Southern Red Cedar

carolbarrel07January 7, 2008

I heard that southern red cedar is drought tolerant. So I'm thinking of planting a couple as a natural screen between my yard and the next year, to obstruct my view of other houses in the 'hood. How tall do these trees grow at maturity? Do they need lots of pruning in first few years? What is the spread of each tree, approx? How far apart should I plant them? And are they generally considered good choices for natural screens? (I've used leyland cypress in the past but am tired of them.)

What is a good source to buy southern red cedar trees in metro Atlanta and when are they "in season", i.e. plentiful supply for sale out there? TIA for any tips!

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The botanical name is Juniperus virginiana and the possible mature height is 40' to 50' tall and the width is 8' to 15' wide (although they typically don't get that big).

You don't need to prune them at all. You'd probably want to plant them at least 10 feet apart in order to allow for eventual maturity.

It is a native tree and does provide food and shelter for birds and other native critters.

I do think a more natural looking screen would include other plants such as Wax Myrtle (an evergreen tree) and perhaps another tree such as a flowering redbud, dogwood or holly.

Call around to nurseries for available (a real nursery, not Home Depot). If they don't have it, you are early enough in the season that they could order some. It's a nice tree, I think and quite under used in the landscape.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2008 at 6:17AM
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Actually SOUTHERN redcedar and EASTERN redcedar are different species.

Southern redcedar (J. silicicola) is native to the florida and just a wee bit of the extreme coastal areas of GA and SC. My understanding is that is isn't as hardy as the other. University of Florida, (some facts they hav published are often deemed dated or incorrect) lists hardiness zones 8a-10b whereas it lists Eastern Redcedar (2a-9b).

Eastern redcedar (J. viginiana) is native to metro atlanta and beyond. That is what you are more likely to find offered here.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2008 at 12:50PM
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Oh and I forgot to answer some of the questions.
These are rather unpredictable as to how they will look in maturity. Eastern redcedar tends to be reliably pyramidal in youth but in maturity, I have seen that have an actualy canopy like a shade tree and wide spread. The shape is not symmetrical in maturity either as they take on a windswept appearance usually. The bottom line is for the next 15-20 years it will make a fine screen so long as it isn't shaded out. If shaded it will drop branches and you'll be able to see through it. As usual I suggest mixing it up and giving these plenty of room to develop into a pleasing form. Staggered rows would be a better idea than a straight hedge.

These are NEVER in plentiful supply in retail garden centers. They are a rare find although some tree farms grow them. I know of at least one.

They can look a little scraggly and less formal than more popular screen trees like leyland cypress, norway spruce and nelly r stevens holly and japanese cedar. About like a hemlock.

Up close they have a nice aroma and reportedly repel skeeters. They hold their color well year round and tolerant to weather extremes. Transplanting can be tricky they have a tap root. This could be why you don't see more of them in the garden centers.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2008 at 1:00PM
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GAAlan(z7b(on map) 8(imby) Atlanta)

I love our native redcedar!! It does come in a myriad of shapes and sizes, and in my mind I've never seen one I did not like. They are also dioecious, meaning plants are either male or female. Males can look a little less presentable than females when their cones enlarge for pollen release, but still not enough to be a real bother. Some individual female trees are very attractive covered in berries(cones). They look blue from a distance. A point for Esh too, I had a big flock of waxwings visit a particularly fruitful tree in my yard and it was quite a thrill! Perhaps my favorite aspect of a cedar is how you never have to clean up after them. No leaves/needles/cones to remove! Can you tell I like them?! Heres a picture of one my nine total, from a couple years ago......

There is one caveat about these trees I almost forgot to mention, they are hosts for cedar/apple rust which can be devastating to certain species like apple and hawthorn. Its not a problem for me, but do keep it in mind. All my bragging and forgot one very big "if".........still I like'em!!

    Bookmark   January 8, 2008 at 7:03PM
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girlgroupgirl(8 ATL)

Hi Carol!!

It's me "Flower Lady" on the Buzz!! Here I'm "girlgroupgirl".
Just wanted to say hi!

    Bookmark   January 8, 2008 at 11:01PM
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That definitely is a nice looking one. It has great color too.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2008 at 7:07PM
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That one is HUGE, Alan. I like the slight "shaggy" look to it. They are grown as Christmas trees, I think. Sometimes I order them from the Georgia Forestry Commission, but you have to order early because it is one of the first types to run out. You can get 10 for $20 but they are only about a foot tall.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2008 at 8:39PM
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I'm also considering 4-6 Eastern Red Cedars as a screen for my neighbor's outbuilding (which is prominent in the view from every window in the back of our house)---what would be the choice for those in the know: Cryptomeria of Eastern Red Cedar?

    Bookmark   January 12, 2008 at 11:24AM
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Native eastern red cedar trumps non-native cryptomeria for me every time.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2008 at 6:00PM
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Japanese Cedar (aka Cryptomeria Japonica) can be a nice tree too. It is more reliably pyramidal in youth but again, in maturity it is anybody's guess.

My complaints are that for any decent size they are incredibly expensive and most importantly they bronze in the winter time, some of which tend to look rather dead. :-)!

I planted one in my front yard as the "corner of the house" tree. If I could do it over, I'd plant something else there but it is satisfactory. Mine has never severely browned out in the winter.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2008 at 9:43AM
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i have a few in my yard. the oldest is over 50 years and extremely large. it's about 40 feet but would be taller if not for the top constantly cracking and shattering from the weight of the branches yet it does fine. i'm making a meditation area out of the inside - the spread of the limbs are huge.

they'll make a nice privacy fence for the first 15 years then the more dominant ones will start chocking out the smaller. you can expect to lose 1 in every two in 25 years so you will have to thin them around this time - after 25 years they seem to hit a second growth spurt. that's a long way down the road though and the main fact is that they make a beautiful landscape tree.

i love mine. their wood is perfect for a fire giving off a great smoke with a smell that's unmistakable. cedars are known as air purifiers and do repell mosquitos to a certain extent. i never have a problem with mosquitos in my yard but walk into my neighbors and they try to carry you away. they also soak up sitting water quickly.

if you learn a good way to transplant them without losing half you could make a fortune - even seedlings are extremely difficult to transplant. growing from seed takes average of two years to get it to germinate. cloning is the best way of propagating the eastern red cedar i know. i've got fifty small clones right now - am planning on clonin more. how many do you need? they're free to a good home but won't be ready till summer (june). i'll be leaving the state here shortly for a few months but will be back in time for the savannah music festival.


    Bookmark   January 25, 2008 at 8:24PM
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