Can I Plant Arborvitae in Large Tubs?


Arborvitae's common names are white cedar and American arborvitae. Arborvitae trees are versatile and easy-to-grow trees with evergreen foliage and a compact shape that makes them very appealing for use as a hedge or screen. Several varieties of this tree exist, including dwarf varieties that are perfect for container culture. Even a non-dwarf variety can be grown in a large tub, as it will only grow as large as the pot allows the root zone to expand.

Preparing the Tub

  • Containers these days come in all sorts of materials, such as concrete, wood, plastic or ceramic. Position your tub where you want it to stay, as it could be quite heavy to move once it's filled with soil and a small tree, depending on the material. Mix your own potting soil. Mix one part garden soil with one part builder's sand and one part compost. The sand will ensure drainage, the compost will ensure additional nutrients and the garden soil will provide important microorganisms to boost plant growth. If you don't have a garden or a yard from which to gather soil, use a quality potting soil in its place and amend it with the other additives just the same.

Potting the Tree

  • Remove the young tree from its pot or burlap. Loosen the root ball a bit by hand. Fill the container with your soil mixture and wet it before filling the container. Wetting it allows you to get a better idea of its volume. Put a layer of coarse gravel or shards of old clay pots in the bottom of the large container to facilitate drainage. Put some of the wet potting mixture in the bottom of the pot. Hold the young tree with one hand at the level it should sit in the pot and fill in the area around it with wet soil.

Tree Care

  • Place the pot in full sun or part shade. Arborvitae performs best in full sun where its foliage can fully develop; otherwise, it takes on a leggy appearance that isn't very attractive. Plants and trees grown in containers need more frequent watering than those planted in the ground, so keep tabs on the soil moisture and water when the first inch of depth is dry to the touch. Providing a layer of mulch on top of the soil will conserve soil moisture and keep the roots cool.


  • Arborvitae is commonly used to create a hedge or screen, and potted arborvitae will also serve well for such a purpose. You may also place potted arborvitae along a walkway or short driveway as accent pieces, while a single dwarf variety may serve as the centerpiece of a container containing multiple ornamental plants on a patio or the front stoop.

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