The Tree Center


Rheingold Arborvitae

Thuja occidentalis 'Rheingold'

1 Review

Rheingold Arborvitae

Thuja occidentalis 'Rheingold'

1 Review


How are the heights measured?

All tree, and nothin' but the tree! We measure from the top of the soil to the top of the tree; the height of the container or the root system is never included in our measurements.

What is a gallon container?

Nursery containers come in a variety of different sizes, and old-school nursery slang has stuck. While the industry-standard terminology is to call the sizes "Gallon Containers", that doesn't exactly translate to the traditional liquid "gallon" size we think of. You'll find we carry young 1-gallons, up to more mature 7-gallons ranging anywhere from 6 inches to 6ft.

How does the delivery process work?

All of our orders ship via FedEx Ground! Once your order is placed online, our magic elves get right to work picking, staging, boxing and shipping your trees. Orders typically ship out within 2 business days. You will receive email notifications along the way on the progress of your order, as well as tracking information to track your plants all the way to their new home!

Why are some states excluded from shipping?

The short & sweet answer is: "United States Department of Agriculture Restrictions." Every state has their own unique USDA restrictions on which plants they allow to come into their state. While we wish we could serve everyone, it's for the safety of native species and helps prevent the spread of invasive disease & pests. We've gotta protect good ole' Mother Nature, after all.

About Me


The Rheingold Arborvitae is a classic golden evergreen with the richest coloring possible. It has bright yellow leaves all summer, turning rich gold in winter. This plant is all gold, with no greening as the leaves mature. It forms a rounded globe shape, just a little taller than it is across, reaching 3 to 5 feet in 10 years, and continuing to add 4 to 6 inches of growth for its whole life. It has a unique combination of juvenile and adult foliage on the same plant. This bush makes a stunning specimen at all seasons, looking especially striking in winter, where color is especially valuable in the garden. Plant it around your home, in beds, in containers, among other colorful evergreens or as a low hedge.

  • Rich gold foliage with no green interior
  • Turns deep gold in winter for a stunning effect
  • Rounded globe form is perfect accent plant
  • Easily grown in ordinary to damp soil
  • Can be clipped into low hedges or globes

Grow the Rheingold Arborvitae in full sun for the best color. In zone 7 some afternoon shade in summer will protect it from the possibility of sun scorch. Grow this easy plant in ordinary garden soil, well-drained and not constantly wet. It should be regularly watered during periods of drought, and not planted in very hot, dry, sandy soil. It has no serious pests or diseases, and it needs no clipping to maintain its rounded form. For a more formal look, or for hedges, trim in early spring, before new growth begins.

Plant Hardiness Zones 3-7
Mature Width 2.5-4.5
Mature Height 3-5
Soil Conditions Tolerates Wet Soil
Sunlight Full Sun to Partial Shade
Drought Tolerance Moderate Drought Tolerance
Zones 3-7

 We are constantly exposed to new plants, and often these are fantastic garden additions. But sometimes the oldest is still the best, and this is certainly true when it comes to a vibrant splash of gold in your winter garden. The Rheingold Arborvitae has been around for well over a century, but still nothing beats it – it delivers the richest golden color all year round of any golden evergreen. Growing into a compact, rounded shrub, it is small enough for a small garden, but big enough to make an impact in a larger one too. If you are looking for gold, here is where to find it.

The Rheingold Arborvitae develops into a rounded form, just a little taller than wide, reaching 3 to 5 feet in 10 years, and just a little less across. Like all conifer evergreens it continues to grow for its whole life, and older plants will become significantly larger, although they can easily be clipped to keep them smaller and neater, if you wish. The most striking feature of this plant is the vibrant golden color of the leaves. Some ‘golden’ evergreens are just gold on the new leaves, but this beauty is gold all the way through, and stays that way all year round. No other evergreen maintains its golden color so well, in winter and in summer, so it is no wonder that this old variety has remained a top favorite for so long. Summer foliage is bright yellow, and in winter, with colder weather, a coppery ‘old gold’ color develops.

The second unusual feature of this plant is the foliage itself. Arborvitae trees have different leaves when they are young seedlings. They are triangular, and they point out from the stems. This ‘juvenile’ foliage is replaced by flat, scaly ‘adult’ leaves that cling to the stems, developing into the flattened sprays typical of arborvitae. In the Rheingold Arborvitae both types of leaves persist, and branches may have both types on them at the same time. This variability creates a much richer texture to this plant, and it gives it a more exciting look that we see in most other evergreens. The balance of these two types of leaves varies from plant to plant, and over time.

Growing Rheingold Arborvitaes

Use the Rheingold Arborvitae as a striking specimen anywhere in your garden. It looks fabulous mixed with darker leaves plants, or with other colorful evergreens, such as blue foliaged plants. Use it in containers – a pair in pots framing a doorway would be stunning. Grow it as an informal hedge along a path or drive, and you can clip it too, for a more formal look. It is perfect for bringing color to the foundation planting around your home, as a single plant, or in groups. It is small enough to fit beneath windows, or to plant in front of taller bushes.

Planting Location

Grow the Rheingold Arborvitae in full sun for the best color. In shadier spots it may become more lime-green after the spring flush of yellow growth. In zone 7, some afternoon shade will prevent any risk of sun scorch in summer. In cold areas protection from drying winds will prevent winter injury. Grow in any well-drained garden soil that is not too dry. Do not plant in hot, dry places, as regular moisture will give the best results, although drainage is important. This plant has no significant pests or diseases and it is very easy to grow.

History of the Rheingold Arborvitae

The Rheingold Arborvitae is a unique form of the eastern arborvitae, Thuja occidentalis. This American tree grows throughout eastern Canada and the north-eastern states of America, through the Appalachians as far south as West Virginia. Wild trees grow to 50 feet or so, and occasionally grand old trees 100 feet tall are seen. The form called ‘Rheingold’ was found around 1900 by Rud Vollert, a nurseryman from Lübeck, Germany. He saw an unusual branch growing on a plant of another golden Arborvitae variety, ‘Ellwangeriana Aurea’. That plant has only adult foliage, while this new branch had juvenile leaves. The plants grown from Vollert’s branch were all juvenile, but over time plants began to develop the characteristic mix of adult and juvenile foliage seen today in most plants of ‘Rheingold’.

Our plants are grown from stem pieces taken from plants descended from that original discovery. This plant cannot be reproduced from seed, and it must be carefully grown to preserve its unique characteristics and brilliant coloring. This reliable classic variety is always in high demand, so order now for the very best golden evergreen available, while we still have stock available. It will soon be gone.

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Rheingold Arborvitae

Thuja occidentalis 'Rheingold'

1 Review