Can you identify this shrub?

Asked June 29, 2020, 10:53 AM EDT

Hi! Hope you are happy & healthy! Can you please identify this shrub in my front flower bed? I'd like to purchase another one (online). A "plant identifier" app suggests it is a Monterey Cyprus, but I'm not certain that's accurate b/c images of the Monterey Cyprus online suggest it's more tree-like, than shrub-like. The plant in my flower bed is definitely shrub-like. Thank you!

Howard County Maryland

2 Responses

Although the foliage texture is quite similar to Monterey Cypress, those evergreens are rarely grown in our area due to insufficient compatibility with our climate and soils. This looks like a common cultivar of Eastern Arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis) called 'Rheingold'. This variety has orange-blushed new growth (more so in winter) and a base color of golden yellow fading to bright green. Older, inner, shaded needles will be green.

They grow in a globular shape and can be lightly sheared, though are best left to their own devices regarding size and shape to avoid bare spots and browning associated with over-pruning. They are slow-growing, but their eventual size (say, at about 10 years old or so) can be in the range of 3 to 5' tall and wide. The needle texture on older plants can change to a more flattened spray of foliage, more typical of the parent species.

The more recently-introduced variety 'Fire Chief' is very similar to 'Rheingold', but tends to be a bit more orange and stays smaller (2 to 4' tall and wide in the same time frame). Given the apparent size and yellower color of this plant, and the relative scarcity of the newer variety, this is probably 'Rheingold'.


Thank you very much, Miri! This site is such a wonderful resource! I very much appreciate your time & expertise.