What is the difference between a Thuja and a Green Giant?

What is the difference between a Thuja and a Green Giant?

Understanding the Difference: Thuja vs. Green Giant

When diving into the world of gardening and landscaping, the terms "Thuja" and "Green Giant" often surface, especially in discussions about privacy hedges and evergreen trees. However, there might be some confusion regarding what each term represents and how they differ. This blog post aims to clarify the distinctions between Thuja trees in general and the specific variety known as the "Green Giant."

What is Thuja?

Thuja is a genus of coniferous trees in the Cupressaceae (cypress) family, commonly referred to as arborvitaes or cedar trees. This genus includes several species and varieties that are popular in landscapes for their dense foliage, evergreen nature, and relatively easy maintenance. Thuja trees are native to North America and Asia, with species varying in size from medium to large, making them versatile for a variety of gardening and landscaping needs.

The Thuja Green Giant

The "Green Giant" is a specific hybrid cultivar within the Thuja genus, known scientifically as Thuja standishii x plicata. It is a cross between the Japanese thuja (Thuja standishii) and the Western red cedar (Thuja plicata), combining the best traits of both parent species. The Thuja Green Giant is celebrated for its rapid growth rate, disease resistance, and ability to thrive in a wide range of soil types and climates.

Key Differences Between Thuja and Green Giant

  • Species vs. Cultivar: The primary difference is that Thuja refers to the entire genus of trees, encompassing various species and cultivars, while the Green Giant is a specific hybrid cultivar within this genus.

  • Growth Rate and Size: While Thuja trees generally grow at a moderate rate, the Green Giant is notable for its exceptional growth speed, capable of growing 3-5 feet per year under optimal conditions. This makes it a preferred choice for those looking to establish a privacy hedge quickly.

  • Appearance: Though all Thujas share a similar evergreen appearance, the Green Giant has a distinct, vibrant green color and a dense, conical shape that makes it ideal for privacy screens and windbreaks.

  • Tolerance and Hardiness: The Green Giant is particularly noted for its high tolerance to a variety of soil types, pests, and diseases. It is also more adaptable to different climate conditions compared to some other Thuja species, making it a robust choice for many landscapes.

  • Use in Landscaping: While various Thuja species and cultivars are used for different landscaping purposes, the Green Giant's rapid growth and tall, dense foliage specifically suit it for creating quick privacy screens and hedges.


In essence, the term "Thuja" encompasses a wide range of trees within a genus, including many species and cultivars that are beloved in gardens and landscapes for their beauty and utility. The "Green Giant," on the other hand, refers specifically to a hybrid cultivar renowned for its rapid growth, durability, and ease of care, making it an ideal choice for privacy and aesthetic enhancement in a variety of settings.

Understanding the distinction between Thuja trees in general and the Green Giant allows gardeners and landscapers to make informed decisions about which plant might best meet their needs, based on the characteristics and advantages of each. Whether you're creating a serene backyard retreat or a robust privacy barrier, recognizing the differences between these options can help you achieve your desired outcome with beauty and efficiency.

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