The Tree Center

FREE SHIPPING ON ALL ORDERS OVER $199

Tom Thumb Arborvitae

Thuja occidentalis ‘Tom Thumb’

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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

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The Tom Thumb Arborvitae is a compact, rounded evergreen bush growing no more than 2 or 3 feet tall and wide. It has a natural round form, without trimming, but it can be trimmed too for the most formal look. The lush green foliage is very dense, never showing a bare interior, and it stays green all winter without bronzing or burning. Use it as a foreground accent in any bed, to mark the corners of your beds, or edge a path. It is also perfect for planters in colder areas where most green plants won’t overwinter in a pot outdoors.

  • Perfect neat ball without trimming
  • A very compact variety for smaller beds and gardens
  • Stays rich emerald-green all year round
  • Perfect for pots and planters
  • Very cold resistant to zone 4

Full sun will keep the Tom Thumb Arborvitae dense and green, but a little shade for part of the day won’t cause any problems. It is winter-hardy even in zone 4, without bronzing from the cold. It grows best in moist soils, so don’t plant it in dry sandy places. It tolerates poor soil, clay and urban conditions and rarely suffers from any pests or diseases. If you want to trim, do it between late spring and early fall.

Plant Hardiness Zones 4-9
Mature Width 2-3
Mature Height 2-3
Soil Conditions Average
Sunlight Full Sun to Partial Shade
Drought Tolerance Moderate Drought Tolerance
Zones 4-9

Sentences need full-stops, and gardens do as well. There is something very calm and restful about ball-shaped plants – they stop us in our tracks and calm our minds. When arranging the plants in your beds, especially around your home, structure and interest comes from using a variety of shapes, from slender verticals to rounded forms. Cute little rounded balls are always popular, but it takes a good eye to clip them into those perfect shapes – unless you let Mother Nature do it for you. That’s where the Tom Thumb Arborvitae comes into the picture. This dense, round ball of green will grow – without clipping – just 2 or 3 feet tall and wide, maintaining a near-perfect roundness all by itself. Now you can make those accents, and stagger the heights of your shrubs for best effect, without spending your Sundays out with the shears. Use this cute little guy to accent the corners of your beds, or make a low edging. Plant it among rocks, or in a pot for the easiest porch decoration there is. Reliable and simple to grow, just plant it and let it do its round thing. See, that was easy.

Growing the Tom Thumb Arborvitae

Size and Appearance

The Tom Thumb Arborvitae is a dense, rounded evergreen shrub that has many compact branches rising from the base, naturally making a ball-shaped plant that will grow no more than 2 or 3 feet tall and wide. The foliage is arranged in compact fans of slender branches, covered with tiny green leaves like flat scales, that cling to the stems, making them look completely green. These fans of green live for several years, and only die when they have become hidden by new growth, so you see green all year round. Other arborvitae shrubs can turn bronze or brown in winter, but the Tom Thumb Arborvitae stays green and fresh, even during the coldest winters. These fans of foliage lie on top of each other, keeping this plant naturally-dense and lush. You won’t have to worry about seeing an open, brown center on your evergreens – its natural density keeps it solid, with no gaps or unsightly holes. You get all-year solid green with this little guy – what a relief.

Using the Tom Thumb Arborvitae in Your Garden

When organizing the plants in your beds it is best to have a range of heights from front to back. Use the Tom Thumb Arborvitae to create a foreground to the foundation planting around your home, scaling down the plants from large to small – it’s what gives your beds that ‘designer look’. Use it at the corners of beds in particular – at every corner for a formal look, just at some for a more relaxed garden feel. Grow it alone in the smallest gardens – it never grows too big – or cluster it in groups of 3 or 5 for perfect effect. In smaller beds you can use it among other evergreens or with flowering shrubs, it never looks out of place. It is also perfect for planters and pots, especially where you want that ‘globe look’, but where other globe plants like boxwood won’t grow because of winter cold.

Hardiness

Despite its small size, the Tom Thumb Arborvitae is incredibly hardy, growing easily, without winter burn, in zone 4, and all the way to zone 8 or even zone 9 if your summers are not too hot and humid. For plants in pots we suggest a limit of zone 5 to 6.

Sun Exposure and Soil Conditions

Full sun will keep the Tom Thumb Arborvitae compact and green, but it will also grow well with a couple of hours of shade each day. Don’t plant in lots of shade, or it will become thin and more open. It grows easily in just about any soil, including wetter soils, alkaline soils and urban conditions. Don’t plant in very sandy, dry soils, as this plant is not particularly drought tolerant, although once established it can handle a bit of dryness in summer.

Maintenance and Pruning

We don’t usually see any pests or diseases on this plant, but deer do like to eat it. It doesn’t need trimming, but if you love super-neat, go ahead and trim it into the densest and most precise green globe you have seen – it looks great. Trim from late spring, once the new growth has toughened up a bit, until early fall. Late trimming can push new growth that then burns in winter. Remember to soak the ground shortly before freeze-up, to protect from winter burn.

History and Origin of the Tom Thumb Arborvitae

The variety called ‘Tom Thumb’ is a selected form of the eastern arborvitae or white cedar, Thuja occidentalis. This native tree grows naturally throughout the northeast and up into Canada, usually around the edges of forests, in low-lying areas and around wetlands. We don’t know the origin of this variety, which is similar to, but more compact, than several other forms that grow into round balls, rather than upright bushes.

Buying the Tom Thumb Arborvitae at the Tree Center

If you are looking for round and compact green, here it is. These top-quality plants stay neat and round, but they don’t stay around the farm. Order now – the demand is high but the supply is low.

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Tom Thumb Arborvitae

Thuja occidentalis ‘Tom Thumb’