Author Topic: how to bonsai arborvitae (thuja plicata)  (Read 3893 times)


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how to bonsai arborvitae (thuja plicata)
« on: June 04, 2013, 01:46 PM »
I just purchased a thuja plicata (arborvitae) & since it has unusual fan type limbs, how is the best way to bonsai as to root removal, soil (basic or free draining) as well as the best way to prune & style. The tree is 1' tall from the base in the nursery pot to the top of the tree.
Thanks for any assistance.


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Re: how to bonsai arborvitae (thuja plicata)
« Reply #1 on: June 06, 2013, 04:00 PM »

It seems that you're basically asking how to do bonsai, a tall order.

I suggest that you do some reading on the internet and books. Good sites are and as well as others. Joining a club is the best way to learn. You may be able to borrow bonsai books from the public library.

Repotting and rootpruning - you don't indicate your area which is important however it may be too late to repot. Repotting/root pruning are normally done in early spring (again depending on area).

Training and styling - I have not grown thuja but it is an evergreen and the tree cannot be defoliated. Foliage must be left on the branches or else the branch will die. I don't think it's a good species for a new person. They do not backbud and the trunks are slow to thicken.

So maybe you can read up or join a club and learn about the bonsai process. Repot your thuja next spring and let it grow and find an easier plant such as juniper, cotoneaster, Chinese elm, hedge maple and lots of others.

In a few years you can come back to the Thuja. Start learning! Joining a club is best.


Leo in NE Illinois

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Re: how to bonsai arborvitae (thuja plicata)
« Reply #2 on: June 12, 2013, 12:06 PM »
Bonsai techniques for Thuja occidentalis & plicata, Arborvitae, are similar to techniques for Chamaecyparis obtusa, Hinoki Cypress, the two genera are related, so the similarity is not coincidence. Many books and web pages cover Hinoki, and a few books and web pages cover Thuja. Nick Lenz book on Collecting Bonsai from the Wild, (Stone Lantern Press) has a chapter on Thuja occidentalis. T. plicata will require roughly similar treatment. Like augustine said, a complete answer would be thousands of words. Hit the web, hit Stone Lantern Press, check out books from your local public library. There is a lot of information out there.

Also, check to see if you have a local bonsai club. Local members will know what refinements in culture needed to keep Thuja healthy in your local climate.