This arborvitae cultivar was selected in 1946. Herbert picked it out of a crop of Thuja occidentalis seedlings. The winter of 1945-46 was a severe one. It caused arborvitae plants to severely burn throughout the Upper Midwestern part of the United States. His selection was unscathed. He said that the weather-induced damage to the plants made such a severe impression on consumers that for many years later he could not readily sell arborvitae. People were afraid to plant them. So even though Herbert had his new non-burning cultivar, ‘Trautman’, it was difficult to sell.
At the same time that Herbert had made his arborvitae selection his friend, Brother Charles Reckamp of Mission Gardens, made a similar selection at his nursery in Techny, Illinois. His plant was named Thuja occidentalis ‘Mission’, ‘Mission’ Arborvitae. In later years, the name Techny Arborvitae was used for the same plant and it became one of the most popular evergreen cultivars in the history of landscaping in the upper Midwest. Like the Trautman Arborvitae, Techny languished in Brother Charles’ and Herbert’s nurseries for about 15 years before the plant became popular in the 1960s. Trautman Arborvitae never caught on and still hasn’t, even though it is a fine plant.
Trautman Arborvitae is a standard-sized plant getting 20-25’ tall on average and 10-15’ wide. The plant has very good density and is not as loose growing as Techny Arborvitae or even Dark Green, Thuja occidentalis ‘Nigra’. Trautman Arborvitae has somewhat glossy foliage, which readily distinguishes it from most other cultivars. Most importantly, it is very tolerant of open, dry fall and winter seasons when many cultivars may desiccate or burn, showing brown foliage in the late winter. Our nursery recently discontinued growing Dark Green, Thuja occidentalis ‘Nigra’ because of the superiority of the ‘Trautman’ selection.