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Mr. Bowling Ball Arborvitae: a Superb Compact Evergreen

For a small evergreen shrub that stays neat and rounded without shearing, try Mr. Bowling Ball arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis 'Bobozam'). This 2- to 3-foot shrub provides pretty color and texture with its foliage all year. Versatile and trouble free, it can serve in a foundation planting, as a low hedge or as punctuation throughout the garden.


Common name: Mr. Bowling Ball arborvitae

Botanical name: Thuja occidentalis 'Bobozam'

Exposure: Full sun

Foliage: The evergreen foliage is narrow and threadlike. It is carried very densely, giving the shrub a puffball appearance. The color is light green in the growing season, taking on silvery tones in fall and winter.

Habit: Mr. Bowling Ball arborvitae gets its name from its dense, compact habit and round shape. This evergreen shrub slowly attains a size of two to three feet tall and wide.

Origin: The species Thuja occidentalis is native to much of central northeastern North America. The cultivar 'Bobozam', trademarked as Mr. Bowling Ball in 2003, was first discovered in a Linesville, Pa., nursery.

How to grow it: Plant this arborvitae in full sun and provide moderate water, making sure to keep the soil moist while the shrub is getting established in the soil over the first year or two. Be sure to provide water to both new and fully established arborvitae right up until the ground freezes if fall rains are scarce. They need to be fully hydrated heading into winter to help prevent sunscald and winter burn. USDA Zones 3–8.

Image credit: F.D. Richards/CC BY-SA 2.0