Content Detail

Oriental arborvitae is similar in appearance to other species of arborvitae. Winter protection may be needed for this plant. Because it is typically short in stature, oriental arborvitae may be planted under utility lines. Nurseries usually sell the cultivars of this plant rather than the actual species and those cultivars can vary greatly in appearance. Also known as Thuja orientalis.

  • Family (English) Cypress
  • Family (botanic) Cupressaceae
  • Planting site Residential and parks, Under utility lines
  • Tree or plant type Tree
  • Foliage Evergreen (foliage year-round)
  • Native locale Non-native
  • Size range Small shrub (3-5 feet), Medium shrub (5-8 feet), Large shrub (more than 8 feet), Compact tree (10-15 feet), Small tree (15-25 feet)
  • Mature height 18-25 feet
  • Mature width 10-15 feet
  • Light exposure Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)
  • Hardiness zones Zone 6 (City of Chicago), Zone 7, Zone 8, Zone 9, Zone 10, Zone 11
  • Soil preference Moist, well-drained soil
  • Tolerances Alkaline soil, Dry sites
  • Season of interest early winter, midwinter, late winter, early spring, mid spring, late spring, early summer, midsummer, late summer, early fall, mid fall, late fall
  • Flower color and fragrance Inconspicuous
  • Shape or form Pyramidal, Round, Upright
  • Growth rate Slow
  • Transplants well Yes
  • Wildlife Browsers, Nesting birds, Small mammals
  • Has cultivars Yes

Size and form:

Oriental arborvitae’s mature height is 18 to 25 feet and 10 to 15 feet in width.

Native geographic location and habitat:

It is native to Asia.

Attracts birds, pollinators, or wildlife:

Nesting birds, browsers, and small mammals are attracted to it.

Bark color and texture:

The bark is grayish-brown to reddish-brown, with stringy fibers and a network of ridges and shallow furrows.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, texture, and color:

Its needles are soft and green, with spreading flat sprays of overlapping scales at the ends of short, ascending branches.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size:

Inconspicuous separate male and female flowers.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions:

Tiny oval seed cones mature from yellow to light brown and look like little roses when cones open.

Plant care:

Oriental arborvitae’s best growth occurs in full sun to part shade and prefers consistent moisture, but not wet soil. Keep mulched to moderate soil temperature swings. The foliage tends to discolor in winter. 

List of pests, diseases and tolerances:

It can be affected by bagworm, leaf miner, and spider mites. Susceptible to strong wind, snow, and ice damage. It is tolerant of black walnut toxicity and less susceptible to deer browsing.


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