The Western Red Cedar Tree is a member of the Cupressaceae family. The genus is Thuja and the species is plicata. This particular group of trees grows to more 40 feet in height. It is hardy in zones 5 through 9.
Planting Western Red Cedar Trees
When planting more than one Western Red Cedar, the trees should be spaced 20 to 30 feet apart.
Choose a planting spot in full sun. Full sun is defined as six or more hours of continuous sunlight per day. Prior to planting, do a soil test to be sure the soil is rich enough. Amend the soil as needed according to the soil test results. The pH of the soil should be between 5.5 and 8.5.
Dig a planting hole twice as wide as the root ball and as deep as the soil in the container. Scarify the sides of the planting hole with a pitchfork or shovel. Center the Western Red Cedar in the planting hole and backfill with soil. Create a watering ring around the perimeter of the planting hole. The watering ring will direct water to the outside roots, ensuring a healthy root system. Water well and mulch with at least three inches of compost or pulverized bark.
Water the Western Red Cedar with at least an inch of water per week. Deep watering is always better than frequent, shallow watering, so that the deeper roots get the required moisture.
Western Red Cedar Care
Western Red Cedar does not need to be fertilized often. For the first year, fertilize with a phosphorus-based fertilizer. Phosphorus encourages root growth. After the first year, fertilize once every three years, or as needed with shrub and tree fertilizer. Do a soil test prior to fertilizing to be sure the soil still has all of the required nutrients. If the soil is low or missing nutrients, use a nutrient-based fertilizer instead of an all-around fertilizer.
Western Red Cedar is an evergreen that produces green foliage and brown cones. While it does flower, the flowers are barely visible. Like many evergreens, red cedar pushes its branches upward as it grows, leaving an impressive trunk topped with foliage. To use this tree as a hedge, you'll need to control its growth by keeping the top trimmed back.
These durable trees will thrive in a variety of conditions. Cedars are unusual evergreens in that they have tightly packed leaves rather than needles; this can make the tree a magnet for deer in wintertime, and excessive grazing may kill the tree.
Care should be taken to protect the tree's bark. As Western Red Cedar ages, it's outer bark turns into fibrous strings that were traditionally used by Native Americans for weaving. While some of this bark may be removed, it's best to leave it in place, as pulling too much off will kill the tree.
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