Thuja plicata x standishii ‘Leprechaun’: The Leprechaun™ Arborvitae

Thuja plicata x standishii 'the Leprechaun'

In this article I feature Thuja plicata x standishii ‘Leprechaun’ , known as the Leprechaun™ Arborvitae.

If I am perfectly honest, I was never a major fan of conifers but I have always had a soft spot for Thuja plicata, the western red cedar, mainly because the wood is so gorgeous when used as cladding or as the frame for a greenhouse.

In fact, I had a large Thuja plicata in this garden – and a western red cedar framed greenhouse. I have fond memories of that garden, so maybe there is an emotional pull on me towards these plants.

Anyway, this Thuja plicata hybrid is a really useful small, compact evergreen shrub or small tree with attractive foliage and easy-to-grow nature. It is a pretty versatile plant and well worth considering for your garden.

Origin of Thuja Plicata x Standishii ‘Leprechaun’

Thuja Plicata x Standishii ‘Leprechaun’ is a cultivar of the hybrid plant that resulted from the cross between Thuja plicata and Thuja standishii.

Thuja plicata, is a native conifer the western states of North American. Thuja standishii, commonly called Japanese arborvitae, is a small to medium evergreen conifer native to subalpine forests on the Japanese islands of Honshu and Shikoku.

Thuja Plicata x Standishii originated from the crossing of these two parent plants and, as a result, inherited properties from both. The ‘Leprechaun’ cultivar of Thuja Plicata x Standishii arose as a naturally occurring branch mutation of the popular ‘Green Giant’ variety, which was also a hybrid derived from the same parent plants. This mutation was first discovered in a production field and was later asexually propagated using stem cuttings in 2015.

Growth characteristics

The Leprechaun™ Arborvitae is a slow-growing Arborvitae that typically reaches a height of 7 to 10 feet with a spread of 4 to 6 feet at maturity. 

Striking features of the Leprechaun™ Arborvitae are its compact size and dense foliage of vibrant green. As an evergreen, it provides year-round interest.

These characteristics are also what make the Leprechaun an excellent choice for planting in small gardens or as a low-maintenance hedge.

It is also a great choice for adding vertical interest to a garden, as its narrow columnar shape creates a sense of height without taking up too much space. It can be used a slightly denser and broader alternative to the dwarf Italian cypress – Cupressus sempervirens ‘Monshel’.

Garden Uses and Placement

In terms of placement, ‘Leprechaun’ thrives in full sun to partial shade and prefers well-drained soil. To ensure optimal growth and to keep the foliage nice and dense, it is best to avoid planting ‘Leprechaun’ in full shade.

Also make sure that you plant Arborvitae ‘The Leprechaun’ in an area with with enough room to accommodate its expected mature size.

There are several ways to incorporate ‘Leprechaun’ into your garden.

As mentioned, due to its thick, evergreen foliage, the plant can be used as an attractive and functional privacy screen, windbreak, or noise barrier. Its relatively low maintenance nature and moderate growth rate make it an ideal choice for these purposes.

If you want to use ‘Leprechaun’ as a privacy screen or hedge, space it as follows:

  • Single row: Space plants 2-3 feet apart
  • Double row: Space plants 4-5 feet apart, with rows 4-5 feet apart

You can also grown the Leprechaun™ Arborvitae in containers and planters. Two or three plants in containers can also be used effectively as a screen to create more privacy for seating areas near your house or on balconies.

The great thing is that the evergreen foliage means these spaces will retain their appeal even in the depths of winter.

Additionally, its compact size and pyramidal shape can add vertical interest and structure to mixed borders or as a standalone specimen.

The Leprechaun’s dense foliage can also provide a refuge for wildlife, providing cover for birds and small mammals.

Conifers like Thuja plicata x standishii 'the Leprechaun'

Planting and caring for Thuja plicata x standishii ‘Leprechaun’

Make sure you plant ‘Leprechaun’ at the same depth as it was in its nursery container and water it regularly until it becomes established. Once established, it will require minimal maintenance, with occasional pruning to maintain its desired shape and size.

However, Arborvitae look best with their foliage and limbs sweeping the ground, so we recommend avoiding pruning unless warranted. 

The Leprechaun™ Arborvitae should be grown in zones 5-8 to for best results (you can find our hardiness zone maps here). When choosing a location for your Arborvitae, make sure to pick a spot that receives full sun to partial shade.

The Leprechaun™ Arborvitae  requires moist but well-drained soil, ideally with a 3-4 inch bed of mulch which will keep moisture around the roots and prevent weeds growing up and competing with the plant. Throughout the fall and winter, make sure the plant has enough water and moist soil so as to prevent browning and wind-burn. 

Overall, the Leprechaun™ Arborvitae is a versatile and attractive evergreen proving year round interest that is well-suited to a variety of landscaping and garden applications. Its compact size, dense foliage, and easy-to-grow nature make it a popular choice for both novice and experienced gardeners alike.

Buy Thuja Plicata x standishii ‘Leprechaun’: the Leprechaun™ Arborvitae

If you are in the USA, you can buy the Leprechaun™ Arborvitae at Nature Hills Nursery. Click on the links to check out the latest price and offers.

Leprechaun™ Arborvitae

(Please note I am an affiliate of Nature Hills Nursery and may receive a small commission if you buy after clicking links on this page to Nature Hills website.)

FAQ re the Leprechaun™ Arborvitae

Can you keep the Leprechaun™ Arborvitae short by pruning

Only light pruning of Leprechaun™ Arborvitae is advised. Unlike its cousin Thuja Plicata x Standishii ‘GeenGiant”, it does not grow higher than about 10 feet (3 metres),. You can lightly prune the branch ends for a tighter shape if you wish. But, fundamentally this plant takes care of itself, so you don’t need to worry.

Do deer eat Leprechaun™ Arborvitae?

The Leprechaun™ Arborvitae comes from a cross of Thuja Plicata and Thuja Standishii. Neither of these species of plants are usually attractive to deer. Deer do frequently eat plants from the species Thuja occidentalis, the eastern arborvitae, but fortunately the Leprechaun™ Arborvitae comes from the western red cedar.

So, in short, deer won’t usually eat the Leprechaun™ Arborvitae. The only time they will is if they are starving.

Are there are any major pest or disease problems with Leprechaun™ Arborvitae

The Leprechaun™ Arborvitae is generally pretty pest and disease free.

It won’t usually brown or bronze in cold weather. But it may suffer from wind burn if it does not have enough moisture in winter. Therefore keep watering if need be and use a good thick mulch around the plants’ roots.

Thuja plicata x standishii 'the Leprechaun'

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