The Tree Center


Sunkist Arborvitae

Thuja occidentalis 'Sunkist'

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 Sunkist Arborvitae is a very hardy evergreen, with beautiful golden foliage all year round. It is at its brightest in spring, but it will hold the color well all through winter. It grows at a moderate rate to quickly reach 6 to 10 feet tall, and around 5 feet wide. It has an upright, pyramidal habit, and it makes a perfect specimen for a lawn, part of the planting around your home, or as a background plant in beds. It can also be used for a colorful hedge or screen, clipping easily into a dense structure. This easy-to-grow plant brings vibrant color to your garden 365 days of the year, and it is much easier to use colored foliage plants instead of constantly planting short-lived flowers.

  • Golden foliage brings a glow to your garden
  • Very hardy, the best golden evergreen for cold areas
  • Forms a 10-foot-tall specimen in a few years
  • easily grown in urban conditions
  • Thrives in full sun

Plant the Sunkist Arborvitae in a sunny place for the best foliage color. It is hardy in zone 3 with shelter from winds, or fully hardy in zones 4 to 8. It will grow in almost any soil, including clay, and tolerates damp conditions well. It can be clipped into formal shapes or a hedge – or left to develop its own character as a rounded, dense, upright evergreen. It has no significant pests or diseases, and this plant is easily grown by anyone, yet it is eye-catching and vibrant in every garden. Rich foliage colors bring warmth and interest to the simplest garden.

Plant Hardiness Zones 4-8
Mature Width 5-8
Mature Height 6-10 ft.
Soil Conditions Average, well-drained soil
Sunlight Sun to partial-shade
Drought Tolerance Moderate
Zones 4-8

Golden evergreens really pack a punch in the garden. They stand out in every season, adding color and interest wherever they are planted. They make outstanding specimens, or a unique hedge or screen. Especially in colder areas, the Sunkist Arborvitae is the number one choice for a golden evergreen, and really can’t be beaten.

Evergreens provide structure and interest in the garden. While flowering plants may come and go, these plants give our gardens stable structure. By choosing forms with colored foliage, they can add color too – not just for a few weeks, as flowers do, but all year round, brightening every season. Evergreens with colored leaves add interest to the planting around your home, in beds in the garden, as specimens in a lawn, or as background plants, screening your garden and making it enclosed and peaceful. To add warm golden tones, nothing is better than the Sunkist Arborvitae, which glows with gold all year round.

The Sunkist Arborvitae grows into an upright, rounded shrub that will be between 5 and 10 feet tall after 10 years in your garden. It will continue to grow for its whole life, although mature plants only add a few inches a year. Young plants grow 6 to 12 inches a year, depending on your local climate, soil conditions and fertility, and your watering schedule. It has a spread about two-thirds of its height, becoming broader with age. The new growth in spring is a warm golden-yellow, and this color remains on the tips all year round. Deeper inside the foliage will be green, making a striking contrast with the yellow outer branches. This warm, rich color makes the Sunkist Arborvitae a stand-out specimen plant in any garden, especially cooler ones, from zones 4 to 8. This makes it much hardier than other golden evergreens, and an ideal choice for northern states. It is also hardy in zone 3, but there it should be planted in a sheltered position, protected from cold and dry winds, which can burn the golden foliage in winter.

Plant the Sunkist Arborvitae in a sunny place. In shade the yellow colors will not be so strong. This plant will grow in most garden soils, preferring richer, moist ones. It will grow well even in clay soils, and in the poor soil typical of city gardens too. It tolerates air pollution well, and it will even grow close to the roots of the black walnut tree, which can produce compounds in the soil that prevent many other plants from growing well. Water your new plants regularly for the first season, but established plants will tolerate normal periods of summer dryness, particularly in cooler areas. It has no serious pests or diseases, but it can be eaten by deer.

The Sunkist Arborvitae can be grown as an unclipped specimen, and it has naturally-dense growth. It can be clipped from time to time to encourage even denser growth, or to create a more formal shape. It can also be clipped into a hedge, which will look especially beautiful in spring, when covered in golden new shoots. For a hedge, place your plants in a row, allowing 3 feet between each plant. When planting near a building or obstructions allow plenty of room for good development. Do not plant below windows, which will be blocked as the plant grows. Allow 6 feet or more clearance from doors, paths, driveways, fences and property lines, to avoid having to trim a beautiful mature specimen.

American Arborvitae, Thuja occidentalis, is a small, upright tree growing to perhaps 60 feet. It grows all through south-eastern Canada and the north-eastern USA, often in damp places, or in open forests among deciduous trees. It has soft, scale-like leaves pressed to the stems, and these are arranged in sprays, giving a rounded appearance, especially on trees that are not clipped frequently. This very hardy plant has produced many different forms, from small rounded balls to tight upright spires. The cultivated variety called ‘Sunkist’ was developed around 1960 in The Netherlands, at the Boer Brothers Nursery (Gebr. Boer BV) in Boskoop, a famous region known for developing and producing garden plants.

Our plants are produced by specialist growers from stem pieces taken from plants in a direct line of descent from the original. These are not cheap seedlings, but plants identical to the parent. It always pays to choose named varieties, to be sure you get just the qualities you are looking for. Our customers know this too, and our stock of this very popular golden evergreen will not last long. Order now and enjoy the best.

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Sunkist Arborvitae

Thuja occidentalis 'Sunkist'

1 Review