Western Red Cedar – more information (Thuja plicate Atrovirens)
Thuja plicata atrovirens AGM is one of the most aesthetically pleasing of conifers – its dark, browny-red bark shreds to 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.
It is 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.
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.