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Thujen are also commonly known as trees of life. They originally come from North America and eastern Asia and belong to the cypress family. In this country, different types and varieties are cultivated. The specialist trade mainly offers the "occidental tree of life" (Thuja occidentalis) and the "giant tree of life" (Thuja plicata). Due to its rapid growth, the Thuja is particularly well suited and popular for hedge planting. An opaque, evergreen privacy screen is created in the garden in no time at all.

Thuja hedge growth

The thuja is very popular as a hedge plant due to its rapid growth. In a short time, a dense privacy screen is created in the form of a living fence. It not only protects privacy from prying eyes, but also offers birds a place to nest. The evergreen, pine-like wood also has other advantages to offer, such as:

  • robust growth even in unfavorable locations
  • quite undemanding, thrives wherever there is sufficient moisture
  • good opaque branching due to scaly leaves
  • frost hardy and wind resistant
  • good cutting tolerance
  • very keen to grow
  • reach considerable heights, freely growing up to 20 meters
  • annual growth depending on the variety between 20 and 45 centimeters
  • not very maintenance intensive
  • inexpensive

notice: This woody plant is a poisonous plant. Even touching it can cause skin irritation. Small children and pets are particularly at risk if they swallow plant parts.

hedge height

Usually the "Thuja occidentalis" is mainly used for hedges. The fast-growing variety "Brabant" with its wide and bushy growth is very popular here. In a favorable location, such a hedge can reach a height of at least three meters and more. This offers excellent privacy and noise protection.

The height of a thuja hedge can of course also be individually designed through maintenance measures, i.e. regular annual pruning. This stimulates a healthy development of the plants again and again. Depending on your needs, it can be done twice a year

  • in spring (March to April) and
  • in autumn (August to September)

In between, the tops can still be trimmed in May if the growth is rapid. It should also be noted that the willingness to grow of the trees of life increases steadily with age.

tip: For a good development and healthy growth of the thuja two to three plants should be planted per running meter of hedge. At a height of 175 cm, one or two thujas are sufficient.


The location also has a decisive influence on the development and also on the height of the thujas. The maintenance effort is almost minimal. Mulching is enough to keep the moisture in the soil. Furthermore, sufficient watering should be ensured in the event of prolonged drought. Love the pine-like plants

  • a sunny to partially shaded location
  • a soil that is not too dry
  • Moist, well drained and slightly acidic soils preferred
  • also grow naturally in swampy areas

In a shady place, thuja growth stagnates. The growth is not very high and dense. Planted as a hedge, the privacy screen leaves a lot to be desired. A relatively dry place should also be avoided, as thujas react there quickly with brown needles.

tip: Since the thujas belong to the year-round evergreen trees, they evaporate a lot of moisture through their leaves in winter. It is therefore necessary to water even on frost-free days. Ample watering should be ensured as early as autumn.

Thuja species

There are mainly three different species in Central Europe, but many varieties are available in specialist shops. These usually differ in their growth and thus in their height. Depending on the variety, the crown can be either narrow and conical. These thujas can reach a height of up to 15 meters. On the other hand, the shape of the crown may resemble a sphere or a column. These shrubs grow up to four meters high.

Western arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis)

They are also traded as "Common Thuja". They originally come from Canada and North America and are mainly used as hedge plants. A single planting can also be an eye-catcher. is characteristic

  • a restrained growth
  • ideal for privacy protection
  • reachable height 20 to 30 m
  • Age up to 180 years
  • Annual growth 35 to 50 cm depending on the variety
  • mostly cone-shaped growth form
  • rounded tip
  • Upward branches
  • Well-known representatives are: "Brabant", "Smaragd", "Columna" and "Yellow Ribbon".
Occidental tree of life, Thuja occidentalis 'Smaragd'

Giant Arborvitae (Thuja plicata)

This tree comes from western North America and is known by the trivial name "red cedar". There, the growth of the thuja reaches a height of up to 70 meters. Because of the light and durable wood with a reddish-brown core, this tree is interesting for forestry. It is best suited for a solitary planting. The advantages of this Thuja species are:

  • very fast growing
  • Growth height in this country 10 to 15 m
  • Growth width 300 to 500 cm
  • Annual growth of up to 80 cm depending on location and variety
  • very robust and hardy to more than -3 °C
  • Growth form pyramidal
  • Stems branched from top to bottom
  • Foliage pleasantly fruity scented
  • urban climate festival
  • Popular varieties are: "Martin", "4ever Goldy", "Excelsa", "Atrovierens".

Oriental Arborvitae (Platycladus orientalis)

The homeland is in East Asia at altitudes of 300 to 3300 meters. There they reach heights of up to 20 meters with a trunk diameter of up to one meter and an age of up to 1000 years. Although the Oriental tree of life is commercially available, it is not very widespread in Central Europe. Key features are:

  • in this country growth height up to 10 m
  • not quite hardy
  • robust and willing to grow
  • Crown initially conical to oval, becoming rounded and irregular with age
  • Commercially available varieties are: "Franky Boy" and "Aurea Nana" (dwarf Goldthuja).

notice: When planting hedges with a growth height of more than two meters, a legal minimum distance of one meter to the neighboring property must always be observed.

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