Thuja, (popularly known The Tree of Life), originates in North America where it has a deep cultural significance for indigenous peoples. The botanical name is derived from the Greek word Thuo meaning 'sacrifice'. Thuja species were formerly also used in sacrificial rituals because the wood gives off a distinctive, pleasant aroma when burned. The popular association of the tree with ‘life’ more broadly, probably relates to the medicinal properties of the oil extracted from these conifers. For example, Native Americans and settlers used it to treat scurvy. The vegetable oil also has a pleasant aroma which is believed to have a calming effect. There are even stories that you should seek the company of the tree of life when you are a little restless and confused.
Thuja is powerful on the outside too and delivers visual appeal all year round through its wonderful green foliage. A compact tree, it’s available in spherical or conical shapes or as a columnar tree. Because of its beauty and its deeper meanings, this garden plant is an ideal companion if you want to enjoy the first sunbeams of February outdoors.
Planting & Care
As long as the soil isn’t frozen, February is a great time to plant trees, including confers like The Tree of Life. Thuja is also ideal for container growing on your balcony or patio. Conifers like this are best in sun or in partial shade. Thuja is virtually maintenance-free, but if grown in containers, do make sure your Thujas get enough water and a little tree food throughout the year.