Rick’s Native Plant of the Month | ‘Grey Owl’ eastern red cedar

December 12, 2023

By Rick Bogusch

Bridge Gardens

Eastern red cedar is a familiar small evergreen tree, native to Long Island and the eastern U. S. As long as it has full sun, this cedar tolerates a wide range of growing conditions and will grow just about anywhere, including dry, rocky sites.

Commonly seen growing along highways and in old fields, pastures and fence rows, it has a conical shape and reddish brown bark and is often planted as a specimen tree, windbreak or hedge. Eastern red cedar is dioecious, meaning it flowers on separate male and female trees.


Silver-blue berries of Grey Owl are a favorite of overwintering birds

‘Grey Owl’ is a female form that only grows 3 feet tall and 6-10 feet wide. Bearing numerous silver-blue, berry-like fruits, its wide-spreading, layered branches are covered with silver-blue needles. It makes a striking specimen and can be planted in shrubs borders and as a ground cover on slopes.

Unlike most red cedars that eventually grow too tall to be browsed by deer, ‘Grey Owl’ is not deer-resistant because of its small stature.

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