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THUJA occidentalis 'Little Gem'

Image of Thuja occidentalis 'Little Gem'

James H. Schutte

Family

Cupressaceae

Botanical Name

THUJA occidentalis 'Little Gem'

Plant Common Name

Eastern Arborvitae, White Cedar

General Description

It is likely that no native American evergreen is more prevalent in the North American landscape than arborvitae. Slowly forming a waist-high shrub twice as broad as tall, 'Little Gem' is a compact mounded form of this eastern North American native. Its fan-like sprays of soft, feathery, crinkled, dark green foliage may take on a bronze cast in winter. The leaves emit a pungent odor when bruised. The small tan female cones are not ornamentally significant.

Arborvitae performs best in full to part sun and acidic to neutral soil with average drainage. It appreciates some protection from winter sun and wind, which can cause leaf scorch. It may also need protection from heavy snow and browsing deer. Extremely cold-hardy and highly versatile, this old but still popular cultivar (introduced 1891) is an excellent choice for mixed borders, foundation plantings, containers, and rock gardens.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    7 - 1

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    3 - 7

  • Sunset Zone

    A2, A3, 1a, 1b, 2a, 3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 15, 16, 17, 21, 22, 23, 24

  • Plant Type

    Needled or Scaled Evergreen

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun

  • Height

    2'-3' / 0.6m - 0.9m

  • Width

    4'-6' / 1.2m - 1.8m

  • Bloom Time

    Spring

  • Native To

    Northeastern United States, Mid-Atlantic United States, Southeastern United States, North-Central United States, Central United States, Canada

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral

  • Soil Drainage

    Average

  • Soil type

    Clay, Loam, Sand

  • Tolerances

    Pollution, Soil Compaction

  • Growth Rate

    Slow

  • Water Requirements

    Average Water

  • Habit

    Cushion/Mound-forming

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    None

  • Fruit Color

    Brown

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Dark Green, Bronze

  • Foliage Color (Winter)

    Dark Green, Bronze

  • Bark Color

    Brown, Sienna

  • Fragrant Flowers

    No

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    Yes

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    Yes

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    No

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    Yes

  • Foliage Texture

    Fine

  • Foliage Sheen

    Glossy

  • Evergreen

    Yes

  • Showy Bark

    Yes

Special Characteristics

  • Bark Texture

    Exfoliating

  • Usage

    Container, Foundation, Groundcover, Mixed Border, Rock Garden / Wall, Topiary / Bonsai / Espalier

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    No

  • Self-Sowing

    No