The Techny Arborvitae is a clone of its parent plant the White Cedar or American Arborvitae. This special cultivar was found growing in Mission Gardens in Techny, Illinois and due to its strong characteristics has been cloned ever since and is sometimes called the Mission arborvitae. It is a medium growing (1-2ft per year) evergreen that has a dark green soft foliage. In September of each year it “sheds “ all the growth that grew out the previous year and it drops to the ground creating a very nice mulch around the tree. Its parent plant is a native to the northern US where it grows extensively and some fine, large specimens can be found on Mackinac Island on Lake Heron in Michigan
They can grow 30+ ft tall and 16+ft wide and the spreading root system is very wind firm but the wood is not quite so strong and can be damaged by high winds, snow and ice. This tree can live 100 years or longer, its parent plant can live over 500 years in the north. Age limiting factor is usually how close they are planted together as close planting and dry weather will shorten life. This tree has multiple leaders, so some damage to the top of the tree in ice and snow just lets one of the other “leaders” take over so the effect is minor in a windbreak. The foliage extends down to the ground, excellent for blocking winds. Deer will eat this foliage in the winter and severe damage and death can result with smaller plants, with larger plants all the foliage can be eaten off within 6 ft of the ground.
Deer reduction or fencing may have to be used in some areas. The Techny Arborvitae grows well in a hardiness zone from 3-7 and likes over 25" of rain per year in areas with adequate soil to hold moisture during the dry months. Does not do well in sandy soil as has a shallow root system and in droughty conditions, losses can result. Will grow well in high ph soils such as along gravel roads, in clay soils and soils with extra moisture. Should not be planted in states where hot dry summers usually occur (Nebraska, Montana, Wyoming, Kansas ect.) unless extra moisture can be provided.
Disease problem are few with no fungal disease problems and few insect problems such as bag worms or spider mites in a dry hot summer. The Techny Arborvitae has shown to be a better plant for use in windbreaks than any other arborvitaes and is more drought resistant. We have tested then against the American, Nigra, Dark Green, Emerald Green and Green Giant arborvitaes, and the Techny always comes out on top. As with any arborvitae if you have less than 1 inch of rain in a 30 day period from May through September with hot conditions, you should consider watering your trees once a month, no matter how big they are. A soaker hose, water tank, or maybe letting the water dribble out of a hose can do the job and save your trees.
A 2 ft potted tree can be over 8 ft tall in 5 years in good soil, adequate moisture, and total weed and grass control. Many places on the internet say the Techny grows slow and does not get very big (10ft)--this is untrue. Spacing--Is very important for this species, due to its shallow root system and most times are planted way to close together. When planted too close and a major drought hits, the shallow root system cannot get enough moisture for this moisture loving plant and the weakest ones die or the bottom of the plants die back causing a decrease in windbreak efficiency. Single Row-- 10-12 Ft apart, Double row-- 16 ft between rows and 14 ft apart between plants in row, Multiple rows--20 ft between rows and 14 ft between plants.
We highly recommend the Techny Arborvitae with certain restrictions: Proper spacing and soil conditions should be followed. They are wind resistant and we set them 12 feet apart on the outside of our 3 or more rows of trees, and at least 18 feet from any larger evergreens.
Due to the fact that Techny Arborvitae drop 1/2 of their foliage every year, the first 2-3 years after planting the foliage will look very "thin" as the root system gets established. This is considered normal for all arborvitae species so be patient, they are well worth it.
The problem is with multiple leaders coming out all in one place at the bottom, as the tree grows this creates a weak spot and with high winds or heavy snow this will break apart in this area. Your tree will simply break off at the weak point, (see below) and the tree will be severely damaged or killed and most do not survive long, if the other part is standing it soon breaks apart too . It is too late to prune it at the above potted stage as you will have huge cuts to heal, and little foliage if trying to get to one leader.
Bagworm can be a problem with arborvitae, and other evergreens. Here is a bagworm house hanging on a branch. The fat black worm live in the bag during the day and then in the evening they come out and chew off the foliage. If you have arborvitae or any evergreens you should walk threw your trees every year in mid June and July and check to see if you have any of these bags hanging on your trees. If they can be caught early they are easily eliminated by hand picking them off or spraying. To learn more about bagworms just do a search on the internet as there is much information.
Update: In the winter of 2009 and 2019 we got down to -38 degrees here on the farm and most of Iowa received similar temperatures. This extreme cold killed most of the bagworms in the state of Iowa, we have a few reports of them still down near the Missouri border and parts south and it looks like there back to there natural levels . Keep a careful eye on your trees, and you should have no problems with bagworms.
To the right is a row of arborvitae that has been hit by an infestation of bagworms, this happened in just a couple of weeks. They have eaten all the foliage off the trees and these trees are not going to survive. If they were caught early when they first appeared they could have been easily controlled and the trees would have survived with little damage. It usually takes several years for the population to get this large to do this kind of damage. Early detection is the key to controlling bagworms, walk threw your arborvitae and all evergreens during the summer, June and July, looking for the bags as shown above. Take action by hand picking off small infestations or using an insecticide for larger numbers, and one insecticide I know works is called Onyx.
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