I saw the article in the January issue of Kentucky Living about the green giant arborvitae. My mother bought some from a nursery along with a white pine and all were planted about two years ago. The white pine has grown 3-4 feet, while the arborvitae have only grown 1-2 feet. I am starting to think they might not be the “green giant” variety. Is there a way to tell?
The Gardener’s Answer
Hello, Shelia in Kentucky: Just like all plants have different growing requirements, they also have different growth rates. Some plants are just faster growers than others and the rate may change depending on age and growing environment. Newly installed plants need to use their energy getting their roots established so they can be long-lived. It is not uncommon that for the first few years in a new home, plants may not put on a lot of growth. ‘Green Giant’ is a named cultivar of a western arborvitae (Thuja plicata). It has a complicated “family tree” and unfortunately it is difficult to identify specific cultivars and so we are rely on the growers to tag the plants correctly. I would suspect that the plants were tagged correctly and they will eventually reach their mature size. Unlike other members of this species ‘Green Giant’ is considered a rapid grower, after establishment of course. White pine (Pinus strobus) is also a fast grower. As long as the plants look healthy and are given sufficient light and nutrients you should not be too concerned. Give them another year or so and they will take off.