Thuja occidentalis 'Fastigiata' (Columnar Eastern White Cedar)

Michael's Opinion

A nice grey-green conifer with an upright form that can be used as a windbreak or hedge. Flattened sprays of foliage on branches with shaggy orange-brown bark make an attractive tree for the landscape.

Botanical Information

TypeTree (evergreen)
ReferencesKelly, John. The Hillier Gardener’s Guide to Trees and Shrubs. Montreal: David and Charles Publishers. 1997. Print. “Thuja occidentalis ‘Fastigiata.” Kwanten Polytechnic University School of Horticulture. 2012. Web. Feb 28.12.
OriginNorth America, not always recognized at a separate cultivar from ‘Pyramidalis’


USDA Hardiness Zone3–7a
USDA Hardiness Ref.
Canadian Hardiness Zone4–8a
Canada Hardiness Ref.
RHS Hardiness ZoneH7
RHS Hardiness Ref.
Temperature (°C)-40 - (-17)
Temperature (°F)-40 - (0)
Height8 - 9 m
Spread2 - 3 m
Flowering PeriodApril, May

Description and Growing Information

General DescriptionAn upright columnar or pyramidal evergreen tree.
ID CharacteristicColumnar upright evergreen with greyish green foliage and orange-brown shaggy bark.
ShapeColumnar, pyramidal, and more narrow than other Thuja cultivars.
LandscapeCan be used as a hedge, screen, windbreak, foundation planting or less commonly as a specimen plant.
PropagationCan be propagated by hardwood cuttings in late summer by cutting shoots 25 cm long. Put rooting hormone on the cut end, insert into potting mix, and place in a closed case with bottom heat. Plant will root in 6–8 weeks and can be transplanted to a pot to be planted outdoors the following autumn. Can also be propagated by softwood cuttings in spring or early summer from new growth before it firms up. Select vigorous shoots and cut stem to 4–5 cm in length. Place the cuttings in a closed case, water, and keep out of direct sunlight. Once rooted, harden off and re-pot.
CultivationPrefers partial to full sun. Grows well in wet soils but can tolerate dry periods. Soils can be acidic, neutral or slightly alkaline sand, loam or clay. Young trees may need shelter from cold or dry winds until established. Hedges should be pruned in late spring. May require burlap wrapping in winter due to damage from snow or ice loads.
PestsNo major pests or disease problems. Prone to winter loading, leaving the tree looking untidy after bending and breaking of branches under heavy snow.
Notable SpecimensVanDusen Botanical Garden in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada has a maze created from Thuja occidentalis ‘Fastigiata.’ University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada. Royal Botanical Gardens, Burlington, Ontario, Canada.
HabitatHorticultural origin.
Bark DescriptionOrange-brown and shaggy, peeling off in long vertical strips on mature trees.
Bud DescriptionBuds are 3 mm in size with opposite arrangement. Difficult to tell the difference between the bud and the foliage.
Leaf DescriptionGreyish-green foliage turns green in autumn and then bronze in the winter months. Foliage grows in flattened sprays on spreading branches is flat and scale-like, typical of cedars (arborvitae), in opposite arrangement with leathery texture and smooth surface. Leaves smell tansy-like when crushed.
Flower DescriptionSeparate solitary male and female flowers.
Fruit DescriptionFruits from September to October; cones are egg shaped, 1.5 cm long, smooth and green turning to brown containing winged seeds with maturation.
Colour DescriptionFoliage is a greyish green in spring and summer, turning to green in autumn and then a bronze colour in the winter months; the bark is orange-brown.
Texture DescriptionFine texture given from feathery effect of foliage; coarser texture than ‘Smaragd’ cultivar.