Scientific: Platycladus orientalis (also known as Thuja orientalis)
Common: oriental arborvitae
Family: Cupressaceae
Origin: China and Korea

Pronounciation: Plat-tee-CLA-dus or-ee-en-TAL-is

Hardiness zones
Sunset
All zones
USDA 5-11

Landscape Use: Nostalgic gardens, parks, foundation and entry plantings, informal hedge. Overall, is dependent on cultivar selection.

Form & Character: Evergreen shrub, upright and rounded to somewhat open with age, conifer, dense, a conspicuous landscape plant for that formal mesic landscape appearance. Older specimens usually end up being trained into larger upright trees with densely foliated crowns.

Growth Habit: Slowly to moderate, eventual height varies from 3 to 30 feet with equal spread in either case.

Foliage/Texture: Mostly light green, appressed scale-like leaves to 1/8 inch long arrayed in a vertical plane; fine texture.

Flowers & Fruits: Flowers inconspicuous clusters, fruits clustered, grayish green small cones, scales closed until fruit fully ripe and ready to disperse seeds, monoecious.

Seasonal Color: Foliage turns brownish purple in cold winter areas.

Temperature: Tolerant

Light: Full sun

Soil: Tolerant

Watering: Regular water best, tolerates little desert drought.

Pruning: Light shearing to none. Overgrown specimens after many decades will inevitable be crown raised into some form of arborescent habit revealing a complex trunk and schaffold branch architecture.

Propagation: Seed, though asexually by cutting is most common.

Disease and pests: Spider mites

Additional comments: There are many cultivars of different vigor and foliar color, some variegated. Some of the more notable cultivars include:

  1. 'Aureus' and 'Aureus Nana' - golden yellow foliage
  2. 'Berkmanii' - dwarf, compact, globe shaped
  3. 'Beverlyensis' - Upright, golden yellow foliage
  4. 'Blue Cone' - blue green foliage'
  5. 'Bonita' - dark green rounded and dwarf
  6. 'Minima Glauca' - dwarf blue foliage

Oriental arborvitae is usually associated with older landscapes and older design themes in the Phoenix area. They are often found in an overgrown state having been planted decades ago as a foundation corner plant. In time, they become massive visual green blobs. And the take home message is.....USE DWARF CULTIVARS!