Description & Overview

Wintergreen Arborvitae is a narrow and conical variety of Thuja occidentalis with dense, almost fluffy bright green foliage, making it an excellent option for screening, tall hedges, or windbreaks. This particular arborvitae stays green throughout the year, with less bronzing or discoloration common amongst other varieties. Growing up to two feet per year, Wintergreen is fast-growing and while it prefers full sun, it has better shade tolerance than others.

You may also know this plant as Hetz Wintergreen.

Core Characteristics

Category: Conifer

Wisconsin Native: No - Variety of North American Native

USDA Hardiness Zone: to zone 3

Mature Height: 20-30 feet

Mature Spread: 8-10 feet

Growth Rate: Moderate

Growth Form: Columnar and pyramidal

Light Requirements: Full Sun to Partial Shade

Site Requirements: Moist, well - drained average soil but tolerates heat and occasional drought.

Flower: Insignificant, cone - like

Bloom Period: Spring

Foliage: Scale - like, bright green

Fall Color: Evergreen

Urban Approved: Yes

Fruit Notes: 1/3" to 1/2" long, cones that emerge green, ripening to a coppery brown color in fall.

Suggested Uses

Wintergreen thrives in full sun (6+ hours of sunlight) in moist, well-drained soil; however, they are highly adaptable to other conditions, tolerating heat, clay, and occasional drought. With a slim profile and growing to the ground, Wintergreen is perfect for smaller areas where privacy or hiding an unsightly scene is desired. Cold hardy to Zone 3, they adapt well to our winters and are a good option for blocking wind and drifting snow.

Besides screening, Wintergreen can be used in other ways. Consider using it as an elegant accent or specimen planted with shorter and more round species. They make a sophisticated statement by framing an entryway or anchoring the corner of a building.

Combine with finer or coarser trees and shrubs to amp up the contrast and make Wintergreen stand out. Its texture and year-round color blend well with any landscape.

Wintergreen Arborvitae is a narrow and conical variety of Thuja occidentalis with dense, almost fluffy bright green foliage, making it an excellent op…
Wintergreen Arborvitae is a narrow and conical variety of Thuja occidentalis with dense, almost fluffy bright green foliage, making it an excellent op…

Wildlife Value

Thick, lush, and soft foliage provides great nesting and cover opportunities for our songbird friends. Chickadees, sparrows, juncos, robins, nuthatches, and more will often be seen on Arborvitae.

Deer will browse on foliage and often nestle around or underneath for shelter in the winter.

Maintenance Tips

Easy to grow and low-maintenance, Wintergreen can be pruned, but it is seldom required as it holds its shape quite well. In those instances where pruning is a must, only trim back the new growth of the current season and remove dieback.

Any shearing should be done in early spring before the first flush of new growth.

Wintergreen Arborvitae is a narrow and conical variety of Thuja occidentalis with dense, almost fluffy bright green foliage, making it an excellent op…

Pests/Problems

Black Walnut Tolerant: Yes
Deer Resistant: No
Rabbit Resistant: No

Arborvitae is to deer like candy is to kids. Deer is drawn to Arborvitae and prefer them over other conifers. For this reason, if you have deer in your area, you will need to use fencing, deer repellant, or a combination of the two to protect against damage. Read more about Deer Protection.

Wintergreen has few issues with pests or diseases. Bagworm larvae may sometimes move in, but they can be difficult to spot until they’ve already formed their bags and begun chewing. Inspect your trees in the fall when eggs are laid, and again in May through June when they hatch. The least damaging removal method is hand-picking or cutting the bags from the plants. If this is too difficult (and gross), contact an arborist for assistance.

Spider mites are the other pest that can afflict Arborvitae. They are incredibly tiny and tough to see with the naked eye. An indicator that there is a problem is that foliage begins to turn a dull green. Mites are difficult to treat and require multiple applications of a targeted product to avoid harming beneficial insects. We recommend contacting an arborist for assistance.

The best prevention is appropriate care. Make sure your arborvitae is watered properly and a mulch ring is applied around the base of the tree to help reduce moisture loss and protect the roots in winter.

Leaf Lore

The genus name Thuja is Greek for “a kind of juniper,” while the specific epithet occidentalis means “from the Western (Occidental) world.”

F.C. Hetz and Fairview Evergreen Nursery discovered a seedling of Hetz Wintergreen in the 1940s and it has remained a popular choice since that time.

Thuja occidentalis in general was used by several Indigenous tribes for several purposes. The Chippewa burned twigs for incense in ceremonies and parts of the plant were used as a deodorant and to perfume clothing. A compound of leaves was used as cough syrup and leaves were brewed to make hot tea. Wood was used to make canoe ribs, toboggans, and spears for fishing sturgeon. The Cree used a decoction of branches to treat pneumonia and a vapor bath to treat a variety of ailments. Crushed branches were used by the Algonquin to ease toothaches and a poultice of powdered, rotten wood was used on rashes.

Companion Plants

The nice thing about Wintergreen Arborvitae is that they provide an excellent backdrop for just about any shrub, small tree, or perennial. The combinations are endless provided other plants like the same conditions.

A beautiful contrast of darker-colored plants could include Hillside Black Beauty Snakeroot, Cat’s Pajamas Catmint, August Moon Hosta, Japanese Painted Fern, Standing Ovation Little Bluestem, Sun King Aralia, and Plum Pudding Coral Bells.

Combine with shrubs such as Annabelle Hydrangea, Miss Kim Lilac, Koreanspice Viburnum, Redosier Dogwood, Forsythia, Buttonbush, or Winecraft Smokebush for stunning color and texture contrast.

Wintergreen Arborvitae is a narrow and conical variety of Thuja occidentalis with dense, almost fluffy bright green foliage, making it an excellent op…
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Written by Johnson's Nursery