Oriental arborvitae -a second glance

June 13, 2009

Growing up in NJ in the 50’s, Oriental arborvitaes seemed to be planted almost everywhere. Many years later, I realized that you didn’t see them much anymore. Perhaps they just grew out of favor or the horticultural pallet was more interested in trying newer plants.  Recently, I’ve been growing several cultivars of these old fashioned plants that I feel offer great promise for those who garden in the Southeast. My favorite of the group is Thuja orientalis ‘columnaris aurea’. The artficial looking, bright limey green  foliage grows in tidy upright sprays and has a moderate rate of growth. I could see a pair of these marking the entrance to a garden path, or used in some creative fashion as part of a modern landscape or part of a mid-century foundation planting. Similiar is Thuja orientalis ‘Weedom’. This cultivar has the same bright color, but a habit that is columnar, but not as tight as the previous one. The final suggestion, is one with the easy to remember name– ‘Franky Boy’. ‘Franky Boy’ is an upright yellow thread leaf. I warn you that it is quite slow and will probably disappoint for several years, however if well grown, it is outstanding. It benefits from pruning the ‘strings’ each year in mid spring, to encourage more density of growth. I had two 5 year olds in 7 gal pots that sold this Spring.They were quite showy. What is nice from a nurseryman’s perspective, is that none of these plants are patented, and all root fairly easily in the winter, under mist with bottom heat. I think all three are worthy of another consideration for your garden.

Thuja orientalis 'Columnaris aurea'

Thuja orientalis 'Columnaris aurea'

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