Can Emerald Green Arborvitae Grow in Shade?

When you think of classic and refined landscaping, one tree often comes to mind: the arborvitae. Towering and graceful, this variety of evergreen is perfect for creating a lush backdrop in any garden. And while many people opt for the standard green arborvitae, there’s another option that’s just as eye-catching: Emerald Green Arborvitae. With its bright green needles and striking form, this tree is sure to turn heads!

Can Emerald Green Arborvitae Grow in Shade?

Can Emerald Green Arborvitae Grow in Shade

Although Emerald Green Arborvitae is typically thought of as a sun-loving plant, it’s one of the few evergreens that can tolerate partial shade. When in full sun, this plant thrives and does amazingly well.  It can grow fast, manifested by its full, bushy growth. However, in a shady spot, Emerald Green Arborvitae will still grow—albeit more slowly.

Simply said, the more sunlight it receives, the more Emerald Green Arborvitae will grow; but it’s not a plant that will die if it doesn’t get enough sun. It may not be as lush and full in shady areas, but it will look great.

Ideal Growing Conditions for Emerald Green Arborvitae

Can Emerald Green Arborvitae Grow in Shade

Native to the eastern Northern US region, this hardy tree is known to thrive in USDA zones 2 – 8. Its versatility and ability to tolerate a variety of growing conditions are what makes Emerald Green Arborvitae so popular. This hardy tree is relatively low-maintenance and is mostly used for privacy hedges or living fences.

If you treat it right an Emerald Green Arborvitae can live up to 25 years.

If you have one at home (or thinking of taking care of this plant), these are the best conditions to provide for your Emerald Green Arborvitae:

Light Requirements

Emerald Green Arborvitae thrives in sunny conditions and can tolerate partial sun. For it to grow beautifully and healthy, it’s best to give it at least four to six hours of direct sunlight per day. In areas where it’s mostly shady, or for those growers struggling to find a sunny spot for their plants, supplementing with artificial light such as grow lights can help.

Although this plant can tolerate shade and may still survive despite the lack of light, it will not grow as quickly and may not be as lush in areas with less sunlight. It may also be more susceptible to pests and diseases.

Soil Requirements

When it comes to Emerald Green Arborvitae soil requirements, there are a few things to keep in mind. This evergreen prefers well-drained soil that is moist but not soggy. It’s well-known to thrive no matter the soil conditions, but is known to do best in neutral to alkaline soil, with a pH range of 6 to 8. Loamy soils are also preferred, but can surprisingly do well even in clay soils.


This relatively easy to care for tree does not need much in terms of fertilizers. A simple yearly application of a balanced fertilizer will suffice. However, if you want your plant to thrive, you may need to give it a little extra boost. You can do this by top dressing the soil around the base of the tree with compost or manure every few years. This will provide the Emerald Green Arborvitae with the extra nutrients it needs to stay healthy and vigorous.

A slow-release fertilizer is best to maintain its vibrant colors, and water it in well after applying. The perfect time to apply the fertilizer is during the spring before new growth begins.


Can Emerald Green Arborvitae Grow in Shade

This tough plant grows quickly but does not require pruning, except for the occasional trimming of leafy branches to promote a dense, compact shape. When pruning your Emerald Green Arborvitae, it is important to do so carefully and selectively. These shrubs can be pruned into a variety of shapes and sizes, but over-pruning can damage the plant. For best results, prune in the early spring before new growth begins. This will give the plant time to recover and fill in any bare spots.

Watering Needs

Despite being hardy and versatile, Emerald Green Arborvitae still needs regular watering to stay healthy. In general, water your plant deeply once a week during the summertime. You can tell if it needs water by checking the soil moisture; when the top inch of soil is dry, it’s time for a good watering. Similar to other plants, be careful not to overwater to prevent rotting.

During the growing season, you may need to water this plant more frequently if it’s located in a hot, dry area. In the wintertime, you can reduce watering to once every two weeks or so. Once the roots have become established, the plant will be more tolerant of dry spells.

Can Emerald Green Arborvitae Grow in Shade: Final Thoughts

The Emerald Green Arborvitae is a beautiful evergreen that makes an excellent addition to any garden. With its dense, dark green foliage and upright growth habit, it provides a striking contrast to other plants in the landscape.

In addition, the Emerald Green Arborvitae is relatively low maintenance and can tolerate a wide range of growing conditions, and can tolerate a little bit of shade every once in a while.

As a result, it is an ideal plant for both beginner and experienced gardeners alike. Whether planted as a specimen tree or used as a hedge, the Emerald Green Arborvitae is sure to add beauty and appeal to any landscape.

Related Article: How to Save Brown Arborvitae in Summer?