Thuja - Thuja occidentalis

La thuja

Genus consisting of a dozen evergreen conifers, originating in Asia, Europe and North America. It is a fairly fast-growing tree and can reach 10-15 meters in height; the erect stem carries a pyramidal or elongated crown, in the shape of a flame; the bark is brown-orange in color, in some years it tends to break into flakes that leave deep wrinkles on the surface. The leaves are small, very dense, shaped like scales, very similar to those of the cypress; they are intense dark green, in some species they become yellowish in winter. The plant produces small roundish pine cones, divided into flat sectors, in the center of each of which there is a pointed protuberance; they are black-blue, or light green, slightly pruinose, before breaking to release the small seeds they become brown. These conifers are widely used in gardens, both as single specimens, and to form impenetrable hedges. Numerous cultivars exist, even with dwarf growth.


Place in a sunny place; these trees can easily bear the shadow even if they develop better if they can enjoy at least 3-4 hours of direct sunlight a day. The tuie they are not very suitable in cities near the sea, as they cannot stand the salty air. They do not fear the cold. The young specimens need to be watered regularly, while the adult trees are generally satisfied with the rains, being able to easily withstand even long periods of drought.
There thuja occidentalis it is considered a rather resistant variety, even during the winter season. In fact, in winter it can even tolerate the most difficult temperatures, such as those between -20 ° and -15 degrees.


There thuja It is a genus of conifers belonging to the Cupressaceae family. They come exclusively from the North American continent and from Asia.
In places of origin they are widespread in the spontaneous state, but they have become very popular in the gardens because they are suitable for the creation of hedges, mainly because of their bearing. They grow very high, remaining compact at the base. They can also be used as a focal point in a mixed border or as an isolated specimen.

Description Thuja

The genus is basically composed of 5 species of which 4 are widespread in gardens (the most common, however, is the occidentalis).
Thuja occidentalis also called thuja American (or white cedar). It is a tree that can reach 20 m in height, taking on a narrow cone shape. The leaves, persistent, are scaly, small, shiny, yellowish-green on the upper side, pale green in the lower one. They are grouped in flattened and aromatic tufts on flat-shaped branches.
The bark is orange-brown and flakes in vertical stripes, the male flowers are red while the female ones are yellow-brown; they appear in separate clusters at the apex of the shoots, on the same plant in spring. The fruits are oblong cone, 1 cm long, first green gray and then brown when ripe.
It is native to North America and in particular to the Rocky Mountains, in areas characterized by calcareous soils.
It was one of the first American trees to be imported into Europe. He immediately liked to the point that the search for new cultivars began (generally with foliage colored differently or characterized by reduced dimensions for use in small spaces).

Some of the most widespread areA very popular Nigra, with dark foliage that stays very well throughout the winterEmerald green with smaller leaves and slow growth, suitable for small green areasHolmstrup rather compactWoodwardii over time takes on a rounded shapeLittle Giant also rounded, but very dwarfRounded and contained Golden Globe. Very special for its golden foliage.Aurea nana reaches a maximum of 2 meters, golden leaves that become bronze in winterTiny Tin roundish, maximum 1 meter high, dark green, then brownish in winterVery decorative smaragd due to its strongly conical shape and bright green foliageRheingold first spherical, then conical, up to 3 meters. Particular foliage: golden yellow with shades of pink when young, then from bright yellow to orange.Danica up to 1.5 meters, green foliage in the vegetative period, brown in winter.Thuja koraiensis (Korean)

It is native to north-eastern China and Korea, in the mountainous woodland area. Generally it reaches a height of 10 meters, taking on a narrow cone shape. Even in nature, however, it is possible to find specimens with bushy habit and small size.
It has small scaly leaves, bright green on the upper side, with bright silvery spots on the lower one, carried in flat tufts. When they are squeezed they give off a strongly aromatic scent. The bark is red brown and flakes in thin scales. The male flowers are green, with black apices, while the female ones are only green. They are collected in separate clusters at the apex of the twigs, on the same plant, in spring. The fruits have the shape of an oblong and straight cone, initially yellow-green in color and subsequently brown. I am composed of 8 scales.
For the gardens some cultivars have been selected characterized in particular by silvery or glaucous foliage, reduced dimensions or creeping growth habit.

Thuja plicata (giant tuja)

Originally also from the North-West of the American continent, in a mountainous habitat.
It can reach 50 meters in height with a narrow cone shape. The leaves are scaly, small, opaque, green on the upper side, with white spots on the lower one. The twigs appear flattened and very aromatic if rubbed. The bark is medium brown with purple hues and splits vertically. The male flowers are red and black, the female green and yellow ones, always in separate clusters at the apex of the branches. The fruits are ovoid-shaped, firstly greenish, then brown.
There are numerous cultivars:
atrovirens grows fast with conical shape with bright green leaves
zebrina with yellow and green striped leaves
golden golden foliage and medium size
dwarf varieties and other foliage colors are also available.

Thuja standishii (Japanese tuja)

The Thuja standishii or tuja Japanese, is native to Japan, in particular of the ridges of the rocky mountains. It can reach 20 meters in height and takes on an expanded cone shape. The leaves are scaly with a blunt apex, yellow-green on the upper side, pale with whitish speckles in the lower one, on flattened, pendulous and very aromatic twigs.
The bark is red-brown and flakes in plates or strips. The male flowers are black and red, the female greenish, at the apex of the branches. The fruits are oblong cones of about 1 cm, brown red with 10 scales. The foliage, when rubbed, gives off an aromatic and sweet scent.
There are available golden leaf cultivars and some with small dimensions.
Numerous interspecific hybrids have also been created.

Cultivation Thuja

The cultivation of tuie is quite simple and are rather resistant plants. Precisely for this reason they are used more and more for the creation of hedges and screens.
What is the best location?
These conifers grow ideally when placed in full sun, but can also tolerate the partial shade well. If the light is not abundant it is good to choose a cultivar of plicata, since it tolerates this type of exposure better.
What should the ground be like?
All varieties prefer a rich, fertile, possibly acid soil. It is imperative, however, that there is good drainage.
How do they stay home?
Potted plants can be planted at any time of year, but it is better to prefer autumn or early spring. The latter will be the ideal choice if we live in an area characterized by high humidity during the months of October and November.
The distance between one plant and another varies greatly depending on the chosen cultivar. Generally, to create a hedge the subjects can be placed at about 1 meter from each other. Keep in mind that the closer they are, the sooner the hedge will be thick. However, it will later become more difficult to keep the interior well ventilated.
A hole will therefore be dug at least as deep as the vase and two or three times wide. If the collected soil is very poor, it will be good to mix it with organic soil improver before reinserting it.
If, on the other hand, the substrate is compact and clayey, a drainage layer must be created on the bottom of the hole with appropriate material.
At this point we will extract the plant from the pot (or we will remove the jute around the earthen bread) and we will insert it in the hole closing then with the compote kept aside. We compact and irrigate carefully. For the first time it may be a good idea to create a depression so that the water is not washed away.

Thuja cultivation

Plants must be irrigated for at least the first six months and during the growing season.
When the plant is stamped, we will intervene only if the soil is too dry. Excessive administrations should be avoided as they can be the basis of the development of root rot, whose sole remedy is the eradication of the plant.
Training or maintenance cuts should be made from spring to early summer.
The fertilizations are not always necessary. However, it may be a good habit to spread some handful of slow release granular fertilizer, possibly balanced, at the end of winter. In this way we will guarantee the plant its fundamental nourishment and a more balanced and healthy growth.

Pruning thuja

The pruning of the tuja occidentalis must take place in the month of March where it is good to begin to intervene to eliminate the dead or damaged wood. We cut to the maximum until it is still green inside (otherwise it would no longer be able to reject).
To set it up it is good for the first few years to proceed with frequent smoothing to encourage the thickening of individuals (especially if you want to create a hedge). You can proceed from spring to mid-summer.
To create a well-defined shape you can help by placing various poles and connecting them with cables, so as to create a guide. If you are not a real gardening expert, better let the experts or professionals do the work in order to get an optimal result.

Thuja: Curiosity Thuja

In English, the tuie are called arborvitae, that is tree of life, because their leaves contain an abundant dose of vitamin C. If properly treated, they can be infused to make a very aromatic and healthy tea. It was in fact administered by native Americans to the first French scurvy scouts.
This plant is also particularly suitable as a homeopathic remedy for various problems. Particularly in the treatment of skin diseases such as moles, blackheads, comedones, sties. In this case the mother tincture of the plant prepared cdon is used the tuja needles and alcohol. It is also suitable for stress, tension and insomnia; in the treatment of warts and swelling of the palate; for colds, bronchitis, intimate problems like vaginal secretions and much more.
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Family and gender
Cupressaceae, gen Thuja, 5 species
Type of plant Tree, conifer with persistent foliage, up to 50 m
Exposure Full sun, half shade
Rustic Very rustic, suitable for all of Italy
Ground Rich, well-drained, sub-acid or acid
colors White flowers (or pink in ornamental varieties)
Irrigation Only in the first period
Composting In spring, with a balanced granular product
colors Leaves green, silvery, glaucous, golden or brown
uses Hedge, barrier, vase, topiary, isolated specimen