Care of Cedar Trees

Cedars are evergreen trees originating from the Mediterranean and western Himalayas. Strong wood and aromatic qualities have made cedar trees popular for use in building construction, furniture making and aromatherapy. With proper care, cedar trees also work well for landscaping purposes, providing year-round color and fragrance.

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Site Selection

Many species of cedar will grow more than 70 feet tall, so avoid planting young trees under electric lines. Plant cedars at least five feet from other trees to ensure that they will have enough room to grow. Also avoid planting cedars on top of buried pipes, cables or septic drains, as the roots of the tree could affect these systems. Choose a sunny spot for your cedar tree. If planted in shade, it will grow more slowly than if set in full sun. Be sure the location is not in an area that experiences flooded conditions for more than two consecutive weeks a year, as cedars do not like to stand in water. Soil should drain well to keep roots from becoming waterlogged.


Keep the roots of the tree submerged in water until you are ready to place it in the ground. Cedar roots may be left in water for up to one week, but any longer may lead to root rot. Dig a hole 6 to 8 inches in diameter. Spread the roots of the tree carefully with your fingers and place the roots into the hole. Pack the soil around the roots to keep them from drying out. Add 2 to 3 inches of mulch around the trunk to help the tree retain nutrients and moisture.

Watering and Fertilizing

Water newly planted cedar trees after planting and keep the soil evenly moist for at least the first month. This will help the tree become established. Although cedars will tolerate drought, you should water established trees during especially dry periods. Avoid over-watering, as this may cause the roots to rot.

Although cedars do not require fertilization, they respond well to feeding. For the first three years, sprinkle granular fertilizer under the tree out to 1 foot past the drip line. Avoid applying fertilizer to the trunk as this may cause damage to the bark.


Remove broken or dead branches with sharp, sterilized shears. If the tree has grown too tall, prune in the spring or early summer, but do not remove more than a quarter of the tree’s height. Buds for the following year’s growth begin to form in late summer, so avoid pruning after mid-July. If you remove newly formed buds, the tree will use excessive energy to produce new buds and will be more susceptible to damage during the winter months.

Protection from Animals

Deer and rabbits are attracted to cedar trees. Deer will eat cedar leaves in the winter and rabbits may eat cedar seedlings in the fall, winter or spring. Set up a wire enclosure around young cedar trees until the branches grow out of reach of deer. As the tree grows, you may need to increase the size of the wire enclosure.


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