Thuja 'Totem'

Do you dare to grow a conifer in your garden! Your first impression might be that they are invasive/boring/unruly* delete as appropriate here! However, times have changed, and conifers can be handsome, graceful and dare we say, sexy…

Conifers could even be part of the next big trend… they’ve got colour, form, longevity, plus they’re easy to grow…

With Thuja ‘Totem Smaragd’, you also have a plant to rival the much-admired Italian Cypress tree, it’s slender and upright, and a fraction of the price of it’s Italian relative!

Read on to find out the story behind new conifer ‘Totem Smaragd’…

Thuja 'Totem'

How was this plant created?

Nurseryman Casey van Vloten was just casually cultivating his field of conifers one day, when he noticed a strange abnormality on one of the larger Smaragd arborvitae conifers. Casey had a really keen eye for something different!

He waited a season or two to see how it went on to develop. To his surprise, the plant went from a very compact clump of foliage to a very unusual upright teardrop shape, very different to the regular growth of the surrounding plants. Casey then started propagating this special plant in small numbers, and the longer he grew the plant, the more he started to appreciate its potential…

Thuja 'Totem'

What’s different about this plant?

The neat, narrow growth of ‘Totem Smaragd’ is not only handsome, but also very useful in the garden. It doesn’t take up much ground-space, yet gives height and stature to a garden. It’s similarly to the premium Italian Cypress cannot be overlooked either, and this will indeed add to its demand!

‘Totem Smaragd’ has been successful in trials, and is proving to be a strong grower. It has all the great qualities of any conifer, with severe frost resistance and untold adaptability, enjoying sun or semi-shade.

Thuja 'Totem'

Where can you plant Thuja ‘Totem Smaragd’?

‘Totem Smaragd’ works excellently as a feature plant, it can be mixed into shrub borders, or planted into decorative pots on the patio. A hedge would also be elegant and look good all year round!

Placing ‘Totem Smaragd’ either side of a doorway could offer a low cost alternative to Italian cypress, or indeed olive trees and bay trees. Thuja are very hardy and can tolerate a wide range of different soils and conditions, from sun to shade. They amazingly withstand pollution too, and require zero pruning.

Thuja 'Totem'

Where can you buy this plant?

Plants are available in garden centres across Europe, and are coming soon to mail order outlets.

Thuja 'Totem'

How to grow Thuja ‘Totem Smaragd’:

Location: Borders, patio pots
Soil: Any well-drained soil, drought tolerant when established
Light: Sun or part shade
Hardy: Survives down to -15C! Plant will come back every year.
Care: Nothing to do!
Size: 2m (6”) high x 50cm (20”) in spread


Watch me talk about Thuja ‘Totem Smaragd’ in this video below:


Plant of the Month is sponsored by Plantipp, a company based in The Netherlands who handle the introduction of new plants into Europe (with Concept Plants doing the same job in North America).

It can actually be quite easy to spot new plants, as nature often does the breeding work for you! Natural variation is referred to as a ‘sport’, or you may find a new hybrid has appeared in your garden by itself. To hunt down these new plants, it’s all about noticing differences. Make sure you take time out to get to know the plants in your garden, and if any seem different to the norm, let me know!

See every Plant of the Month here.

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