Emerald Green Arborvitae

Last updated : 21 November 2014

Emerald Green Arborvitae-Thuga occidentalis ‘Smaragd’


Hardy in zones 3 through 8.

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All pyramidal Arborvitae are not created equal!  Some look similar but they grow and perform over time very differently.  There are two upright, pyramidal Arborvitae that I really like because the look great, and over time they perform exactly as you expect them to.  They are very different and should be used in different situations.  One is Techney arborvitae, also known as Mission Arborvitae  and I’ll post some info and photos on Techney in a few days.

Emerald Green Arbovitae

Emerald Green Arborvitae

The other is Emerald Green Arborvitae, also known as ‘Smaragd’ and that’s the one I am featuring on this page.

Emerald Green Arborvitae is an excellent plant, a great choice when looking for a narrow, upright evergreen that doesn’t get too tall.  This evergreen has an interesting color.  Instead of the really dark green color that many arborvitae have, this plant is a lighter green with what appears to be a bit of a gold tinge to the foliage.

Emerald Green Arbovitae

Emerald Green Arborvitae

Many upright arborvitae grow so fast that they grow so tall, that before long they are hooping over and growing away from the house.  During the winter months when the snow clings it will pull them almost to the ground.  If they are grown with multiple leaders as many are, they open up, spread apart and look absolutely terrible.

Make money selling Emerald Green Arborvitae Rooted cuttings.  See the bottom of this page.

I’ve never seen Emerald Green do that.  It just doesn’t get tall enough for that to happen.  Look at the Emerald Green Arborvitae in these photos.  As close as I can tell these plants are over 15 years old.  Yet they are only about 10′ tall.  That’s what makes Emerald Green unique to so many other upright arborvitae.

Emerald Green Arbovitae

Emerald Green Arborvitae

Emerald Green Arborvitae are narrow, and the closer to the top the narrower they get.  Planted in a single row you would have to plant them about 24″ on center to get a nice, full hedge, and even then because they are quite narrow at the top, it still is not likely to be a complete screen that can’t be seen through.

In these photos the Emerald Green Arborvitae are actually planted in a double row and staggered.  They appear to be planted about 30″ to 36″ apart, then the back row has the same spacing but is staggered to fill in the gaps.  This makes for a very tight screen that you cannot see through.

In this situation had the homeowner used another faster growing arborvitae this planting would be a mess by now.  The plants would be all opened up and the tops would be leaning over.  During the winter months the situation would be worse.

For about 20 years I spent a great deal of time re-landscaping homes.  During that time I re-landscaped over 500 homes.  I can’t even begin to tell you how many times we ripped out really tall arborvitae that were completely concealing the front of the house, leaning over and just plain looking bad.  In almost every case inside of the plants we found fence posts and wire holding the plants together and the stakes attempting to hold the plants upright.  That’s why I am very picky about which arborvitae that I will use in or recommend for a landscape.

These things sell like crazy and there are people in your home town that would love to buy these as small plants.

Here’s the problem.  A nice 36″ Emerald Green Arborvitae will easily sell for $20.00 or more.  A lot more depending on where you live.  Ten plants?  That’s $200 or more.  Some people can afford that, many cannot.  That’s why we need more people like you growing and selling small plants to people in your local area.  They would love you for that.

No selling involved.  When you grow and sell small plants from home, you don’t have to do any selling.  As soon as people find out that you are growing small plants they immediately want to see what you have for sale.  It’s very common for people to drive 50 miles or more to buy from our Backyard Growers!

Emerald Green Arborvitae is easy to propagate and easy to grow.  You can root cuttings and sell them as soon as they are rooted!  This is a great plant to grow at home and sell at a small size.  They really do sell like crazy, as do most other plants.

Join us today!  Get all the details here.


  1. Joe says


    Thanks for the info – great tips. I have 2 questions. Will this method of rooting be similar for all evergreens? and I’ve tried rooting evergreens before and they all fail but I have always used soil. I’ll try sand instead – do I need special sand or would gritty builders sand work ok?

    From Scotland

    • says

      Joe, the gritty builders mix should fine. Most evergreens can be rooted this way. Conifers like spruce, pine and fir are usually grown from seed and don’t do well from cuttings. The blue, blue spruce are grafted onto a blue spruce seedling.

    • Susan Sendelbach says

      My house is at the top of a slope. I want a tall thin evergreen row of trees to block the view of the neighbors property, however I think this Evergreen Arbrovitae is not tall enough. I was hoping for 15-18 ft. tall and not too wide as our yard is not very deep. I found a description of a blue juniper. We are in Zone 7, Georgia. Would this be a good choice? Will it fall over like some of the problem trees that you describe? Any other thoughts?

  2. Pat says

    Where can I find a map of the different growing zones I live on Maui at an elevation of 3,000 feet in KULA. We still get hot sun all day long and are experiencing drought conditions on most of the islands. Aloha

  3. Jim Fisher says

    Great article Mike, I’ve been wondering about doing some of this with evergreens in Missouri, without spending a lot of money. I’m inspired!

  4. Alma says

    When is the best time to plant American arborvitae? They are 12″ tall and I want to be sure I order them at the right time.
    Zone 5.

    • says

      Alma, I like planting in the fall and early winter, but then again I plant year round. You can’t dig year round, but you can plant year round.

  5. Doug Jeffries says

    I love your videos. I tried doing this and found out from your video that I was doing it wrong. Now that I have watched your video, I will try it again and I am sure that I will be successful this time.

  6. David Green says

    another great how to root cuttings! I got my box made like yours, will let you know how well I do. again thanks David from the south

  7. Bill Moulton says

    Mike when you pot up these rooted cuttings where do you get your soil from? Bailed mix? Do you mix you own? or do you incorporaye field soil? This could be your most exspensive ingrediant.

    • says

      Bill, definitely not field soil. Most growers use a potting soil mix that actually contains no soil. Cost? I just did the math a few days ago and I can pot up a small plant that will easily sell for $4.97 and my total cost for the cutting, the plastic container and the soil comes to about 36 cents. That’s for a container which is slightly smaller than a #1 nursery container. Profit margin is really quite high. Potting soil receipe here: http://freeplants.com/ingredients-for-potting-soil.htm

  8. BJ says

    It’s always fun to watch your videos on plant progagation. Thanks. Also, looks like you have lost some weight, and for that you should be commended. GOOD for you! More energy should be in store for you. Been there, done that!!

    • says

      Bj, thank you. I have lost weight, about 64 pounds and I feel great! Over years a lot of my subscriber friends have written to me about my weight and my health and I finally did something about it. Now . . . to just keep the weight off.

  9. josh says


    i live in georgia near atl and i was wondering if its too hot for those plants. if it isnt than where do i get them because i already have the backyard growing system.


    • Anonymous says

      I live in Pensacola, FL and have some in my yard. I got them from one of the home improvement stores in my area a couple years ago. They are indeed slow growers, they were about a foot tall when I bought them, and two years later they MIGHT have reached 2 feet tall. They are pretty though, can’t wait until they grow up tall!

  10. Kevin says


    Thanks for the reply about a good choice for a thin screen for my 1200′ driveway. I will be looking to your system soon as I will need to start as small plants since I will need hundreds of them.
    Thanks again for your time,

    • says

      James, there are all kinds of deer repelents on the market and many homemade recipes. This something that I want to address in my newsletter soon. Thanks for the reminder.

  11. Lois says

    Hi Mike..Love your site, always use it to help me determine what I am doing right or wrong…I have lots of emerald green arborvitae we have a new home and we are using them to define our borders here…..The ones in the back by the pool are doing well, but I have 10 on the side of the house all in a row and the two outside ones are doing great, the inside ones are all turning color on me…kind of yellowish orange now, can I save them, and what is going on?????……..They were gorgeous 2 weeks ago……HElp..Lois

  12. Lisa Burleson says

    I do have a question for you. I planted 4 arbor trees this spring and were doing great but 2 of them have been looking brown and dried out. I have been watering them everyday like I do all my plants in the yard. but my poor tree bushes are looking so dry. Do you think they will pull out of it and green up again or are they already done for??? in otherwords dying? trying to figure out how I can save them? any info would be great !

      • Fred Robinson says

        As a Consulting Arborist I see this problem all the time. Watering too frequently in poorly draining soil (like clay) kills the roots, just like overwatering a house plant. The symptom for excess water is the same as insufficient water: yellowing, then browning of foliage followed by death of the cambium tissue in the twigs, branches, and the trunk. The roots need water that contains oxygen. stagnant water lacks oxygen. When you first see the early symptoms; check the root soil moister; then take action to correct the problem. It is usually easier to raise the root ball than to drain the planting hole unless you planted on a slope.

  13. Berniece says

    White Pines:
    How fast do they grow?
    How far apart planted to make hedge?
    Width/Height at full grown?
    Deer/disease resistant?
    Zone 8

    • says

      White pine can get quite tall, but I’d do a google search for exact heights. For an evergreen they grow pretty fast. For a hedge at least 10′ apart. Not sure about zone 8 or deer. I’m going to research this plant more.

  14. Rosemary Peacock says

    Mike, I so enjoy your posts and your short videos. I believe I have one of these arbovitaes at the corner of my house. It has gown into the corner of my roof. How can I prune this or what do I do with it because it is ruining the top of it. I live in metro Atlanta, the tree gets morning sun and afternoon shade. Thanks Rosemary

    • says

      Rosemary, it’s obviously too close to the house. Not trimming Emerald Green Arborvitae is always best, but if you have to, cut the top down and shape the tree pyramidal.

  15. Gail Gambrell says

    I know that summer flowers are soon to end but
    I have a issue with my petunia flower garden. I noticed that the flowers are being eaten by green worms; their kind of fat looking.
    What remedy is there that is natural and inexpensive. My petunia flower garden is lovely…..Help! Thank you….Gail

    • Judy says

      Here they are the cabbage worms that get to the petunias. Watch for the small white butterflies that lay the eggs. Watch closely for droppings and you will find the worm on the flower above, they seem to get to the heart of the flower for me. I found dusting lightly with ashes works. My grandmother did that with her cabbages to keep the worms away.

    • Charline Jolly says

      Gail, my petunias were eaten by the same fat green worms. They are called “Tobacco Bud Worms” You can kill them with a product called BT, or bacillus thuringensis. It’s a live bacillus that works on all caterpillars including Tomato Horn Worm. The down side is that it kills butterfly caterpillars too, and is probably why the Monarch butterfly is dying out, Be careful and just spray it on your petunias and not anywhere else.
      The moth that lays the eggs is a small greyish/tan one.

  16. Jack says

    Enjoy your wisdom…
    Living in N.E. Ohio, when is best time to prune white pine trees?
    I have pruned half of the new growth early June and it seems to shock the tree to much and on occasion has killed some 10+yr old trees.

  17. karla says

    I’m in zone south Mississippi and have a beautiful tree that is shaped just like the emerald green arborvitae, but it has more needle like,yet soft “greenery.” I found it on our property when it was about 8″ tall. It is now about 12′ tall and I decorate it with lights at Christmas. I think it is a cedar of some type. I will grow these if I can, as I love the shape and size for a privacy and noise barrier.

  18. Kim says

    I have 5 of these for a hedge but the dogs sneak a leak on the end one. What do you suggest that I can plant in front of them?

    • Martha Vinson says

      If you want the dogs to stop—go and buy bulk black pepper and sprinkle the foliage as far as they can sniff—–it amounts to aversive training as they always sniff before “baptizing” the plant—it will make them sneeze and decide those are very unfriendly places to mark. You will have to be conscientious about keeping the pepper on for awhile especially if they have been using that spot for sometime …it doesn’t take a whole lot of pepper at one time, it does work , and it doesn’t hurt the dogs or anything else .Good luck.

  19. Magigal says

    The first e-mails I read after coming out of a month-long coma from meningitis caused by by bacteria growth in a very big 3rd. degree burn on my thigh , was to read ALL of your posts and I thank you sincerly, Mike, for all of the very interesting summaries you gave about different plants/shrubs/trees and the photos add a LOT of visual information .
    Thankyou for being so faithful to your readers.

  20. Sharon says

    I already have 6 I’ve grown from 2’ft. Now they are 20 ft tall. They have done well but I would like to know how much water to give them & BAG WORMS!!! How do you get rid of them!?? They are devistating/killing the trees one by one!! HELP!!!

    • says

      Sharon, if yours are 20′ tall they should only need water when really dry. But then it’s imporant to water them really good at least once a week. You’d sure hate to lose them. The bag worms you’ll have to use an insecticide that is rated for bag worms.

  21. Jim says

    Deer love these and can make them look like ice cream cones. Green Giant & Spring Grove Arborvatie are a variety with a western cedar cross in it. It smells like cedar when you brush up against them. The deer won’t touch them plus they handle snow & wind without spliting.They have a single terminal trunk.

  22. Jeff K. says

    Mike- Not very “Mike-like”… you failed to post a hardiness zone for these plants? Keep up the great info please! Also, only (2) Back-Yard Growers in Illinois…neither is convienient/close by… :[

  23. Tonya Hutchinson says

    Mike, you have really struck a soft spot in my heart showing these because I absolutely love evergreens and pine cones!! The place before the last place we lived at, there were these huge pine trees in the back yard that bore large as well as small cones! I loved them! I made wreaths, and bagged & saved the cones. I also used the pine straw as mulch! Those cones have more uses than what people imagine. You can make ornaments out them as well as jewelry, flowers,potpourri,etc. I want a couple of these trees!!

  24. june says

    Hmmmm…looks like Deer Candy to me…don’t they like that? Not a good thing to grow in my area if it is.
    But I’m not sure.

    I was surprised, though, that you say they root easily.
    I didn’t think evergreens were good that way.
    Thanks for the info!

    • says

      June, deer will eat them during the winter months when extremely hungry. But deer will eat most anything when all of their favorite plants are snow covered.

  25. George Harris says

    Mike, will they thrive in central Florida? I could sure use a bunch of ’em as a noise barrier behind my property to stifle traffic din. [Harley’s are in vogue here in Clermont]! Can I get them locally from, say, Home Depot or Lowe’s?

  26. Lorna Lang says

    My mother gre aborvitae and I learned to love them. Hers though grew to be very tall and she created this incredibla privacy wall of them all around her house and garden. They always looked beautiful.
    i have a question for you…we have built a burm along the roadside of the property about 8ft tall and we are looking for plats that would be suitable to grow on either side and along the top of it. Such plarigs as fruit bearinf things as blackberries and florals such as sunflowers and blacj=keyed susans etc…really we have nit much idea
    what would be ost practical and wise…could you assist us with some good advice.Looking forward to hearing from you.

  27. jean foster says

    what are the dimensions of these tree at maturity? are they disease resistant? are they heat tolerant?

    • says

      Jean, they are good up to zone 8, and down to zone 3. As disease resistant as anything I’ve seen. 10 to 12 tall seems to be where they top out.

  28. Barbara Thompson says

    Mike, You continue to thrill this old 73 (almost) WV lady with your beautiful evergreens. I love the Arborvitaes and the Hemlocks. Don’t know which I love the most. Would love to have my fairly large yard planted with nothing but these beauties. You are the best. Keep growing.

  29. Dick Carmen says

    Is the Emerald Gree Arborvitae?
    …Suseptable to animal urine;
    …Suseptable to deer damage;
    …Suseptable to strong westerly winds;
    …A fast or slow growing tree.

    • says

      Dick, nothing that I know of is going to be happy with animal urine. Deer will eat them during the winter. Growing rate I’d consider medium. Keep in mind, fast growing means low quality plant in my book, and I’ve yet to see a fast growing plant that was high quality. For an upright evergreen they should tolerate wind pretty well since they are slim enough to not catch a lot of wind.

  30. Matt Horns says

    When these tree die or get dried out, they explode in flames if they are exposed to fire. I suggest not putting them near any flammable structures.

  31. Lynne says

    Gorgeous plant but too tall for my garden.
    I’m looking to replace my 20-year-old Japanese holly bushes with something EVERGREEN that doesn’t require high-maintenance pruning twice a year. The zone 7 area gets intense morning sun until noon, is flat with clay soil and is in front of my long concrete porch. I would prefer something that I can easily keep to a height of 3 1/2 feet or less. What are my options?

    • Norm says

      Yes, deer love them! If you have ever seen a row of arborvitae that have an “hour glass” shape from one side, you can rest assured the deer are nibbling away at them.

  32. Mike says

    These are great plants, but in Memphis we have a bag worm problem and occasionally twig blight. A good insecticide cures worm problem and a broad spectrum fungicide will handle the blight.

  33. says

    I had made an arrangement using Arborvitae and other pine in a container with Oasis to hold water and to my surprise about a month later I discovered that the arborvitae had began to root (in the oasis). I let it go for a while and then broke away most of the oasis and potted the cuttings. Now they are at least 7 ft. tall and this spring have been covered with scores of small cones. I estimate these are now 7 yrs old from time of cuttings to tree-sized.It was a treat to watch them become beautiful trees.

  34. Linda says

    I planted one of these a few months ago and with all the drought we’ve had in Oklahoma it has all but turned brown. Is there any hope of it coming out of this? Not sure if I’ve watered it enough, too much? Thanks.

    • Mech says

      Hi, i grow the arborvortae blue cones here in central texas, and as you know we have had 102f temps from june-end of august+. I use a drip irrigation line with a cheap orbit water timer to take care of them. I planted them feb. of 2013 and they are thriving! I planted them at the right depth in the semi clay/sand soil.

  35. Rene says

    Hi Mike!

    These trees are very beautiful. I am looking to use evergreens to border my home and wanted to know which type grows quickly and is a good choice in Zone 5b-6? It would need to have some drought tolerance, as well.


    • says

      Rene, when you ask for a fast growing plant you are really making a trade off. In my experience the faster the growing the plant the lower the quality, especially long term. These are medium growers, and good over the long term. Perfect in your zone.

  36. kathie VanDevere says

    Mike do you know of an evergreen hedge that could be used fairly close to the road and not die from winter salt spray??

    • Sue says

      Your answer is Mugho Pine.
      Ours were on a busy street, taking all the vehcle emissions, and snow clearing piles on top of them full of salt, and they thrived.

  37. Sherrill Rogge says

    I have planted 8 of these in the spring. 4 of them have died. I watered them very well due to the heat this year. They are beautiful and want to replace them. I live in zone 4. What can I do this time?

    • says

      Sherrill, newly installed plants almost always die because they did not get enough water, were actually over watered to the point that the roots are sitting in soggy soil, and they might have been planted too deep. The very top of the root ball should be one inch above the existing grade. In clay soil they should be planted higher and soil mounded up over the root ball then mulch.

      Plants seldom die because there is something wrong with the plant. It’s almost always how they were planted or cared for. I’ve lost lots of plants over the years. Always my fault.

      • JR says

        I planted 2 at the same time, very near each other. But one dried out and was closer to the house than the other. Mike told be the same thing so after 2 tries I paid attention and watered uniformly for a few months and not as deep as the first 2. Guess what, he’s right. Thriving like the other now :)

  38. Jeannine says

    why don’t you mention in what zones they grow?
    I live in S.Florida, would love to grow some and be a part of your network?
    Warm regards, Jeannine

  39. terri says

    would be interested in starting some of these they are beautiful are these the ones witht the soft not sticking branches??

  40. diann says

    Mike—I love all the articles you write, but am most interested in this one about evergreens. I am originally from up north so am not sure which ones will do well in the south. I live in N.C. and if you want hot, this is it. I planted 2 Cryptomerias and they both look ragged. Mostly brown and not good at all. They get the sun, but as you know it is mostlt hot and dry here. Please tell me which ones will do well here. Thanks!

    • says

      Diann, in North Carolina you should have great plant choices there. Most all things that grow in the north will do well in North Carolina plus you have more selections as far as winter hardy. It has been pretty darn hot in Ohio this summer. Many days and evenings at 95 or warmer. That’s pretty hot for the north.

    • Althea Walker says

      Hello Mike I love getting your great info. it has really helped me out in the garden. I have a question I planted some beautiful red impatients (Annuals) this summer and wanted to know if I could overwinter them by digging them up and plant them in plastic nursery containers and putting them in a whole in the ground and cover with straw

      • says

        Althea, that probably won’t work, I’m guessing they’d still freeze even covered with straw. Of course that depends where you live. Around here, zone 5 Ohio, they’d freeze for sure.

      • Sandra says

        I always bring my favorite Impatiens in the house for winter (coleus too). They do fine in pots, but even ones that have been grown in the garden can be brought in as cuttings in water. They root in water and will sit there waiting happily all winter for you to plant them back out in the spring. Make sure you bring them in before they start deteriorating, or it will be too late.
        I already have a favorite Sunpatiens happily blooming the the house, awaiting spring.

    • Eva Woods says

      Here it is Oct. 28th in Ohio (Chillicothe). Is it too late to put mums in the ground and have them come up next year? Or should I try to winter them over and wait until spring to plant them? How should I winter them over if that is the answer. Eva

    • Joy Rouse says

      Mike I have two Arborvitae’s at my front door, but they have got to large. They are about 10 foot tall and 4 foot wide. I trim them every year, but over time they have grown larger. My question is came they be cut back to about 6 foot by 2 or 2 1/2 foot. they are one on each of the steps in front of the porch. They block the view.

      • says

        Joyce, cutting down a tall arborvitae down to 6 feet can probably be done without much of a problem. They won’t look good for quite some time, but they should recover. But reduce the diameter by 50% won’t be so easy because all of the vibrant growth is outside of that circle. So that really leaves you two options. Try and prune them first. If they don’t recover, pull them out. But don’t prune them unless you are willing to lose them.

    • Midge Hernandez says

      Hi Mike! I am fearful of the invasion of Japanese Longhorn Beetles. They are in a large city an hour from us. I love arbovitae & want to protect my trees. How do I prepare for this? Thank you.

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