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thuja occidentalis-- cedar questions

 
Risa Sibbitt
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so my husband wants to buy thuja occidentalis- northern white cedar to block out the neighbor since they are a good deal at the store and already 8 feet tall, where the spruce i wanted costs the same price for 3 feet tall. But we live in northern montana, bigfork, zone 3. the internet says the cedar needs humid climates. i'm wondering if it would grow here well, and also, if not, why would they sell it at the store??
Thanks!!!
 
Dan Boone
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I have zero idea about your specific plant question. But it's been my experience that stores -- especially national chains stores, you don't say what store in your question -- are utterly shameless about selling inappropriate species for the local conditions.

Around here, the shining bad example is Bartlett pears. It's the most common pear sold at big box stores, because people are familiar with it in the grocery story and will buy it. But it's extremely susceptible to fire blight, which is everywhere in these parts. You can't hardly grow it at all around here unless you've got the equipment to do many iterations of foliar sprays on your trees. But still they offer it instead of the many more resistant pear varieties that people may not have heard of.
 
Will Meginley
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Risa Sibbitt wrote:i'm wondering if it would grow here well, and also, if not, why would they sell it at the store??


Because there's always someone out there who'll buy it without doing their homework.

I rather doubt you'll have much luck in Montana with a tree whose list of common names includes "swamp cedar" unless you're prepared to do a lot of irrigating. I don't know how Bigfork compares to Missoula for precip, but if I remember correctly Missoula gets about 11 inches a year, which is barely half of the LOW end of the precip range in its native habitat according to the USDA Forest Service's fact sheet on T. occidentalis.

You might try scrounging around for Thuja plicata (western redcedar) seedlings, which are native to your area. When I lived in northern Idaho all of the riparian areas were crawling with it. Would probably still require some irrigation if it wasn't close to a water body, but much less than T. occidentalis, I would think.
 
Risa Sibbitt
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thanks for all your input. i asked the nursery lady and she said that although they grow "ok" here, the deer eat them like candy.... which is not what we want. so we are looking at a different species. appreciate your thoughts
risa
 
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