Can You Grow Thuja Occidentalis in the Shade?


Thuja occidentalis is an evergreen tree, commonly known as eastern arborvitae, American arborvitae or white cedar. While it is moderately shade tolerant, it performs better in a sunny location.

Shade tolerance

  • Thuja occidentalis can be planted in partial shade. However, with too much shade, growth slows, color fades and the tree becomes thin. For a better outcome, plant in an area that receives at least three hours of sun per day.

Varieties of Thuja Occidentalis

  • Pointed, upright varieties of Thuja occidentalis, will generally withstand more shade than others. Two cultivars, "Holmstrup" and "Wintergreen," have proved more shade-tolerant than most.

Other Shade-Tolerant Evergreens

  • Although, Thuja occidentalis is more shade-tolerant than the popular leyland cypress (x cupressocyparis leylandii), there are other evergreen conifers that tolerate shade better. Among them are hemlocks (Tsuga spp.) and yews (Taxus spp.).

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  • Photo Credit evergreen image by Joann Cooper from Sprin in the woods image by Calin Tatu from
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