Bionic Conifer

By Charlie Nardozzi

Arborvitae (Thuja) is often used to separate properties or block unsightly views. But getting plants big enough to form a hedge takes time or a willingness to pay a premium for full-size plants. Now researchers have found perhaps the perfect evergreen hedging plant, 'Green Giant' arborvitae. This fast-growing variety is a cross between Japanese cedar (T. standishii) and western red cedar (T. plicata).

With a conical shape and dense green foliage that holds its color well in winter, 'Green Giant' closely resembles western red cedar. However, it grows an amazing 3 to 5 feet a year, especially in warm climates (zones 7 through 9), allowing gardeners to buy and plant small plants and achieve a tall hedge in less time. It eventually can grow to 30 to 50 feet tall if not pruned. 'Green Giant' prefers full sun but will grow in part shade. It requires minimal maintenance, tolerates poor soil, has no major pest problems, is probably hardy to zone 5 (this is still being tested), and is low on deer's most desired list.

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