The tree of life impresses above all with its evergreen foliage, although it is actually needles, because it is a coniferous plant. In technical jargon they are called scale leaves because they really don’t look like needles. Thuja emerald also shines with its great color. The name says it all, the green shimmers in an emerald color. It looks especially great in the sun. A special feature of this tree of life is that the color is retained even in winter. Many other varieties turn brownish. The slim growth is favorable, so that the hedge only needs to be dammed in height if you want to. The pages do not have to be cut or barely need to be cut. The tree of life can also be planted well as a solitary.

Thuja as a privacy screen

Thuja hedges offer good privacy, but also keep out noise. They are nice and tight. Behind it you can feel safe and secure. Birds also like to nest in the arborvitae. The aromatic scent of the needles is particularly pleasant. When you walk by and brush the needles, you smell it very intensely. The seeds are rather inconspicuous and hardly serve as an ornament.

Tree of Life – care

Thuja tree of Life

The tree of life is a very good hedge plant, but is also suitable as a solitary plant. Maintenance is simple and takes little time. It is important to have the right location, which must by no means be too dark. The plant substrate is also important. It can’t be too dry. Then the cut is decisive. Usually, a cutting appointment in early spring is enough. In the summer, only strongly sprouted shoots that protrude from the mass are cut away. There is really not much more to be done. If the soil is dry, it must of course be watered abundantly, at least for the first three years. After that, the plants do very well on their own.


The location must be as bright as possible. Bright sun is better than shade, although then you have to water more. Otherwise, the Thuja Smaragd can handle any location.

  • Sunny to partially shaded location
  • As light as possible in partial shade
  • In places that are too shady, it does not grow evenly and loosely and does not offer good privacy protection. It won’t be that compact.
  • If the hedge is very close to a road, damage from the rock salt can occur (browned branch tips in the area close to the ground)!

Plant substrate

It is important that the soil is not too dry. Nevertheless, it should be permeable. Otherwise Thujas are quite undemanding. They thrive on nutrient-poor as well as nutrient-rich soils, which should be neutral, slightly acidic, but preferably calcareous, i.e. alkaline.

  • Not too dry substrate. When it is dry, the needles sometimes turn brown
  • Grows well on moist and sometimes wet soil
  • Soil can be slightly acidic
  • If the soil is too acidic, the needles often turn brown-black. The reason is too much manganese in the soil. Carbonate helps, plus compost after about 2 to 3 months.
  • Always test the pH of the soil first. Test sets are available in the garden center.


Arborvitae thuja plant

Trees of life are offered in very different sizes. Since the trees grow quickly, you can safely buy the smaller, much cheaper plants. They also have the advantage that they grow better than the large specimens.

Trees of life can be replanted without any problems, even in old age. The root ball must be taken out of the earth as large as possible. Loss of roots cannot be avoided in older plants. It is important to cut back in height. The roots must be severed with a sharp spade. What remains must be a compact root ball.

  • Spring is the best time to plant.
  • Mix the soil abundantly with compost.
  • Dig a large planting hole!
  • Water the pads before planting!
  • The level of the substrate should be a few centimeters lower than the surrounding soil. So irrigation water cannot run away.
  • Very decorative as a background for roses
  • Plant spacing for hedges 40 to 50 cm
  • 2 to 3 plants per meter
  • Water abundantly after planting and keep it that way. Many freshly planted thuja dry up.
  • When the thuja is rooted in (when the height begins to grow) less watering can be done

Watering and fertilizing

It is important that the trees of life are always kept moist. In their natural habitat, thujas also grow in wet and swampy substrates and are found at the edges of water bodies. This is why dry soil is harmful over time. Watering is therefore important, especially when it is dry. When it comes to fertilization, a distinction is made between initial fertilization and normal annual fertilization. When starting fertilization, it depends on whether you buy bare-root goods or bale goods. In the case of arborvitae with plant balls, stock fertilization is included, at least if you buy from a specialist. Therefore, additional fertilizer applications can be significantly lower. It is generally beneficial to add manure that has been deposited during planting, along with horn shavings and rock flour. The nutrient requirement of hedge plants is higher than that of a solitary plant.

  • Mulching to protect the plants from drying out!
  • Water sufficiently in dry periods!
  • Freshly planted arborvitae in particular must not stand dry. The first three years are particularly important!
  • If you don’t mulch the soil or don’t bring in compost, you should fertilize!
  • Fertilize with conifer fertilizer
  • Sensitive to salt – no mineral fertilizer!
  • Do not over-fertilize blue grain !!!
  • Horn shavings are better, this is a natural long-term fertilizer
  • Water a lot in case of over-fertilization! The salt must be washed into the deeper layers of the soil!
  • If there is a lack of magnesium, Epsom salt helps, but use it exactly as directed!

To cut

There are no special features in the cut. It is important to cut from the beginning, this promotes growth. It is cut before the start of budding (February / March), then the time in which the thuja looks a bit torn from the cut is quite short. In summer you can then carefully shorten protruding shoots. Be careful not to disturb the birds as they breed. Do not cut with the hedge trimmer!

  • In principle, you can cut all year round, except when there is frost.
  • Cut right from the start!
  • Conical cut, as the thuja is bald on the inside
  • Enough light must be able to penetrate inside!
  • Don’t cut into old wood! This does not drive out again because there are no sleeping eyes.
  • The amount can be reduced radically.
  • Cutting back in strong sunlight can cause burns.


Overwintering is not a problem because the arborvitae is hardy, even without protection.


Propagating conifers is not easy. The Tree of Life is no exception. The best way to do it is to sow. Propagation works much better through self-sufficiency.
If you want to get the pure variety, you have to clone the plant, reproduce asexually. When sown it is a bisexual reproduction. The seedlings do not have to have the same properties as the parent plants.

  • Sowing is possible, but very laborious and often unsuccessful.
  • It is best to sow in autumn, in a cold box immediately after the harvest.
  • Cold germ, absolutely needs cold
  • If you want to keep the seeds by spring, then store them in damp sand in the refrigerator for at least 4 weeks.
  • The germination period is long, from several weeks to several months
  • Propagation from cuttings is better.
  • Tear, do not cut, cuttings in late summer! Some bark tongue should stay on the wood, but it will be shortened.
  • Dip the cut surface in rooting powder and stick in a mixture of earth and sand!
  • Temperatures around 20 ° C and a light location.
  • Pour on and always keep it slightly moist!

Arborvitae thuja Diseases and pests

Diseases and pests

The tree of life is often attacked by fungal diseases. They usually show themselves through brown tips and dark discoloration. A consistent pruning usually helps. In an emergency, the use of fungicides may be necessary. Thuja root rot is also a serious enemy. The fungus can wreak havoc on the roots.

  • Pestalotia shoot death – the fungus is a parasite of weakness. It attacks the branches, starting from the extreme tips. You will get tan first. Then he wanders inward. The twigs, including the scale leaves, turn brown and die off. You can see the round, pinhead-sized, black fruiting bodies on the infected shoots. They form numerous spores.
  • Needle or flaky tan – also a fungus. Older leaf scales turn brown. Larger areas can also be affected. In spring, up to two millimeters in size, round to oval, brown-black fruiting bodies can be found in these zones. These release spores, which in turn infect new plants and parts. The lower, shaded branches are mostly attacked.
  • Kabatina shoot death – this fungus likes to attack the young and soft shoot tips. They are dying off. The sharp demarcation to deeper ligating and healthy branches is remarkable. Trees of life that thrive on acidic soil are particularly affected.
  • Thuja root rot – the fungus can cause great damage. At first the needles turn yellow, later they turn brown and the entire plant dies. Only an appropriate fungicide can help here. If a thuja dies and is to be replanted, the soil must first be replaced over a large area!


  • The higher purchase price is offset by the lower maintenance costs.
  • Small thuja plants often take as long to reach a sufficient height as a hedge as larger specimens. This is because the big ones take a shock when they transplant. The growth stops. So you can confidently buy the small ones and save a lot of money. That is better laid out in irrigation.
  • Before planting as a border hedge, it is essential to inquire about the legal regulations on hedge heights and border distances. These are not regulated uniformly in the federal states. Planting too densely can cause trouble later.

Thuja Smaragd is a popular hedge plant. This is because it is evergreen, so it guarantees privacy protection all year round. In addition, the plants grow quite quickly and are easy to care for. Compared to other trees of life, thuja emerald has the advantage that the beautiful color is retained even in winter. The cut is easy, the maintenance is not complicated. The location, the substrate and sufficient moisture are decisive. If all of this is correct, the plants will develop quickly and without any problems.

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