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‘Green Giant’ Stands Tall Among Evergreens

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'Green Giant'All photos by Todd Lasseigne

‘Green Giant’
All photos by Todd Lasseigne

Thuja plicata ‘Green Giant’ is a vigorously growing, pyramidal evergreen with rich green color. The genus is more commonly referred to as arborvitae, which is known for its lustrous dark green leaves in summer with a bit of bronzing in winter months. ‘Green Giant’ has the added feature of a faint white streak on the bottoms of leaves, giving the entire tree a slight but noticeable accent of color.

This cultivar has been available in the U.S. for 30 years, having been imported from Denmark. While ‘Green Giant’ is not a big seller for North Carolina nurseries, it is gaining in popularity as an excellent substitute for Leyland cypress. Many lower growing cultivars also are available and make good landscape additions.

Mature specimens can grow to 40’ tall with an 8’ spread so be sure to give them plenty of room. ‘Green Giant’ is best used in multiple plantings to create a living frame for your landscape, lending a feeling of formality to the garden. The frame also may function as a screen to create more privacy when planted in rows. If not a frame, then ‘Green Giant’ is also effective as a single specimen that functions as an evergreen sentinel.

'Green Giant'All photos by Todd Lasseigne

‘Green Giant’
All photos by Todd Lasseigne

‘Green Giant’, as well as most of its relatives, is not troubled by any significant insect pest or disease problems. It tolerates a wide range of soil types and hardiness zones. Because of its popularity in the Pacific Northwest, few gardeners realize that it has great potential for landscape use in North Carolina. Growth rates of 2- to 4-feet per year have been reported at the JC Raulston Arboretum (JCRA) in Raleigh, making ‘Green Giant’ a plant with many favorable characteristics.

Visit the JCRA to see this plant and other arborvitae cultivars. While there, visit the new education center. To learn more about upcoming speakers and other educational offerings at the JCRA, visit

Carl Matyac