Friday, January 6, 2017

Instant Gratification With Thuja Green Giants

By Scott Bailey


Well, maybe not instant gratification, but as close as you can get in the real world of botany. Thuja Green Giants are probably the fastest growing ornamental evergreen you can buy. A hybrid developed by crossing an American thuja with an Asian variety, this gorgeous tree tapers gracefully to a majestic height, achieves a uniform width, and grows up to five feet a year after getting established. It is also renowned for being maintenance free.

The basic drill is to plant them five to six feet apart in a row. In a remarkably short time, you'll have an unbroken line of year-round greenery, made up of identical trees. They are easy to prune to keep them at the exact height you need against a fence or along a lot line. Planted on an estate, these beauties can shield a home from the road and make a magnificent statement at the same time.

Of course, you need to allow space for them. You can prune them to any height or width, but they are still a big tree. Left alone, they will grow to 30 feet and spread 25 feet wide. In a row where they are spaced 5 to 6 feet apart, they will attain a height of 20 feet and a width of about 8. Planting directions specify at least 4 feet from fence or property line and 15 feet from a septic system. The roots of an established tree spread a little farther than its branches.

Thujas are evergreens in the cypress family. They are also known as arborvitae, a name which may be more familiar. The hybrids adapt to almost any soil, are insect and disease resistant, and don't need fertilizer once they are firmly rooted in place. Even bagworms leave them alone, as do deer most of the time. Although they are Heat resistant, they do best with regular watering during hot, dry periods. Because the best trees are grown from cuttings, they all look alike.

A dense row of these trouble-free evergreens provides privacy and protection from the wind. It also is an effective noise barrier. If you live in a high traffic area and want to grow vegetables, a hedge like this will shield your yard from up to 90 percent of heavy metals from air pollution.

With their cross-bred nature, the giants are left alone by deer and insect pests. Hardy to -20 degrees Fahrenheit but heat tolerant, too, they can thrive in planting zones 5 to 9. Check optimal planting times for Georgia; planting at the right time of year helps new trees get established and start their extraordinary growth. Browse online sites for information on size, price, shipping costs, and guarantees. You'll also get tips on thuja culture.

The best deal seems to be a well-rooted tree in a roomy container. A 6 to 7 foot tree can come in a one gallon pot or in a 7 gallon container, depending on the nursery. Buying direct from a grower means you may get a great price - no middleman - and can save even more if you can pick up your trees rather than have them shipped. Evaluate the prices carefully, making sure to factor in shipping costs, if any. Some nurseries offer free shipping.

These trees that look like royalty and grow like weeds can transform your property in such a short period of time it seems almost magical. It's unreal that you can have six or seven foot trees shipped to your door and have a majestic row of them in as little as four years. However, it's true.




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