Straight and narrow
Arborvitae are popular for good reason — they’re useful. Easy to grow, they are great screening plants with dense foliage, and they’re evergreen. One issue that arises, however, is their tendency to flop when it snows. This is a problem with a simple, which is not necessarily to say easy, solution. Arborvitae send up multiple leaders (shoots that grow upward and compete with the main, central shoot), which get spindly and weak. So the solution is to clip out the competing leaders to maintain a single, strong, central leader. This is actually great advice for many kinds of evergreens, such as firs, spruces and many pines. Even when a tree naturally grows with a strong central shoot, it will occasionally send up a competing shoot, resulting in a structurally weak fork, and degrading the beautiful conical form that’s so attractive on many of these specimens. When you spot them, these competing shoots should always be removed (or in many cases simply cutting off the terminal bud will suffice). The trouble with arborvitae is that this means a lot of trimming because they send out so many of these shoots. But it’s worth the trouble, IMO. The end product is a strong, nicely formed plant that won’t make you worry every time it snows.
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