‘Cute’ is not often a word we use for plants, but it certainly fits the Teddy Arborvitae. This plant has a soft feel, just like a plush stuffed bear, and it grows into an upright globe that only needs eyes to become a favorite toy. More seriously, the Teddy Arborvitae is a great dwarf evergreen, suitable for small beds, planters, and for making low hedges. Despite its soft look, it is incredibly hardy, and among other uses it makes an excellent substitute for boxwood in areas too cold for those plants to grow.
The Teddy Arborvitae grows about 2 inches a year, and in about 10 years it will be 2 feet tall, and about 1 foot across. It forms a neat globe of bright green foliage, and it is a perfect eye-catching specimen anywhere in your garden. Being small it fits best into smaller spaces, like beds of dwarf conifers, planter boxes, or even in a pot, where it can be admired for its unique beauty. At first you may not be sure what type of plant it is, because it does not have the normal foliage or an arborvitae like the Emerald Green or Little Giant Arborvitae, which have flattened, scale-like leaves pressed against the stems. Instead the Teddy Arborvitae retains the ‘juvenile’ foliage seen normally only on young seedling trees of this species. These leaves are small and soft, growing outwards from the slender stems. It is this that gives the plant its unique texture and feel.
Growing Teddy Arborvitae
Use the Teddy Arborvitae in your garden in any smaller area. Grow it at the front of a bed for an eye-catching specimen among other shrubs. It is a great addition to a collection of dwarf evergreens – here at the Tree Center we have a big range to choose from. You can arrange some of the smallest growing ones in a large planter box or trough, with some attractive rocks, and a gravel mulch, to make a beautiful miniature garden. The Teddy Arborvitae would be perfect for that, and with its larger mature size it would also work well as a smaller addition to a larger garden bed containing other upright or spreading evergreens in a variety of foliage colors and textures. You can also decorate a terrace or patio with pots of small shrubs, instead of the usual annual flowers, and this tree would be perfect for that.
Although the Teddy Arborvitae is small, it is tough, and just as winter hardy as its larger relatives. It grows well in zone 3, and it thrives in warmer areas too, all the way into zone 8. It will grow best in full sun, but in warmer areas it will also grow in partial shade, especially given some shelter from the hot afternoon summer sun. It grows in any garden soil, except for soils that are constantly wet, and it needs no special care at all – it’s a very easy plant to grow, and even a child could grow it. In fact, its name makes it ideal as a gift for a small child who shows an interest in plants – a great start for a lifelong interest.
Care and Maintenance
This plant is naturally dense and compact, but you can clip the Teddy Arborvitae too, at any time between spring and mid-summer, and the foliage will grow even denser. In fact, in colder areas this plant is a great way to make low hedges around a bed, as is usually done with boxwood in warmer areas. If you love the look of low hedges, but can’t grow boxwood, then plant a row of the Teddy Arborvitae instead. Space the plants 9 inches apart, and clip two or three times a year from an early age. In a few years you will have a beautiful, lush, neat hedge, with perfect corners and a flat top, just like a boxwood hedge.
History and Origins of the Teddy Arborvitae
The Teddy Arborvitae is a special selection of the American Arborvitae, or White Cedar, Thuja occidentalis. This tree is an upright-growing narrow tree that can reach 30 to 60 feet in height when growing in its natural range, all through the northeastern states, and up into eastern Canada. The name arborvitae means ‘tree of life’, because a tea made from the leaves is rich in vitamin C. This use was taught to the early settlers by Native Americans, and it must have saved many of the early colonies from scurvy during the long, cold winters with a very limited diet.
There are many varieties of this tree grown in gardens, in a wide range of sizes, and it is one of the most useful garden plants in colder areas. The variety called ‘Teddy’ originated in Bad Berka, Germany in the 1950s. Horst Pierskalla collected seed from another dwarf arborvitae, also with a rounded form, called ‘Kobold’. That variety is widely grown in Germany and eastern Europe. It has the normal adult scale-like foliage of this plant. Among the seedlings he found one that kept its juvenile foliage, and it grew into a soft, round ball. Because of its plush feel he called it ‘Teddy’.
These rare, unique plants are always in high demand, and our stock sells rapidly. You will love having the Teddy Arborvitae in your garden, so order now, while we can still satisfy your order.