Thuja Plicata ‘Excelsa’

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17 Feb Thuja Plicata ‘Excelsa’

The Excelsa is a beautiful Western Red Cedar that reaches great heights and provides an excellent opportunity for privacy screens or hedges. This beautiful tree holds its deep dark green color year round. They have a nice smell and are commonly used as windbreaks.

They prefer full sun or partial shade and will adapt well to different soil conditions.

In the past few years the popularity of this tree has grown immensely due to its excellent screening properties. They are very adaptable, and low maintenance.

Mature Height: 30-35 ft.
Mature Width: 12-15 ft.
Sunlight: Full sun, partial sun.
Soil:. Moist/wet soil tolerant.
Growth Rate: Medium/fast, 2-3′ a year once established, depending on growing conditions.


“Instant Privacy” Use: Often used when an Arborvitae is too small but a height-controlled screening tree is called for..


“Instant Privacy” Spacing: These trees can be spaced on 4, 6, or 8′ centers (meaning the trunks of each tree are 4′, 6′, or 8′ apart) or wider. For example, if you’re trying to cover 40′ with trees on 8′ centers, you’d need 6 trees (the first one at “0” ft. on one end, and then one every 8′ after that). Some people want them even closer than that in order to maximize the ‘Instant Privacy”, while others will put them wider in order to cut down on the cost. Also look at staggering two rows if you have the room–maybe 8’ centers, and then a row behind that fills in the spaces–this is good for the trees as it gives them more room, but it takes up more space in your yard.


What to Expect the First Year: As with all newly-planted trees, these need to be watered carefully through the first Spring/Summer–see our “Care of Your Trees” section for more details. Not as much growth the first year because the tree is putting its efforts into its root system. This includes interior foliage which can make the trees not as full as they were in the field. Some small branches that were broken during installation will turn brown (cut them off or just leave them and they will fall off). See the note in the next section concerning bronzing.


Comments: Like all cedars, these trees can have “bronze” coloring in the Winter; the extent of this bronzing depends on a number of factors and is usually more extensive for newly-planted trees. They also naturally have some interior “flagging”–small dead branches. Nothing unhealthy about it, just different from the look of the tree the rest of the year. During very extended periods of wet weather, they may experience “cedar blight” which is not fatal but can affect how they look (and also can be treated if necessary). Excelsa Cedar may be left “natural”, or may be pruned on sides and/or top to create a hedge (see “Hedged Excelsas” below).

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