Growing Emerald Cedar in Container


I just bought an emerald cedar from a big box store. It’s 5 feet tall. What size container should I get to replant the tree in? I don’t want the tree to grow much taller than 7 feet tall. I also need some tips about wintering the plant. Thanks.


Thanks for contacting Toronto Master Gardeners about your potted emerald cedar. Before deciding on whether to repot it, it’s a good idea to take it out of its pot and examine the roots. If the roots are tightly packed and circling around the outside of the soil, it is likely the cedar has been in that pot for quite some time and should be upsized to a pot that is several inches larger in diameter than the current one. Opt for a plastic pot versus clay, as clay pots have a tendency to crack in the winter. When repotting, loosen the tightly bound roots so that they are more likely to spread into the new soil that will be used to fill the space in the larger pot. Use a good quality potting soil, which you can find at your local garden centre. Emerald cedars are not fast growers and, with a more limited root system in a container, you should not need to worry about the tree becoming too tall.

Emerald cedars need moderate amounts of moisture and must not be allowed to dry out. Therefore, if you plan on keeping your emerald cedar potted for its lifetime, you will need to pay extra attention to this aspect of care. Regular watering will be necessary – even more so in the hot summer months – and a layer of mulch added on top of the soil will help retain moisture. It will have a harder time surviving the winter in a pot than in the ground, as it will be more exposed to sun/wind and will dry out faster. Therefore, moving it to a sheltered location that has some protection from winter sun/wind and making sure that it begins the winter season well-watered will be helpful. If you have the option of temporarily sinking it into the ground over winter in a sheltered location, you could consider that as well.

Here are some previous posts on containerized emerald cedars that you may also find helpful.