Thuja plicata

Tried and Trouble-free Recommended by 2 Professionals
Common Name: western red cedar
Type: Needled evergreen
Family: Cupressaceae
Native Range: Western North America
Zone: 5 to 7
Height: 50.00 to 70.00 feet
Spread: 15.00 to 25.00 feet
Bloom Time: Non-flowering
Bloom Description: Non-flowering
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Hedge, Rain Garden
Leaf: Fragrant, Evergreen
Tolerate: Clay Soil, Black Walnut


Best grown in moist, fertile, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Intolerant of dry conditions. Best in full sun, but generally appreciates some light afternoon shade in hot summer climates such as the St. Louis area.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Western red cedar, also called giant red cedar, is native to the Pacific Northwest where it is typically found in cool but moist forest areas and bottomlands from southern Alaska along the Pacific coast to northern California and in the northern Rockies from British Columbia to Montana. This is the largest tree in the cypress family, growing in its native habitat to 100-200’ tall and living from 400 to 1000+ years. In garden cultivation, it will usually top out at 50-70’ tall. It may struggle in the St. Louis area which has such a different climate and soil conditions than its native environment. Young trees grow in a narrow pyramidal form, broadening to columnar with age. Horizontal branching with sprays of scale-like dark green foliage that is aromatic when crushed. Lower branches remain on the tree as it ages. Foliage does not yellow in winter. Small, upright, light brown seed cones (to 1/2” long). Fibrous, aromatic, reddish-brown bark. This is an important timber tree, with rot-resistant wood. Natives of North America used the trees for totem poles and hollowed out tree trunks for canoes. Although possessing a similar common name, eastern red cedar (Juniperus virginiana) is in a different genus than and not closely related to western red cedar.


No serious insect or disease problems. Bagworm and rots may occur. These plants may struggle in the St. Louis area where environmental conditions do not favor most conifers.

Garden Uses

Large specimen tree for lawns, backgrounds. Young trees can be pruned as a hedge or screen.