Fire Chief arborvitae is one of our favorite evergreens, particularly for the winter landscape. It’s a sport of ‘Rheingold’ but with more vibrant color in the spring, more compact habit, and less prone to splitting over time. A cultivar of the Eastern white cedar (Thuja occidentalis), it is a beautiful evergreen shrub that adds a touch of color as a foundation plant. Here’s why it should be considered for your garden:
The Fire Chief arborvitae has a compact, globe-shaped form that grows to a mature height and width of 3-5 feet. Its foliage is really what makes it special. In spring and summer, the leaves are a vibrant golden yellow, adding a sunny pop of color to the garden. As the weather cools, the foliage transforms into a stunning apricot-orange, providing a captivating display throughout the winter months.
This hardy shrub is resistant to cold temperatures down to -30°F (-34°C), making it an easy choice for any elevation, from Asheville to Boone. It also tolerates wind and snow well, maintaining its shape and color even under challenging conditions, without splitting.
The Fire Chief requires minimal maintenance, making it a perfect choice for busy gardeners. It thrives in full sun to part shade and needs only moderate watering. Occasional pruning of leggy branches to maintain its shape is all that’s required(if you even want to bother with that.)
This versatile shrub can be used in a variety of ways in the landscape. It can be planted as a single specimen, in foundation plantings, borders, or containers. It also makes an excellent hedge.
Overall, the Fire Chief arborvitae is an excellent choice for winter landscapes. Its vibrant color, compact size, and low-maintenance needs make it a versatile choice for almost any place in your garden.
- To ensure the best winter color, plant the Fire Chief arborvitae in full sun.
- As with most plants for us in the heavy clay of Western North Carolina, mulch it well and if necessary amend the soil with a soil conditioner or finely ground bark mulch.
- Water the shrub deeply in late fall before the ground freezes.
Arborvitaes are the go-to family of conifers for WNC as they handle the cooler temps as well as the summer heat of the south. Fire Chief is one of our favorite compact cultivars and will provide years of low-maintenance beauty in your garden all year long.