Thuja plicata 'Whipcord'
Common Name: western red cedar 
Type: Needled evergreen
Family: Cupressaceae
Zone: 5 to 7
Height: 4.00 to 5.00 feet
Spread: 4.00 to 5.00 feet
Bloom Time: Non-flowering
Bloom Description: Non-flowering
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Rain Garden
Leaf: Evergreen
Other: Winter Interest
Tolerate: Clay Soil, Black Walnut


Best grown in moist, fertile, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Thrives in cool summer climates. Intolerant of dry conditions. Best in full sun, but generally appreciates some light afternoon shade in hot summer climates. It may struggle in the St. Louis area which has considerable different climate and soil conditions than the native habitat of this conifer.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Thuja plicata, commonly called western red cedar or 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. It features horizontal branching with sprays of scale-like dark green foliage that is aromatic when crushed. Fibrous, aromatic, reddish-brown bark. Small, upright, light brown seed cones (to 1/2” long).

Genus name is the Greek name for a kind of juniper (Juniperus.)

Specific epithet means pleated.

'Whipcord' is a shrubby, slow-growing, dwarf form that features pendulous whipcord-like green foliage which droops from branchlets rising upward from the center before arching downward. This small shrub typically grows as a flattened mound when young (to 2' tall and to 3' wide over the first 10 years), but eventually forms over time a more rounded shrub to 4-5' tall and as wide. Glossy green foliage usually acquires bronze tones in winter.


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.


Drooping dwarf conifer with drooping cord-like foliage has excellent specimen value. Foundations. Rock Gardens.