How Fast Do Arborvitae Grow?

Are you trying to spruce up your landscape? If you have decided to grow arborvitae trees, you are likely wondering how fast they grow. After all, you don't want to have to wait forever for your driveway to be beautifully lined. With this in mind, we have researched several different types of arborvitae and outlined our findings below. 

Arborvitae trees are incredibly slow-growing, with the exception of just a couple of types. Although some reach large sizes, they only grow at a rate of approximately 12 inches per year. However, this number can decrease, depending on soil types and sun exposure. 

Now that you know the average growth rate of arborvitae trees, you need to know the sizes and growth rates for specific types. Keep reading to learn more about arborvitae sizes and ideal growing conditions, including the American, Giant, Korean, Japanese, and Sichuan trees. 

Row of green thujas on pink wall, How Fast Do Arborvitae Grow?

How Fast Do Arborvitae Trees Grow?

Arborvitae trees, with the exception of just a couple, are incredibly slow-growing trees. Most grow at a maximum rate of 12 inches per year. However, this number can decrease, depending on the soil and light conditions. Let's look at specifics for a few different types. 

American/Eastern Arborvitae

Thuja at the road in the summer. Decorative Thuya.

According to The Arbor Day Foundation, the Eastern Arborvitae, also known as the American Arborvitae, is a very large specimen, maxing out at about 60 feet tall and 15 feet wide. It is an evergreen and is considered a slow to medium growing tree, increasing at approximately 12 to 24 inches per year. In some cases, it may not even show growth of 12 inches in a given year.

Ideal Growing Conditions

For best results, plant your American Arborvitae in wet but well-drained soil. They grow well in sand, silt, and clay with acidic qualities. Do not plant your tree in a shaded area. It needs plenty of direct sunlight to help it grow properly. Ignoring these planting needs will result in slower growth rates for your tree. It can withstand USDA hardiness zones 3 through 7.

Korean Arborvitae

Evergreen shoots

The exact yearly growth rate for the Korean Arborvitae is unknown; however, like other arborvitaes, it is an extremely slow-growing tree. This species of arborvitae tree can grow in shrub form or tree form. According to The Missouri Botanical Garden, the Korean Arborvitae, as a shrub, will mature to be approximately 15 feet tall with a 10-foot spread.

However, if it grows as a tree, it will be more slender and reach a height of about 30 feet with an approximately 15-foot spread. The Korean Arborvitae is rare and difficult to find for gardening purposes and is protected in China and South Korea. 

Ideal Growing Conditions 

Unlike the American Arborvitae, the Korean Arborvitae does not tolerate acidic soil. Instead, it grows best in neutral and alkaline soils. This rare breed needs plenty of direct sunlight and will not grow to maximum capacity when exposed to too much shade. They need plenty of water and well-drained soil in USDA hardiness zones 5 to 8. 

Japanese Arborvitae

Pine, fir and garden trees and bonsai in boxes on tree farm

The Japanese Arborvitae is no exception when it comes to slow yearly growth. Most only increase in height by 12 inches annually; although, some can grow a few more inches in any given year.  Tall and slender, this tree is medium in size, reaching a height of about 20 to 30 feet and a width of about 10 to 15 feet. 

Ideal Growing Conditions

The Japanese Arborvitae only grows in USDA hardiness zones 5 to 7 and does not tolerate dry soil. It also will not thrive in acidic soil. Instead, it prefers neutral or alkaline conditions. It needs plenty of water, but take care not to over-water your tree.

Make sure soil is well-drained at all times. As with other arborvitae types, the Japanese Arborvitae does not grow well in shady locations. It needs plenty of direct sunlight and can withstand a few hours of partial shade. However, too much shade will significantly affect its growth rate. 

Sichuan Arborvitae 

The Sichuan Arborvitae can reach heights of approximately 30 to 60 feet, but it is very slender with a width of only 12 inches. While it is now available for planting purposes, the Sichuan Arborvitae is extinct in the wild. It was thought to be completely extinct in the 1900s until it was discovered in China in 1999. It is a protected species and only grows in a select location along the southern side of the Daba Shan at a rate of a bit more than 12 inches each year. Its leaves and cones are smaller than other species of arborvitae, making them easy to identify. 

Growing Conditions

This arborvitae grows in USDA hardiness zones 6 and 7 along ridges and slopes. It prefers limestone-based, neutral and alkaline soils. Soil should be wet or moist but well-drained. Like others in the arborvitae family, the Sichuan needs plenty of direct sunlight and a couple of hours of partial shade. Without the partial shade, it can suffer in the hot summer months. Too much shade, however, will stunt its growth. 

Giant Arborvitae

The tree is old, it is big, magestuous in isolated element.

Unlike other types of arborvitae, the Giant Arborvitae is a fast-growing variety. It has an amazing growth rate of 3 feet per year until it reaches maturity. It matures to approximately 50 to 60 feet tall, but it is not as slender as other varieties, growing to about 12 to 20 feet wide. 

Growing Conditions

The Giant Arborvitae tolerates an array of soil types, but it does not thrive in wet soil conditions, unlike others of its kind. Regardless of soil type, it should be well-drained and a bit moist. Too much salt will be detrimental. It grows in USDA hardiness zones 5 to 7, and plenty of direct sunlight is a must. However, it can stand a few hours of partial shade. 

How to Make Your Arborvitae Grow Faster

Avoid Summer Heat

If you want an arborvitae tree but don't want the hassle of waiting for it to grow, there are a few things you can do to make your arborvitae grow faster. The best way to do this is by choosing the proper time of year for planting. While they can be planted during any season, the summer heat will significantly slow their growth. Spring and fall are usually the best months to plant arborvitae. 


No matter what time of year you plant your tree, you should avoid placing it in entirely shaded areas. Arborvitae needs plenty of direct sunlight, and depriving them of it will significantly stunt their growth. However, if you plant your arborvitae during the summer, they will appreciate a little extra time in partial shade.


Before planting, you should do some research on your particular type of arborvitae. Spacing needs vary, and it's essential to follow those guidelines. If you plant them together too closely, they will be forced to compete for nutrients in the soil, causing slower growth rates. 


Row of green thujas on pink wall.

Arborvitae are typically slow-growing trees. While they are easily maintained, there are a few guidelines gardeners should follow to ensure proper growth. Most species only grow a maximum of 12 inches per year, but a few techniques will help boost that rate, including adequate sun exposure, watering techniques, and planting procedures. 

You can find the best fertilizers for your arborvitae tree here. However, if you are searching for a faster-growing tree, you should consider the weeping fig. You can find out more about its growth rate by reading this blog post. Just be aware that, when grown outdoors, it has massive roots that are extremely invasive. 

One comment

  1. Recently I was on your website researching arborvitae trees and came across one that has minimal height as in maybe 14 feet. I think it was called a “baby giant arborvitae tree”. Now I can’t find the article you posted. Do you have additional information on this type of tree? Thanks you

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