The Eastern arborvitae, American arborvitae or white cedar, Thuja occidentalis, is native throughout the northern half of eastern North America, especially in moist soil areas. This plant has long been established in American gardens, and according to some, over-used by building contractors. Arborvitae propagate readily from cuttings, are relatively easy to produce in a short period of time and are generally inexpensive. Thus, they are a building contractor's favorite.
At maturity arborvitae are usually dense, pyramidal, 40 to 50 foot trees, but cultivars range from dwarf to rounded or globe shapes with foliage colors of yellow, bluish and various shades of green. Arborvitae are small evergreen trees and shrubs with needle-like juvenile leaves and scale-like mature foliage and branchlets flattened in one plane. Branches are erect and spreading with thin, scaly bark.
Arborvitae have long been used in European and American landscapes as foundation, hedge, screen or accent plants. More recently, interest has been given to greater use in a way that will not detract from the overall color scheme. Use the recommended cultivars for best summer and winter color.