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Cedar Care

In Eastern Ontario growing Cedars can be a challenge. In the last decades the trend has been towards inexpensive grocery store pyramidal Emerald Cedars (Thuya occ. Smaragd). 

These Cedars have been grown on the west coast (B.C.) where it rains often. This means they grow in less than half the time it would take an Ontario grower.  They are not prepared for our cold winters nor for our drier climate. Ontario growers have often given up growing them.

The low cost creates a pattern where people simply replace them till they either survive or the home-owner gives up.  Here are some tips and ideas for getting grocery store Cedars to survive.

Plant Cedars in the spring soon after they arrive at stores. The longer they are at the store the less likely they will survive.

The root balls tend to be cut very small to cut their weight for transport so water is key. Buying shorter plants will also help.

Use a soluble transplanting fertilizer with a formula similar to 10-52-10 that is very high middle (phosphate) number.  Remember fertilizer is about the ratio, so 12-48-9 or even 10-32-10 would also be fine. The types with root stimulating hormone also work well. High middle numbers contribute to root (and flower) growth. Bone-meal is also high in phosphate.

Cedars grow naturally in very moist almost bog like conditions. The soil is rich in organics and stays moist, often they grow in a low area.

To help your Cedars; add good quality organic matter while planting, mulch them with a shredded bark (preferably cedar), create an easy way to water them, water in the early and late fall, protect from winter winds and salt.

A soaker hose that can be left in place under the mulch for many years is a great solution. Standing with a hose is not usually a good solution for more than 3 trees. A 1M Cedar that has just been planted will need 3-5 gallons of water a week. Ideally divided into 3 times. An easy rule of thumb is water every day for 1 weeks, every 2nd day for two weeks and every 3rd day (or twice a week) for 3 weeks. It does not often rain enough to skip watering in the first critical month. Measuring rainfall with a tin can or ramekin is useful, and if an inch has fallen you can skip watering.

How long to water using a soaker hose can be a bit of a challenge, but starting with 20 minutes a day while watering daily might work. Most wells can run for 20 minutes without any problem, provided there is recovery time after. If running your water for 20 minutes is impossible, you should not plant Cedars. In the city your water pressure may be too high for a soaker hose without some sort of pressure reducer such as Lee Valley sells. Soaker hoses do not work well on slopes. Sloped areas are harder to keep moist and may be a bad location for Cedars.

Most of the die-back seems to occur in winter. This reflects poor watering practices especially in fall or drought. Evergreens continue to transpire through winter and so all evergreens benefit from a deep watering in late fall if it has been dry. Some extra watering the first 2-3 years is beneficial especially in spring when new growth is appearing.

A barrier of burlap on the windward side (west or southwest in this area) helps if it is a wind swept location. If next to a road then burlap between road and Cedars can help protect against salt spray.

At Made in the Shade we usually do not stock Cedar. Through the years we have found the higher prices for more locally grown cedars are not accepted.

Made in the Shade Perennials
3626 Hwy 2 RR 3 (4.5 km east of Joyceville Rd.)   Gananoque,  Ontario    K7G 2V5
Phone: (613) 382-8251      eMail: