Trimming emerald cedars


Hi! We planted 3 cedars this year. They are growing nicely. Given recent strong rain, it looks like the branches are getting “heavy” and one of the cedars in particular seems to be losing a bit of its shape. My questions: (1) Should I be concerned about this? and (2) How can I help my cedars keep a nice conical shape as they grow? [eg, someone told me to tie the branches together at the core of the cedar]. Thank you!!


Dear Writer,

Thank you for your question re cedars. Although you did not specify which variety you planted — without a picture, but with your reference to “a nice conical shape”, a fairly good assumption could be that you have emerald cedars (Thuya Occidentalis).  To your question regarding current strong rainfalls: yes, the whorls of the cedar leaves could have been retaining enough water to weigh down the branches. To some extent, this occurs on most thick-leaf conifer trees as a result of heavy rainfall, or snowfall.  But with wind, sun and evaporation, the branches usually rectify to their original positions. If your cedars are thriving (sustained regular watering, good drainage, prescribed fertilizer, sun, air circulation), as you say, then this weight variance should not be a problem. Should you see some moderate risk to inner branches, where the cell tissues are not broken, then you may provide some interim inner support.

Most importantly: year-over-year, consider applying a judicious amount of pruning, to promote regular densifying of inner growth. The cedars will not generate new growth from old wood, but will generate new growth from the trim line.  Please read this TMG chapter on a related, and relevant question, a TMG publication on the general Care of Cedars.

Hopefully this will give you a broad understanding re your question regarding shape and health of your plants. Further, you may consider consulting an arborist regarding the future needs of the plants, and the best plan for pruning.