Its dark, browny-red bark shreds add texture to warm colours, contrasted by the glossy evergreen and fragrant foliage – subtly tinged with grey on lower branches. The scent is delicately reminiscent of pineapple and can waft across a surprisingly wide area. The small cones it occasionally produces are another attraction.
Western Red Cedar FAQs
When should I trim Western Red Cedar?
Western Red Cedar can be tidied up anytime from spring to early autumn. Also, any trimming is purely for aesthetic purposes – necessary if you want a neat formal hedge but entirely unnecessary from the plant’s perspective. If you’re not bothered by the neat and the tidy, you can just leave it to sort itself out.
How often to trim Western Red Cedar?
Trimming is the only necessary task requiring sheers, secateurs or electric trimmers. To keep a Western Red Cedar hedge in shape it will need trimming once or twice from late spring to early autumn. Trimming more often won’t do any harm but don’t leave too late to give it a late trim. The cut wood requires several weeks to recover and needs to do this before the cold and wet of winter sets in.
What’s the best technique?
Western Red Cedar is a remarkably forgiving plant and as it doesn’t need pruning to give of its best (unlike, say, the Rose) there is no real technique to master. Unless you go mad and cut it all down, your hedge will take pretty much anything in its stride – including having its old wood cut into. Do that to a Leylandii and it will probably fail to recover.
Need to know how many plants?
Enter the length of your proposed hedge in metres below and the number of plants we recommend will appear.
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Western Red Cedar at-a-glance
A hardy plant that once established is capable of coping with just about anything our climate may throw at it. Younger plants should be protected against winds as these can have a detrimental drying effect. It’s not really suited to coastal gardens – Griselinia littoralis AGM, Photinia x fraseri ‘Red Robin’, Escallonia macrantha Rubra or Buxus Sempervirens are good alternatives if you garden by the sea.
For those who need to put their hedge to work, the thick growth of Thuja plicata makes it one of the best barrier hedges available as it is effective against wind, noise, prying eyes and intruders – and aesthetically far more pleasing than a fence!
Aromatic and tough, Thuja plicata therefore offers far more than just a slower-growing alternative to Leylandii and is a perfect choice for a statement hedge of anything from 1.5m to 6m.
Soil and Situation: Any well-drained soil. Western Red Cedar will not require regular feeding, though a sprinkling of a slow-release proprietary fertilizer in the spring will do no harm.
Maintenance:No pruning is actually required to maintain the health of Thuja plicata atrovirens though to transform it into an attractive and neat hedge, trimming is obviously necessary. This can be done from spring through to early autumn.Unlike with Leylandii, you can cut back into old wood.
Versatility:Thuja plicata makes both an excellent specimen tree and a thick, appealing hedge.
And Finally: Well deserving its RHS AGM award, Thuja plicata atrovirens is a cultivar of the Western (Pacific) Redcedar, a member of the Cupressaceae family native to North America. Its name translates as: Thuja (from its name in classical Greek: ‘thua’) plicata (Cedar) atrovirens (dark green). Its common name of Western Red Cedar is increasingly spelt Redcedar to distinguish it from true Cedars to which it is NOT related! One more example of how Byzantine horticultural taxonomy can be. Thujas are also known as arborvitaes from the Latin arbor vitae – tree of life.
Foliage Type: Evergreen Hardiness: ✯✯✯✯✯ Ease of maintenance: ✯✯✯✯✯ Versatility: ✯✯✯✯ Drought Resistance: ✯✯✯✯ Soil Type: Chalk, Clay, Sand or Loam pH: Acid, Alkaline or Neutral Wet/Dry: Moist but well-drained Preferred Situation: Full Sun to Full Shade Aspect: Can be planted facing any aspect, though prefers South or East Shelter: Shelter is not a necessity as Western Red Cedar will tolerate an exposed situation Specialist Care:Young plants should be protected from drying winds. Planting Distance: For a quick-setting hedge, plant at 60cm intervals. If you can wait a year, maybe two years, longer for the hedge to close, plant at 1m intervals. If you require your hedge to provide the maximum possible protection, plant four per metre in a double staggered (i.e. two parallel zig-zag rows) Height: 12m+ Spread: 8m+ Growth Rate: Medium Fast (40-60cm annually) Moisture: Western Red Cedar prefers damp but well-draining soil. It is, in fact riparian and so tolerates damp, boggy, conditions commonly found, for example, where land meets rivers, lakes and other large bodies of water, Light: Prefers full sun but will grow happily, if less quickly, in full shade
The Key Advantages of a Western Red Cedar Hedge
• Western Red Cedar can be maintained to any height and to a width as narrow as 45cm • It is easy to maintain and extremely forgiving when trimming, and unlike Leylandii, you can cut into the old wood – it won’t brown and will re-shoot • Western Red Cedar will grow in any well-draining soil, even shallow chalk • While a Western Red Cedar Hedge prefers full sun, it will grow happily, if a little less quickly, in full shade • It makes an exceptionally smart, formal hedge when tightly clipped. While a similar hedge can be achieved with Leylandii, it requires a great deal more work • Western Red Cedar has a delightful aromatic fragrance, described by many as a subtle pineapple • And the foliage is equally attractive – spreading, sometimes drooping, in a display of rich olive greens • Even its bark is striking – its rich, dark, browny-red shreds to add texture and contrast to the warm, forest colours of the foliage