Thuja Green Giant help - just planted

Andreyta(Z4-5 IA)November 15, 2005


My husband and I planted about 20 Thuja GG in our home for privacy fence. We planted little seedlings around the second week in October and were watering them every day for about two weeks, then we read somewhere that they should only be watered about once a week, so we changed and watered once a week and the little plants began to turn brown. We went back to watering everyday, but they aren't turning back. Is there anything we can do to save them? We still don't know if we should keep watering them as winter is coming, or what to do to help them survive to next year. We live in IA and our property shows to be on the borderline between zones 4 and 5. Any help will be appreciated.

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Markrjc(z3 ONT)

I know the weather had been HOT, though unless you have dry sandy soil, watering every day would not of been necessary. The browning is likely a delayed reaction from the over abundance of watering. With winter coming on, I would not continue to heap on the water. You will just have to wait till spring and see how your cedars come along. I imagine it was city water you had used? I don't know how well cedars tolerate chlorine?


    Bookmark   November 15, 2005 at 6:44PM
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Planting evergreens in the fall isn't the best idea. Most experts in the north advise to plant them in the spring. Watering on schedules should be overrided by checking the soil moisture in the ground. If its moist, they don't need more water drowning them.

I planted some 'green giants' last fall, but they died because they were in an exposed location. The ones planted in a protected nursery are fine.

Watering them too much in the fall won't change the fact that in the winter the ground will be frozen and the little seedlings won't be able to stop the dessication to their fragile evergreen tops.

Hopefully, the location they are in is well protected from the winter elements.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2005 at 8:09PM
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Hi Andreyta,

You might be pushing your luck a bit with 'Green Giant' in zone 4-5. I think they'd really like to be in zone 6 really even though they are listed as a zone 5 plant.

This is just an idea I've thought all along and I can't tell you why it is or how I came up with this notion. I sure would like to hear otherwise from any of you, however. I just don't think the plant is as hardy as they say it is.


    Bookmark   November 15, 2005 at 9:57PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

what is your soil type? .... watering in sand is a whole lot different than clay .... most conifers like good drainage ... in my pure sand.. i can water just about everyday .. and never drown a conifer ... stick you finger in the soil.. rather than rely on a calender ...

second.. seedlings???? define your term please ... true GG are propagated by cuttings .... if you are planting seedlings ..... then you do NOT have true GG ... it is a cross between GG and whatever pollinated it.. which adds all kinds of variables we cant answer .... without knowing what the cross is ...

once a conifer turns brown .. there is nothing you can do ... it will not 'come back' .... if the entire plant is brown.. it is probably dead ....

HOWEVER ..... GG does turn a bronze color in fall ... are you sure they are an orangish brown [dead] versus a bronze overtone on green ...

i move 40 to 50 conifers each of the last 3 falls ... only lost about 3 ... which i dont attribute to moving as much as a weakling stock plant ... if fall moving was problematic .... i would have lost a lot more ...

but in my zone 5 .... i work under the impression that all transplanting has to be done 6 weeks before ground freeze ... for me that means i quit moving conifer by mid october ... you are a month late on that ... and pushing a zone lower than me ...

IF YOU BOUGHT THESE ... and they were shipped at this time for planting.. then they should be guarantted ... and you should tell the supplier that you believe they are dead ... and that you want them reshipped in the spring ... IT WAS THE SELLERS FAULT FOR SHIPPING THEM AT AN INAPPROPRIATE PLANTING TIME ....

mine are planted in full sun .. and full wind ... i am under the impression that they do not need a protected position ..... i started with peat potted 6 inch plants ... they are now going on 6 feet after three years ... and i lost not one of the 50 ... i do not baby my plants.. i consider them free range ... and they either live or die .... i personally do not consider them a foo foo plant for zone 5 ... but i do respect any other opinion regarding them .. my experience is limited to my slice of heaven ... so take what i say for what it is worth ...

good luck


    Bookmark   November 16, 2005 at 9:28AM
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I have 5 year old Green Giants Dax, here in Northern Illinois. They have been nothing but hardy--never a sign of winter stress, other than the stress applied by bucks rubbing. Deer don't seem to eat them, but a buck can do far more damage in just a matter of minutes.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2005 at 8:36AM
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Just wanted to make a couple of comments. We are in zone 5, and planted 18 5' Thuja "Smargd" several years ago, at our last house. We planted them shortly before Thanksgiving when they went on sale at the local nursery. We are in clay/loam so we watered once a week with a slight trickle for about 20 minutes. Other than a little splaying which occurred the following early spring from an ice storm-which we corrected, we never lost one. They have made a gorgeous hedge.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2005 at 10:19AM
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Thanks, Kevin.


    Bookmark   November 18, 2005 at 11:30AM
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beng(z6 western MD)

Kevin5, are your GGs exposed? Mine are quite exposed & incurred needle-browning from moderate to rather severe from a windy but ~avg-temp, z6b cold-season. It's possible frost-heaving might have hurt them too. And deer did chew them here.

Maybe related to winter stress, but they really didn't start growing this season until late June, well after hot weather had set in.

Otherwise they're healthy.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2005 at 7:24AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

winter browning can be a result of drought striken plants the summer before ... it is not always an issue of winter sun and winter wind only ....

the biggest problem is that you will never know the real reason it happened .... but as they mature it will lessen ...

keep them well watered for a year or 2 .. before they go free range ...


    Bookmark   November 19, 2005 at 10:27AM
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wadet(z8a WA)

Your soil type and average rainfall info would help some.:)

I'd water about every other day and use a 10-10-10 fertilizer for fall.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2005 at 8:02PM
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I would say semi-exposed. We were in a valley so the really brutal winter winds didn't get us, but still exposed to it somewhat. Defintely had no issues with -18F. The amount of bronzing was minimal. I seem to recall the same as you--the growth didnt really fire up until later in the summer, but they really grew when they finally decided to start. They were near a Katsura, so they got plenty of water, which they did not seem to mind at all.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2005 at 12:20PM
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Help! Please

Hi I have a quick question I have been thinking about buying about 32 Thuja 'Green Giant' Trees for a windbreaker see I live in Virginia and we live on top of a mountain Ok my question is where I live it is very windy and I was wanting to plant these around the fence line Not close to the house for a windbreaker will they be able to stand the high winds or will they fall....?

Heather :)

    Bookmark   December 2, 2005 at 1:25AM
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karinl(BC Z8)

Heather, it's always best to start a new thread if you have a new question. Once people figure they know what a thread is about, they tend to check back less often.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2005 at 10:55AM
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For Heather Robbins - I think they'd survive, but not look very good, in that situation.

Better to go with something more tolerant of exposure - for an attractive VA native, try Pinus pungens (Table-mountain Pine). It is broader, more bushy and informal-looking than 'Green Giant', but very attractive all the same.


    Bookmark   December 6, 2005 at 11:43AM
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We planted 12 Green Giant Arborvitae several weeks ago, (late spring/early summer).We have not had to water much because since then we have had a lot of rain. They are planted in a bit of a gully, in an area that tends to have poor drainage. The trees are not showing any signs of new growth, and in fact seem to have developed some dead sections. Also, several have what look like small black flies on them.

From reading earlier posts, I suspect the trees are in an area that is too wet. What would be better: to install a drainage tile up the hill from the trees and divert the water or raise the root ball above ground level. We live in Michigan and get a lot of wind off of Lake Michigan.

Also, should I spray the trees? If so, with what? Thanks in advance for your advice!


    Bookmark   June 9, 2006 at 1:02PM
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I've been lucky, one of the FEW plants I can keep alive with the hoards of deer, the clay soil and the weird weather is the green giant. They are exposed to wind and get full sun, but they seem to be doing OK. I have bought them in the spring every year. I never did fall planting.

    Bookmark   December 26, 2006 at 5:20PM
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I'm in zone 6 and was recommended to plant my Thuja Green Giants in the Spring time. They are doing good! So, i'd say you should of planted in Spring, instead of fall in your zone.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2008 at 4:29PM
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Hello Andreyta,

Check out this thread...

I was informed that the GG would grow in zone 4. First and second batches went directly into the ground and died. (Actually I managed to retrive 4 trees from the 2nd and/or 1st batch(es) and am trying to revive them along with the 3rd batch.) The 3rd batch is being babied for the first couple years, AT LEAST. I am in N.E. Wyoming wich is listed as zone 4, BUT, we have not really had a zone 4 winter around here for quite a few years.

I got some to line our fence line in our back yard (3 sides, S, W, and E. Therefore, my planting sites are just north of a fence, just east of a fence, and just west of a fence respectively. Prevailing winds are from the NW mostly.

The afore mentioned thread is my cry for help, AND all the great suggestions I got from the terrific members of this forum. I am also posting pics on this thread in order to document the progress of the trees. I asked many questions and got many answers. Now, this time, I think (I hope) the trees are doing very well. I've been growing this 3rd batch for 9 months now. Just waiting for all danger of an overnight freeze to dissapate, then they will go back outside untill fall.

I hope this info can help you with YOUR Thuja Green Giants.

Good luck and
have a GREAT DAY!!!
Gene in Wyoming

Here is a link that might be useful: Thuja Green Giant Hybred

    Bookmark   March 7, 2008 at 8:55PM
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I think the Green Giant is a great tree, just don't by it from The trees they send are about 1/4 the size of the tree they show in there sample picture. The Better Business Bureau give them a giant F with a warning. Look them up at the BBB by their phone number. I support the tree. I just don't want anyone to make the same mistake I made. I think the Green Giant is a great tree, just don't by it from The trees they send are about 1/4 the size of the tree they show in there sample picture. The Better Business Bureau give them a giant F with a warning. Look them up at the BBB by their phone number. I support the tree. I just don't want anyone to make the same mistake I made. I am trying to spread the word. Has any one else been cheated by this company. They will not answer email or phone messages after you pay.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2009 at 10:58AM
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I planted 35 TGG's around my yard in December '09 and was kinda worried that they wouldn't make it, but took the seller at his word they would be fine. They were listed as Zones 5-8, but the text of the listing said they had excellent results in Z-9.
They started to bronze before I even got them in the ground. (3 weeks before I was able to get the weather to cooperate)
I put a dedicated drip system in, and timed them to water every other day, 3 times per day @ 10 minutes per. With a mix of clay and sandy loam.
They started to green up after about a month, and now, after 6 months, have started to fill out, and have, all but 1 anyways, grown 6 inches. The one "Runt" was my doing, as I got impatient cutting the pots away from the roots hanging out the holes and just ripped it out, LOL. It has since perked up, and is starting to take off as well, showing 2 inches of growth, and starting to spread.
I used the Osmocote 14-14-14 as directed on half, and evergreen feed stakes on the other half, no difference in growth that I can see.

I plan on my backyard being a Giant Green Box in 5 years.

So far, so good. :D

    Bookmark   May 4, 2010 at 10:10PM
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Hello - I am in Zone5, southwest of Chicago. A developer is building some warehouses behind our neighborhood and after some research it seems like the Thuja Green Giant would be a great option to plant all around the border of my yard as a barrier. I will need quite a few trees to complete this project. Do any of you have any suggestions on buying these trees in the 6' range in bulk. I would like to find a reasonable wholesaler that I can buy direct from. Thanks in advance


    Bookmark   January 27, 2011 at 9:43PM
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Jury is still out, but I think my GGs will survive. I planted 32 18" GGs in late spring of '09 and the winter last year was a extremely bitter one. Last summer I saw a lot of browning and black flies. Treated with an incesticide and used 10-10-10 for fertilizer. The trees on my slope did best, but I did get an average 4" growth. This coming year will be year 2 and I expect them to be established and start a more vigorous growth. Anyway I hope that's the case. I've taken several pictures to document their growth, so it's a science project that is ever evolving. I probably should have planted larger specimens, but it was cost prohibited.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2011 at 10:33AM
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I live in southern Minnesota and planted 8 green giants in 2009 after several of my dark green arborvitae were destroyed by rabbits. For the past 2 years I have fenced them in starting in October to prevent any more rabbit damage. They are growing nicely but bronzing is an issue. Last year I thought they were dead they bronzed so much during the winter but when it warmed up they turned green again. Have the same issue this year, we had about 3 feet of snow all winter and you can tell where the snow line was. They are green below the snow line and heavily bronzed where they were exposed. I do expect them to recover though. The dark green arborvitae that are left always stay nice and green. I would have planted the dark greens again but I could not find ones with any height so I went with the Green Giants as I read they were fast growers. I also apply a thick layer of mulch around the GG trees in the fall to protect the roots since I they are not rated for zone 4. I fertilize using the Ross root feeder and the Ross Evergreen/Acid Loving Root Feeder Refills which are 10-20-20. Will post again about how the GG's fare this year. Ron

    Bookmark   May 5, 2011 at 11:45PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

bronzing is inherent in GG's genetic makeup ....

so if you dont like it.. or cant deal with it.. get rid of them.. and start over ...

i actually like it... for what it is .... rather than looking like your smarsgard .. or emerald greens ...

each child is unique in and of themselves .... as is a spouse ... you get nowhere ... trying to change them into what you want ...


    Bookmark   May 6, 2011 at 8:55AM
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I actually lost two green giants this year- and I have others (all around 60ft) that are heavely brownish. All of these were planted late fall, not sure if that had anything to do with it. the ones that didn't make it turned crispy yellow- no green left on them at all. I'm hoping the others green up this year. weird how some do this and others don't get any brown in them at all.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2011 at 7:09PM
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sorry I meant to say 6ft. ( 60ft I wish). It is strange how some experience no browning at all and others more severe. some are light green some are dark. basically they seem to be allover the map when it comes to green giants.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2011 at 5:46PM
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Mine are now 7ft tall, from 24" in Dec 09. Of the 35, I lost a total of 5, not sure why, they just turned brown and died while the trees on either side of them are thriving. I'll be replacing them this fall.

All in all, I'm VERY pleased so far. In two more years at this rate, They'll start blocking prying eyes!

    Bookmark   June 1, 2011 at 10:56PM
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I posted earlier about bronzing over winter on the Green Giants I planted 3 years ago. Still some bronzing evident but most are turning green with the exception of the leader. The leader on most of them is still brown and dried out except for 2 where the leader turned green. Does anyone know if the leader on the Green Giant appears to be dead will the tree continue to grow in height or should it just be replaced?

Thank You

    Bookmark   June 25, 2011 at 9:10PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

all trees.. of which conifer are..

will replace leaders..

in 2 to 4 years ... remove any excess leaders

it would be foolish to replace them for such


    Bookmark   June 25, 2011 at 9:17PM
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We planted 30 green giants 2-1/2 years ago that were 2'-3' tall at time of planting. They are now 7' plus and seem to be well established. Two of the trees, however, are showing signs of browning. We live in north central Florida and have sandy well draining soil. We had an extremely hot summer. I called Thuga Gardens, where we got the trees from, and was told to put Black Cow composted manure around the base of the trees and give them plenty of water.
Has anyone had a similar problem that was corrected ? And if so, how? Can Thugas be saved once they show sighns of stress?

    Bookmark   November 10, 2011 at 3:04PM
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gardener365(5b Illinois USA)

keep watering them and if they don't make it you'll just simply need to find replacements.


    Bookmark   November 10, 2011 at 4:18PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

there is normal winter bronzing on my GG... up here in the great white north .... i am presuming that is not what you are talking about.. a picture would sure help define such ...

but.. with evergreens.. as the name implies.. they are always green .. and i swear.. even for a period after they are dead.. up here.. that can be nearly a year ...

if yours definitely are showing a TOTAL dulling .. you can just tell they are 'off' .. then i would suggest they are not long for this world.. if not already dead ... and they may stay sickly looking.. until the heat returns next spring/summer.. when they will finally turn all brown ...

if you are saying.. there is sporadic brown spots.. we need a picture ... check out the link ...

only time will tell ... but presume the worst..

if in fact they are dead.. or near dead... then the manure will not do anything.. and in fact.. may hasten it all ...

i appreciate your searching for old posts.. but this topic would have been better served in anew post.. with its own searchable title.. because it has to do with potential death. rather than this topic title.. of just planted...

regardless.. post wherever it makes you happy ...

good luck

oh.. BTW... i would not go too large on replacements... large transplants can be very tricky to get going.. and a smaller one.. will get moving faster and easier.. and 'catch up' ... rather than struggle and linger for years ... in my world.. warped as it is.. a few off size plants.. lends an interesting variation on the group.. rather than requiring soldier like perfection ....

here is a pic of mine.. which were 4 inch rooted
sticks 11 years ago ... they dont grow quite as fast up here.. especially with 4 months of frozen ground

Here is a link that might be useful: link

    Bookmark   November 11, 2011 at 11:14AM
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