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My husband and I planted 5 Arborvitae Green Giants last year, probably around October. We decided a 6th would look nice and rather than back to the nursery, we went to Lowe’s. They only had Arborvitae Emerald Green but assured me it would look and grow very similar. Well, we took their word for it, but I wasn’t happy with it so maybe a few months later we ended up transplanting it to our front yard. Now, the leaves are all slouching. I am not sure if it is in shock or dying. My husband said the only thing he could find on the web is over watering or snow causes this. We live in SC and it hasn’t snowed since the tree was moved a few months ago but I find it hard to believe over watering caused this…it almost looks like it is wilting.

Drought Smart Plants reply:

This looks like it’s too late for this poor creature.

Quite often, the quality of the plants in Lowes and other large box stores is not the greatest to start with, and then they don’t receive proper care while they’re in transit, or on display.

It looks to me that possibly at some point it got really dry, and this is how they respond. Stress of over watering, cold temperatures or temperature swings, drying out and insects and pests are hard enough; transplanting and shipping long distances is sometimes the last straw.

The damage sometimes doesn’t show immediately, but the roots have been killed off, and the result is that the top growth has to die to try and balance the demands of the green top with what roots are still available.

You don’t say if this was potted, or in burlap, so I’m going to hazard a guess that it was either in a ball and burlap when you got it, or had been recently potted into a plastic pot. Unfortunately, this type of tree (the botanical name is Thuja, pronounced ‘thooya’) will never recover from this much damage.

I guess this just goes to show that sometimes convenience isn’t better – I always feel that it’s better to patronize a local nursery, because not only is the service better, the staff usually know how to take care of their plants; and the plants have usually acclimatized to the local conditions.

I’ve killed more plants than I care to count – it comes with the territory of horticulturists and gardeners, so don’t feel bad.

Move on to the next stage, put this poor thing on the bonfire and replace it with the correct plant – one that’s not already stressed out.

Good luck,