Degroot’s Spire vs Emerald Green Arborvitae: What Is The Difference Between The Two Cedars?


Privacy plants have become an indispensable attribute of every yard these days. Everyone wants to have a cozy spot where they can rest from annoying neighbors and the eyes of passers-by.

Arborvitaes have, thanks to their characteristics, taking first place among hedge plants. Let me introduce you to some of the best representatives of these plants – Degroot’s Spire and Emerald Green Arborvitae.

Almost my entire yard is surrounded by Emerald Green arborvitaes. I have been growing these wonderful plants for many years and could talk about them for a very long time. But in short, this variety came from Europe and its other name is Thuja occidentalis Smaragd. It is widely used for hedges and its popularity has no limits.

Degroot’s Spire Arborvitae on the other hand was obtained earlier but has not become as common. There are many advantages of this variety that are not appreciated, and that is what we will talk about here.

Degroot’s Spire Arborvitae Emerald Green Arborvitae
USDA Hardiness zone 3-8 3-7
Mature height 15-20′ (4.5-6 m) 15-20′ (4.5-6 m)
Mature width 3-4′ (0.9-1.2 m) 4-6′ (1.2-1.8 m)
Growth rate slow fast
Light exposure full sun, partial shade full sun, partial shade
Soil moist, well-drained moist, well-drained
Soil pH 5.5-7.0 5.5-7.0
Watering Once a week in a drought Once a week in a drought
Diseases fungus fungus
Pests insects, mites insects, mites
Degroots Spire vs Emerald Green Arborvitae
Degroot’s Spire and Emerald Green Arborvitae

Degroot’s Spire has twisted branches

The first thing worth mentioning is the twisted branches. Degroot’s Spire has branches that are twisted quite a lot, which looks very fascinating.

As a result, it is a very interesting-looking variety. The twisted branches create a unique pattern. The outline of the plant is not smooth and very textured.

Emerald Green is also slightly twisted, especially in the middle and lower tier. Still, this variety cannot offer the same look as its competitor. The outline is almost smooth and only occasional small irregularities are noticeable.

If you want to use arborvitae as a specimen plant then Degroot’s Spire looks better for that purpose.

The pattern, on the other hand, is not very important for a hedge, so Emerald Green is better suited for that. It also has other qualities that make it best as a screen plant.

Emerald Green grows faster

Yes, it is. Emerald Green is a very vigorous plant, certainly not as vigorous as the wild Thuja occidentalis, but still.

Emerald Green has an annual growth rate of 1 foot. It mostly grows in height. This plant grows very slowly in width (no more than 4 inches per year).

At the same time, Degroot’s Spire grows 6 inches a year in height and even less in width. Of course, you can speed up its growth rate by applying a lot of fertilizer and watering. But if you do so, it will become weak and fragile and it can be damaged by disease or snow.

So if you want a high screen quickly you have to choose Emerald Green. If you want a low hedge or a specimen plant, Degroot’s Spire is your choice.

Degroot’s Spire more narrow

The proportions of the two plants are also different. Degroot’s Spire has a more elongated shape. It grows mostly upward and very slowly in width. At maturity, its width does not exceed 4 feet.

Emerald Green is noticeably wider. It grows faster than its competitor in width. By maturity, it can reach 6 feet or more in width. If you want the plant to be even wider, cut it back every year at the desired height and it will expand faster.

You will have to plant fewer Emerald Green arborvitaes if you create a hedge. Because the distance between the plants will be greater. They will close up more quickly and make a dense screen. If for this purpose, you choose Degroot’s Spire then you need more plants to cover the same length or you have to wait much longer for the plants to create a screen.

Degroot’s Spire, on the other hand, is better suited as a vertical accent in a conifer garden arrangement.

DeGroot’s Spire tolerate drought better

Neither Degroot’s Spire nor Emerald Green can be called drought tolerant. But still, there is a significant difference between them in this respect.

The first is that Degroot’s Spire can be grown in the 8 USDA hardiness zone. While Emerald Green should be planted no further south than zone 7. But to plant Degroot’s Spire in zone 8, you must provide plenty of shade.

As for Emerald Green, even in zone 7, it will not be easy. You will have to water it a lot. In drought, you need to water at least once or twice a week, maybe more, depending on how bad the heat is.

Degroot’s Spire, on the other hand, is less likely to need watering. When the plant is rooted, it needs watering once every 7 to 10 days if it’s not raining.

The further north you go, the more equal these plants are in terms of watering. But still, for the first 1-2 years, don’t let the soil near the tree dry out more than an inch.

The slightly better drought tolerance makes Degroot’s Spire more suitable for growing in pots.

Emerald Green has multiple trunks

Both of these plants form several trunks during growth. This is definitely a disadvantage because in winter heavy snow can break the arborvitae. This can even happen in strong winds.

So, Degroot’s Spire creates fewer additional trunks than Emerald Green. Also, Degroot’s Spire holds its shape better and doesn’t fall apart as often as its competitor.

To avoid this situation, you should occasionally prune the young shoots which are growing upright, leaving only one central shoot. If it does fall apart then you need to tie the trunks together with rope.

Similarities between Degroot’s Spire and Emerald Green Arborvitae

First of all, these are two columnar plants that are widely used to create hedges. They have dense bright green needles that hardly change color in winter.

To thrive you must provide them with good soil. Loose and well-drained soil are best. Add 10-20% quality compost to the garden soil when planting.

Both of these plants need watering. I have already touched on this subject in more detail above. In general, water them regularly for the first few years and always keep the soil slightly moist. But you also don’t want to over-water the arborvitae, as their roots will start to rot in the swampy soil.

Light is also important. Provide them with at least 6 hours of direct sun per day to get good results. In zones 7-8, the partial shade would be an advantage. In full shade, the thujas will be loose and not very pretty in appearance.

To get a tall hedge in a short time you need to feed your trees. I always use a slow-release fertilizer with equal parts nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus. They are very convenient because you have to apply them once a year and never think about it again.

And finally, don’t forget about pests. Some insects can damage arborvitae. Unfortunately, this happens more often than I would like. So always check your plants for pests or be proactive like I do spray plants with remedies.

Igor Viznyy

Hi friends, I have been growing plants for many years and love doing it. You can find more information on the page About Author.

Recent Posts