which will subsequently negatively affect its wintering. Therefore, it is better to choose an east or west location so that there is enough light there, but shading is provided at noon. In addition, thuja is thermophilic and can suffer from drafts and waterlogged soil, so it is important not to plant it in lowlands or in places close to groundwater.
  2. Soil for thuja you should choose light and nutritious, it is desirable that the soil mixture is composed of sod soil, into which peat and river sand are mixed. But in nature, the "life tree" often grows on poorer substrates, prone to waterlogging, with an admixture of clay or sandy loam. The acidity of the soil can be neutral (pH 6, 5–7) or slightly acidic (pH 5, 5–6).
  3. Planting thuja preferable in spring, but it can be done in autumn as well. However, in the latter case, there is a possibility that the plant will not be able to adapt normally to the onset of cold weather. A hole for planting a seedling should be dug in accordance with the size of its earthen coma surrounding the root system. Such a depression should exceed the earthen lump by 35–40 cm in width and almost 15–30 cm deeper. When planting thuja seedlings in groups, they should be placed at least 1–5 m apart. to protect the roots from possible waterlogging. Well-rotted manure or compost must be mixed into the soil, which is poured into the pit, for nutritional value. Before placing a thuja seedling in a pit, its roots are dipped into a container of water, and kept there until air bubbles stop appearing on the water surface. After that, the plant is ready for planting - it is placed in the center of the recess and the root shoots are straightened, then the remaining voids are filled with soil mixture. The root neck of the thuja should remain slightly above the ground level in the area. After planting, the ground in the root zone is slightly squeezed and abundant watering is carried out. When all the moisture goes into the soil and it settles a little, mulching the root zone of the thuja seedling is performed to protect the soil from rapid drying, too high or low temperatures and prevent weeds from growing. The mulch can be peat chips, conifer bark or compost. When mulching the root zone of thuja, make sure that the material does not cover the trunk and lower shoots of the plant.
  4. Watering when growing thuja in the garden, they are carried out regularly, but in moderation, it is preferable to carry out sprinkling - the plant responds to such moisture with excellent growth. After the planting has been carried out, it is recommended to water the seedlings abundantly for the first few years, so that at least 10–15 liters of water are needed for each specimen. Sprinkling not only saturates the substrate with moisture, but also rinses off the dust from the coniferous mass and twigs. The opening of the leaves of the leaves takes place, and then the "vital tree" will be easier to consume air and at the same time all physiological processes will proceed better and faster. After the thuja is watered, the soil in the root zone needs to be loosened so that it does not turn into a crust. Loosening depth should not exceed 8-10 cm, as the roots are not too deep.
  5. Fertilizers when caring for thuja, they are also needed, like any other plant. It is recommended in the spring to use complete mineral complexes such as Kemira-Universal, Compo or PLANTOFOL. The drug is taken for 1 m2 approximately 50-60 grams. If the fertilizing was applied during planting, then the next time the "vital tree" is fertilized two years later.
  6. Thuja pruning. This operation will stimulate the density and splendor of the crown of the plant. There are no strict rules here, but the best time will be spring, while the buds on the branches have not yet opened. When growing an alley or hedge from thuja, a haircut will be simply necessary in order to comply with the shape verified by the gardener. If the plant is located in the middle of the lawn as a tapeworm, then it is worth removing after winter only the shoots affected by frost or broken by the snow cover - sanitary pruning. It is also worth removing branches thickening the crown. In case of group plantings of thuja, pruning is also necessary, since without forming the crown of the plant, it will look sloppy. When molding pruning, only 1/3 of the branch should be removed, otherwise the thuja may weaken. Forming is recommended only when the specimens have matured and reached the size required by the gardener. The shoots are cut for the first time only when the plant reaches 2-3 years of age. For the procedure, you need to use a well-pointed pruner so that the branches are cut off in one motion, and they are not “chewed” and crumpled.
  7. Thuja transplant carried out when you need to change the place of cultivation. Usually this operation is experienced by the "tree of life" relatively easily. The soil around the small-sized specimens is stitched round, stepping back from the trunk 40–50 cm. Then the plant is gently pushed with an earthen clod surrounding the root system and removed from the soil. The thuja is transported to the new landing site using a wheelbarrow so that the earthen lump does not collapse too much. If the plant is large, then the piercing is done about a year before transplanting. Then such an instance of thuja will have enough time to build up young roots. Landing is carried out as described earlier. An adult "life tree" takes root in a new place more easily than other representatives of conifers.
  8. Thuja wintering. With the arrival of autumn days, watering and feeding stop, as this will interfere with preparing for the cold. If the specimens are under five years old, then it is recommended to provide shelter using spruce branches. But before that, it is necessary to perform high hilling, mulch into the near-trunk zone using peat chips or sawdust. When the thuja is adult, it is not necessary to cover it, but the mulching layer should still be put, it will protect the root system from frost. When a large amount of snow falls in winter, its mass on the branches can provoke injury and even break. To avoid such troubles, it is recommended to tie the branches of the plant with twine, gently pulling them to the trunk. Since with the arrival of spring, the coniferous mass may suffer from the scorching sun's rays, it should be thrown onto the thuy covering arow fiber. It happens that in the winter months, from the fact that the temperature changes dramatically, the bark of the plant becomes covered with cracks, through which infection can penetrate. With the arrival of spring days, all such "wounds" must be treated with garden pitch, tightly pulling the edges of the bark to stimulate scarring.
  9. The use of thuja in landscape design. The plant "life tree" has decorative crown outlines and is characterized by a bright color of the coniferous mass. It can be planted on lawns as a tapeworm or in group plantings. Also, with the help of both tall and dwarf species, borders and picturesque alleys can be decorated. Also planting thuja is used to form hedges.

See also tips for planting and caring for cypress trees in the garden.

How to reproduce thuja?

Thuja in the ground
Thuja in the ground

In order to grow a young "life tree" on your own on your own plot, it is recommended to use the seed or vegetative method, while the latter involves cutting or dividing the bush.

Thuja propagation using seeds

This method is suitable for breeding species specimens, since when cultivating seedlings of varietal and shaped plants, they may not lose their characteristics. If, nevertheless, a decision has been made to grow the "tree of life" from seeds, then it is worth tune in to a long process, since it will take from 3 to 5 years to get a viable seedling. Seed material is recommended to be used freshly harvested. Before sowing, it is necessary to perform stratification - to withstand the thuja seeds for a long time at temperatures of 0-5 degrees. Some gardeners put the seeds in a container under the snow, others place them on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator. The aging time of the seed should last from autumn to spring itself.

Sowing is carried out in open ground, but the place should be in diffused lighting so that direct sunlight does not burn the immature seedlings. Thuja seeds are covered by no more than 1.5 cm. From above, the crops are sprinkled with a thin cover of sawdust, preferably coniferous. To be sure that the beds will not be affected by direct UV rays, they provide shelter in the form of shields. Crop maintenance consists of keeping the soil slightly moist and gently and lightly loosening the surface so that it does not crust over.

As soon as thuja sprouts appear above the ground, you need to mulch with peat chips. Once every 14 days, it is recommended to apply top dressing - complete mineral complexes, such as Kemira-Universal, which will promote growth. When the first growing season is over, the seedlings will be about 7–8 cm in height. Before the onset of cold weather, young thujas should be covered using spruce branches, wrapping them on top with agrofibre, such as spunbond or lutrasil. As soon as the spring warmth comes, the shelter must be removed so that the thuja plants do not dry out.

Subsequent care will be the same as in the first year - regular moistening of the soil, weeding from weeds and gentle loosening, fertilization and mulching of the root zone. Only three years later from sowing, the height of the thuja seedlings will reach 0.5 m and then they will be ready for transplantation to a permanent place in the garden.

Thuja propagation using cuttings

This method can be applied to all species and varieties of plants, as it guarantees the preservation of all parental characteristics of the specimen. For blanks, it is necessary to use lignified cuttings at the beginning of summer, while their age should be 2-3 years. The length of the workpieces approximately needs to be maintained within the range of 25-40 cm. Otherwise, cuttings can be collected from semi-lignified shoots of this year, but then the branches should be only 10–20 cm long.


It is recommended not to cut thuja cuttings, but to tear them off, grabbing the "heel" - a piece of shoot tissue.

The lower part of the thuja cuttings (where the separation is) is treated with any root formation stimulator (you can take Kornevin, heteroauxin, or a solution of aloe juice and water). After processing, planting is carried out in schools (training beds), on which a disinfected substrate is poured (calcined at high temperatures in the oven or with a poured solution of potassium permanganate). The soil is made up of sod soil, peat crumbs and river sand, the volumes of which should be equal. The workpiece is deepened by 1, 5–2, 5 cm.

After planting, it is necessary for the thuja cuttings to provide greenhouse conditions with high humidity levels; for this, the seedling is wrapped in a plastic transparent film or a glass or plastic container is placed on top. When leaving, watering is required when the topsoil dries up and regular ventilation. Only when the cuttings take root, they begin to remove the shelter for a while to start hardening the plant. The time when the plants will spend without shelter is gradually lengthened until they reach around the clock, then the shelter can be removed for good.

With the arrival of late autumn, it is recommended for thuja seedlings to provide shelter from spruce branches, dry foliage or sawdust. When the heat indicators on the street become equal to 5-7 degrees, agrofibre is still thrown over the shelter to protect it from frost, which will need to be removed only in the spring.

Fight against diseases and pests when growing thuja in the garden

Thuja grows
Thuja grows

When cultivated in a garden, the "life tree" can suffer from diseases such as:

  1. Cytosporosis - a fungal disease, which is necrotic and cancerous in nature, affecting the shoots of thuja. For treatment, you should cut out all affected areas of the bark to living wood with a well-sharpened and disinfected knife and then treat the wounds with a copper solution (1-2%) and cover with garden varnish.
  2. Fusarium, also having a fungal etymology and leading to a thinning of the crown, its color becomes red or red, the branches begin to dry out. For treatment, it is recommended to inject fungicidal agents under the bark of thuja or to carry out treatment with Fundazol.
  3. Brown shute or rust, also occurs due to fungi, in which the needles turn yellow and fall off, the branches become bare. For treatment, treatments are carried out with Bordeaux liquid or the drug Kartocid.

Of the pests that damage the plantings of thuja, they emit aphids and false shield … Usually, pests are clearly visible due to the colony of small bugs (first) and brown small plaques on the coniferous mass and shoots. The one and the other suck out nutritious juices and contribute to the formation of honeydew - a product of the vital activity of insects, which has a sticky and sugary consistency. The coniferous mass of the “tree of life” acquires an unnatural yellow color and quickly flies around. To get rid of pests, it is recommended to carry out treatment with insecticidal agents, such as Rogor or Karbofos, Actellik and Decis have also proven themselves well. It is recommended to repeat the treatment two weeks later until the insects and their eggs are completely destroyed.

Interesting notes and application of thuja

Tui branches
Tui branches

The wood of the "tree of life" is distinguished by the presence of a large amount of essential oil with a yellowish tint and a pleasant aroma, as well as aromodendrin and taxifollin. Thuja oil is actively used in aromatherapy, and it is possible to obtain it by distilling the coniferous mass of thuja. The oil contains not only tannins and resins, but also many other active components (zedrol, thujone and others).

At the very dawn of the cultivation of thuja, on the territory of Europe, which fell on the beginning of the 16th century, they did not even think of it as a plant used in medicine. But the name "tree of life", this representative of the flora is obliged to the French king. The medicinal properties inherent in Thuja first began to be appreciated after the founder of homeopathy, Christian Friedrich Samuel Hahnemann (1755-1843), began to introduce thuja into a large number of preparations.

Today, such medicines as "Merifit" and "Akofit" have an extract from the needles of thuja, and in a minimum dosage (which corresponds to homeopathic rules), but even this helps to suppress the symptoms of muscle pain and osteochondrosis. Also, with the help of thuja, it is possible to cure skin diseases such as eczema and prostatitis, scrofula and various warts, sycosis and mastopathy, and can also help get rid of dropsy of the ovary and improve immunity. Thuja oil is naturally prescribed for the treatment of diseases of the ears, throat and nose. But these indications are not final, as many areas use such an active substance as the oil of the "life tree".

To date, it has not officially recognized the western one as a medicinal plant, but research on the properties of the plant in the field of pharmacology continues. For example, it was found that some of the substances that make up the "tree of life" contribute to the inhibition of cell division, and this may become the background for use in the treatment of malignant neoplasms. Doctors have found that a substance such as quinakithiol, an essential oil, successfully inhibits the development of pathogenic fungi.

With the advent of the 20th century, folk healers began to actively use the healing features of thuja. On the basis of young shoots, infusions were made and they were prescribed to patients suffering from hemoptysis and fever, were used to expel worms from the body and stop bleeding of the uterus and intestines. There were even cases when such a tincture helped to cure sexually transmitted diseases. If an ointment based on thuja was prepared, then it helped to relieve symptoms and even completely eliminate gout and psoriasis, rheumatism and varicose veins, and other diseases.


Despite the large number of positive properties, it should be remembered that all preparations based on thuja are characterized by a strong toxic effect.

This is because the substance thujone contained in the "life tree" is a nerve poison and can cause an abortion. Therefore, you should not take any thuja remedies in any trimester of pregnancy and during the period of breastfeeding. Such drugs are also prohibited for epileptics. If the substance from the thuja has a high concentration, then when it comes into contact with the skin, the agent can cause irritation and even bubbles that resemble a burn. It is worth using such products with caution, as they can cause allergies, and also block the possibility of absorption of iron and other minerals.


Treatment with drugs that include extracts of thuja oil should be carried out strictly under the supervision of the attending physician.

It is interesting that dwarf forms of the "tree of life" can be grown in premises, offices or winter gardens. Like any representative of conifers, thuja is characterized by the content of a large amount of phytoncides that act depressingly on bacteria and fungal spores. Such plants can contribute to the saturation of the environment with negatively charged air ions. The flat needles of thuja tend to accumulate a charge of static electricity, so even a small bush can, like a small "vacuum cleaner", attract dust particles and small specks.

Description of species and varieties of thuja

In the photo Thuja western
In the photo Thuja western

Thuja western (Thuja occidentalis)

is the most widespread species. The height of the crown of such a plant varies within 8–12 m. While the plant is still young, its crown is characterized by pyramidal outlines, but gradually it takes on ovoid contours. To plant greenery in parks, gardens and private plots, it is possible to use plants that have pillar or skittle outlines, as well as the shape of a cone. The most actively used varieties of western thuja with such crown outlines are:

  • Brabant has the ability to reach a height of 15–21 m. The diameter of the plant varies within the range of 3–4 m. The crown has a conical shape. The bark on the branches has a light red or grayish-brown color, capable of peeling off in stripes. The needles grow in the form of scales, characterized by a green color. Cones are measured in length 1, 2 cm, their shade is light brownish. They take an elongated ovoid shape.
  • Smaragd is a variety of western thuja, which has a squat outline. The maximum plant height is 2 m. Shoots with weak branching, form a crown of a conical contour. The branches are arranged vertically, and evergreen stems grow on them at a considerable distance from each other. The variety is highly popular with gardeners.

Among the varieties of western thuja with a spherical crown, the following are successful:

  1. Danica has a dwarf size and appeared as a result of breeding work in Denmark. The bark, which has flaking properties, is characterized by a light red or grayish brown color. The coniferous mass is soft and green, the needles grow densely and the surface shines with gloss. When autumn comes and throughout the winter, the color of the needles changes to light brown.
  2. Woodwardy is also a rabbit form of western thuja with a spherical crown. In height, the plant does not exceed 2.5 m, while the diameter of its crown is 5 m. Both branches and stems are located straight and are characterized by flatness. The color of the coniferous mass is dark emerald.
  3. Variety Filiformis is of particular interest, since it does not exceed the height of one and a half meters. The outline of its crown is broadly conical or can be rounded, formed by densely growing branches. Hanging branches have elongated parameters, they are characterized by weak branching and grow threadlike. The needles of young specimens have a pale greenish color, but with the arrival of winter, this color changes to a brown tone.
  4. Variety Erikoides thuja western in height can only reach up to a meter. Outwardly, such a plant is similar to a juniper. The crown, composed of a large number of peaks, takes on a wide conical shape with a rounded top. It is formed by a large number of thin stems with high elasticity, stems grow straight or can have a curved shape. The needles are subulate, soft to the touch. At the bottom, the coniferous mass is painted in a grayish-green color, which towards the top becomes dull yellowish-green. In winter, the color of the needles changes to brown.

To date, plant forms have been bred, in which needles can be both needle-shaped and scaly, and on the same specimen. The crown tends to grow, taking on bizarre outlines. When the thuja reaches the age of 8-10 years, the crown is divided into several peaks and after that several representatives growing side by side are obtained.

In the photo Thuja folded
In the photo Thuja folded

Thuja folded (Thuja plicata)

also found under the name Thuja giant … The native habitat in nature is in the Pacific coastal lands. This species is the highest in the mountains. The height of the plants is almost 60 m, while the trunk is 3-4 m in diameter. When grown as a garden or park crop, the figures will be much lower. The most famous form of this species is Zebrina, characterized by a variegated color of coniferous mass, where green and yellow tones are combined.

In the photo Thuja Korean
In the photo Thuja Korean

Thuja Korean (Thuja koraiensis)

characterized by a shrubby form of vegetation and wide outlines, while the crown can reach a height of 9 m. The needles have a very elegant look, since their surface is whitish almost to a silvery shade. But the frost resistance of the plant is low and with the arrival of autumn it is recommended to provide shelter.

In the photo Thuja Japanese
In the photo Thuja Japanese

Thuja Japanese (Thuja standishii)

As is clear from the specific name, the plant's homeland is in the mountainous areas of the central Japanese regions. The height is measured at 18 m. The shape of the crown is in the form of a cone. The bark on the branches is copper-red, but on the back they have a silvery color. If you rub the needles in your fingers, then you can feel the eucalyptus caramel flavor with an admixture of lemon. If grown in areas with a cold climate, then the growth rate is slow, but in warm conditions it increases.

Video about growing thuja in open field conditions:

Thuja photos:

Photo Tui 1
Photo Tui 1
Photo Tui 2
Photo Tui 2
Photo Tui 3
Photo Tui 3
Photo Tui 4
Photo Tui 4
Photo Tui 5
Photo Tui 5