Thuja occidentalis Columna - Caring for and cutting the pillar huja

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Thuja occidentalis

Thuja occidentalis Columna is a fascinating plant that prefers to be used as a hedge plant in many gardens due to its dense, evergreen growth. Characteristic of the Tree of Life is its columnar shape, which tapers towards the top. Due to this peculiarity, the plant received the trivial nickname "column huja". Robust and hardy, the exotic plant defies the cold season in our latitudes. When it comes to cutting the conifers are frugal and forgive many rookie mistakes.


With its upward-aspiring columnar shape and short, protruding branches, the coniferous species is an interesting plant. The Heckenkonifere belongs to the evergreen plants and can reach in their original form in North America an immense height of up to 20 m. The cultivated form Thuja occidentalis Columna makes it still a proud 8 m. This circumstance should be taken into account when choosing the location. A positive message for passionate hobby gardeners: The Occidental Tree of Life is growing slowly. The annual growth per year is only about 15 cm.
  • full sun locations are tolerated
  • in partial shade, the column huja feels well
  • Urban climate does not damage the plants
  • pay attention to underground pipes and cables
Due to their unusual shape and the densely arranged, dark green foliage, the plants plant a dense hedge planted in groups, the year-round from the eyes of curious off. Create striking, majestic accents with solitary planted conifers that form the entrance to your garden. Shady places can affect the growth of the tree of life. The height of growth is less in light deficiency, and the density of the leaves and shoots suffer. Young trees can get used to dark places rather than older plants. For hedges full shady places are unsuitable.
Caution is advised in small children: Because all parts of cypress-like plant are poisonous. Just a short skin contact is enough to cause a strong itching and eczema. If you want to cultivate Thuja occidentalis Columna as a hedge, you should take into account legal requirements, such as the minimum distance to neighboring properties. Depending on the size of the plants, it is difficult to relocate them at a later date. The immediate proximity to larger deciduous and coniferous trees does not disturb the North American ornamental plants.


A good soil contributes significantly to the development and resistance of the column greenhouse. The plant is a shallow root, only a few main strands penetrate deeper layers of earth. Older specimens are thus able to absorb moisture in extreme drought conditions. The following properties should be present in the substrate:
  • permeable
  • profound
  • humous
  • damp
The ph value of the soil plays a minor role. An acidic to alkaline soil is equally accepted. Problems can arise with a strongly compacted substrate. The growth of the roots suffers, the important supply of oxygen and water can stagnate. When planting the planting area, it makes sense to prepare the soil sufficiently. With the aid of small pebbles or globules of expanded clay, they can permanently loosen up the substrate.


The inorganic material prevents the soil from sticking together, which does not affect the regular gardening and care of the plants. In the first 2 to 3 years of life, the columnar tree of life is suitable for cultivation in the tub. Access traditional potting soil here, which will enhance you with humus, sand and clay.

to water

The column huja needs some moisture in the soil to develop its dark green foliage. Like all evergreen plants, the root ball of Thuja occidentalis Columna must not dry out in winter. A common mistake is to leave the plants completely to themselves in the cold season. In freshly planted and young trees, this can quickly lead to dehydration. While older plants can supply themselves almost with water themselves, provided that the soil offers the right conditions for it, you should pour younger plants regularly.
  • is poured year-round
  • In winter, water is supplied on frost-free days
  • pour in the cold season with a smaller amount
  • Calcareous water does not damage the conifers
  • do not pour at lunchtime on hot summer days
Casting occurs as soon as the top substrate layer feels dry and crumbly. To be on the safe side, you can check with your finger when the optimal time for casting has come.Like dryness, waterlogging can cause considerable damage to the Thuja. If the subterranean plant parts are permanently exposed to larger amounts of water, this promotes infestation with ascomycetes.
The pathogens settle on the roots and decompose them from within. A strong, musty odor is a clear indication of root rot. There is no cure for this disease. Protect the column duckweed by regularly mulching the soil and more often in smaller quantities.
Tip: In a solitary planted Thuja occidentalis Columna, a "casting margin" has been proven. This facilitates the irrigation of large plants.


The plant with the columnar growth has a weak to moderate strong growth. In order to promote this, you should provide the tree of life from April to August with nutrients. For example, work compost in the ground in spring and late summer. Horn shavings and brushwood have also proven themselves. Bark mulch is ideal for the crop. The material warms the soil in winter, prevents the soil from drying too quickly and at the same time supplies the plant with important nutrients and minerals.
Alternatively, you can fall back on a universal liquid or long-term fertilizer from the trade. Reduce the amount stated on the packaging. An overdose of fertilizer makes itself felt only after weeks. Almost always the leaves and shoots show a yellowish discoloration. In such a case you should stop the fertilizer completely for about 3 months and wait until the plant has sufficiently recovered. From the end of August is no longer fertilized. At this time, Thuja occidentalis Columna prepares for the winter and is no longer able to use the nutrients supplied sufficient.


The pillar tree of life Columna can be easily multiplied by cuttings. Between August to mid-September is a suitable time for this action.
  • pick young, not lignified shoots
  • Carefully tear them off the mother plant
  • Cuttings should have a length between 8 to 12 cm
  • Remove secondary shoots and lower pairs of leaves

Thuja occidentalis

A piece of bark from the main plant should be preserved. This "heel", which should be about 1 cm long, facilitates the rooting of the cuttings. 2 pairs of leaves at the top of the shoot are completely sufficient to ensure the important photosynthesis. The length and number of foliage can cost a lot of energy, which unnecessarily delays rooting.
  • Immediately insert thuja cuttings into a lean substrate
  • if present, wet the "heel" with a root preparation
  • Blend of potting soil, peat and sand has been proven
  • Shoots should be inserted 2/3 deep into the soil
  • keep it evenly moist

The location should be bright, but not sunny. Direct sunlight causes the substrate to dry out quickly and stresses the cuttings unnecessarily. Pour moderately, so that no waterlogging can occur. In order to accelerate the growth of the roots, the ambient temperature should be between 18° - 22° C. If these conditions are not available outdoors, you can reproduce them in the greenhouse or on the windowsill. For a short time, the air humidity can be increased directly around the cuttings by making a kind of improvised greenhouse. For this purpose, small wooden rods are attached to the edge of the vessel. A perforated foil ensures that the moisture of the substrate can not evaporate.

The first years of life of the cuttings

Under ideal conditions and with the right care, the young plants have a fine root network after about 2 months. As soon as new leaves and shoots appear, the formation of the roots was successful. Alternatively, try to carefully pull the cuttings out of the jar. If a fine root network already exists, you will notice this in the resistance. Thuja occidentalis Columna can be used all year round in the garden. However, lovers of the Pillar Tree of Life go another way to get strong and healthy plants.
  • After rooting, place the cuttings in separate buckets
  • Fertilize regularly from March
  • Transfer plants in warm spring together with the container to a sunny spot
  • repot into a larger container in late summer
Repeat this procedure the following year and plant the plants only in the 3rd or 4th year of life. In this way, the North American ornamental plants can develop optimally.


The "tree of life", as the columnar huja is also commonly referred to, is a robust plant. Specimens with a well-developed root system and strong shoots can be implemented throughout the year in the garden. In winter, this measure takes place on frost-free days. Good conditions for a powerful sprouting in the spring have plants that have been planted in early autumn. The following steps have proved successful in a solitary planting:
  • Planting hole should be twice the circumference of the root ball of the plant
  • Earth excavation with clay, sand and humus mix
  • a few handfuls of compost in the planting hole
  • Loosen the surrounding soil
  • Insert column venturi and fill cavities with substrate
  • pour vigorously

Thuja occidentalis

For the design of a hedge you should do something different. Plan that the columnar tree of life can reach a width of up to 1.5 meters. Use slats and barriers to secure the planned area. In this way, you get a first impression of the course of the hedge. You can easily make changes at this stage and correct mistakes.
  • Dig up the bedding area generously
  • minimum depth should be 30 cm
  • Floor provided with a drainage
Depending on the size of the plants and the desired density, between 2 - 4 plants per square meter are set. If the distance is too long, it takes a long time until the hedge is opaque. In the first year, it is possible to transplant individual shrubs without much effort.

To cut

The popular Heckenkoniferen plants are cut tolerant, but there are a few special features to note. From a radical pruning into old wood, the plants recover only very slowly. The shape cut is usually made towards the end of winter, just before the plant sprouts. The fresh shoots and buds quickly cover the interfaces.
  • only cut young shoots
  • Old wood does not drive anymore
  • received small scaly tips
  • Dead and transversely growing shoots can be cut all year round
  • Rejuvenate the shape towards the top
Do not leave the column trees to themselves completely. The weight in the shoots increases with increasing plant height and makes them prone to wind thunderstorms. A few inches a year you should cut back the plants. If the shingled green tips of the woody shoots are completely removed, they will not work anymore. The bald spots are covered over time by the side shoots. You can take advantage of this fact and bring the pillar huja into extraordinary shapes. Begin with this "education" as early as possible, so as not to lose sight of anything.
Tip: The sap of Thuja occidentalis Columna is aggressive. For this reason, it makes sense to use gloves for direct care.


Cold and frost in our latitudes do not interest the North American plants. Thuja occidentalis Columna can easily survive two-digit minus temperatures of up to -30° C. The biggest danger in winter is not death by freezing, but a drying up of the roots. A relevant care measure of the pillar thuja is the supply of water. Young and freshly planted plants must not dry out even in the cold season.
  • do not fertilize during the winter months
  • regularly check the moisture in the substrate
  • if necessary, apply bark mulch or brushwood

Thuja occidentalis

Conifers in the bucket are an exception and should be sufficiently prepared before the onset of the first frost. This is done by wrapping the vessel with burlap or a special fleece. In this way you prevent the substrate in the pot from completely freezing and damaging the roots. In the warm spring you can remove the protection again.
The columnar tree Columna is an interesting plant. Many gardeners use the advantages of the tree of life and use it as a hardy and easy-care hedge plant. Due to its characteristic, columnar shape, the plant enchants even smaller front gardens and entrance areas. The cut tolerance of Thuja occidentalis Columna must be considered with some drawbacks. Too low-cut waste wood does not drive at the top anymore. This can have a negative effect on the growth habit.

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