How to Grow and Care for a Cedar of Lebanon Tree

Cedar of Lebanon tree on edge of ledge with wide-spreading branches

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

The cedar of Lebanon is a sprawling evergreen conifer reaching a height of over 100 feet, a stately addition to a large landscape and an excellent shade tree. Native to the eastern Mediterranean, it's considered to be one of the true cedars and it is the species that does best in cold temperatures.

The needles are a rich green or green-gray and quite fragrant. The tree is typically planted in late fall. Patient gardeners with enough land to properly host a cedar of Lebanon tree can expect a pyramid-shaped tree for the first 20 or so years that eventually flattens as it ages.

Common Name Cedar of Lebanon, Lebanese cedar
Botanical Name  Cedrus libani
Family Pinaceae
Plant Type Tree
Mature Size 40–100 ft. tall, 40–80 ft. wide
Sun Exposure Full
Soil Type Moist, well-drained
Soil pH Acidic
Hardiness Zones 5–9 (USDA)
Native Area Mediterranean

Lebanese Cedar Care

While there is no doubt the cedar of Lebanon tree is a beautiful varietal, it takes a special plot of land to play host to this green giant. Not only is the tree enormous, but its lifespan will far outlast that of its original owner, so a spot that can withstand its longevity is key. It does not take well to transplanting so it should be planted where it can stay.

Beyond that, caring for a cedar of Lebanon tree is rather straight-forward. It prefers well-drained soil and full sun in order to thrive. As the tree is getting established, you'll want to be mindful of extreme weather conditions that can damage its still-developing young branches. Make sure to plant the tree away from your home or other large structures that can be damaged by a falling tree should your cedar of Lebanon rot or come down unexpectedly.

Cedar of Lebanon trees with dark green and wide-spreading branches near base

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

Tall Cedar of Lebanon tree at top of hill against blue sky

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

Cedar of Lebanon branch with short needles and pinecone closeup

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

Cedar of Lebanon tree branch with small cones and small needle clusters

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

Cedar of Lebanon tree trunk and wide-spreading branches with dark green foliage

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

Light

Plant your cedar of Lebanon tree in a spot with at least eight to 10 hours of sunlight daily. This shouldn't be too hard to achieve—chances are, the tree will be the tallest thing in your landscape (at least, after a few years' time), so it's unlikely that it will be shaded by other trees and kept out of the sun.

Soil

Cedar of Lebanon trees prefer acidic soil, but can also be grown in soil with neutral and alkaline pH levels. When it comes to the composition of their soil, they will do best if planted in moist but well-drained soil. Any soil that is too mucky or poor draining will result in root rot and ultimate failure.

Water

Water your cedar of Lebanon plant deeply at least once a week, and make sure the soil doesn't dry out, especially in its first few years of life.

Temperature and Humidity

The cedar of Lebanon tree is a very adaptable varietal and can handle a range of temperatures both cold and warm. It can thrive in the hot heat of summer (similar to the conditions in its native land), and withstand very low temperatures in winter.

Fertilizer

Fertilize your cedar of Lebanon tree from the end of winter to the end of spring, using a complete all-purpose fertilizer that is slow-release. You do not need to fertilize the plant from the spring on. During the tree's first two years of life, it's wise to choose a fertilizer mixture that also includes phosphorous to encourage strong roots.

Types of Lebanese Cedar

There are two dwarf varieties of Lebanese cedar, both used for bonsai growing:

  • C. libani 'Green Prince' (sometimes erroneously referred to as 'Green Knight'). After ten years, this extremely slowly growing variety (2 to 3 inches per year) reaches only 3 feet in height.
  • C. libani 'Katere' is a cultivar with a maximum height of 6 feet. It was bred in New Zealand.

Pruning

The cedar of Lebanon tree can be pruned to form a central leader if desired, as it may form several different ones if left alone. However, the multiple leaders help the tree form into an attractive shape. Any pruning should be done during the fall and only be done to trees that have matured beyond their first few years of life. Altogether, pruning is not totally unnecessary unless done for aesthetic or safety purposes.

Propagating Lebanese Cedar

Cuttings of Lebanese cedar are virtually impossible to root. The only method of propgaation is from seed.

How to Grow Lebanese Cedar From Seed

To grow the tree from seed takes patience but it can be done.

  • Start by collecting several cones from an established tree. Place the cones in a paper bag and store them in a cool, dry place until the cones "ripen," indicated by the scales cracking open and spilling their seeds.
  • Soak the seeds in a bucket of water for three hours or more. Discard any seeds that float (they're not viable) and collect any that sink.
  • To activate germination, wrap the viable seeds in a moistened cheesecloth or paper towel and place them in a plastic bag. Store in the refrigerator for one month, making sure to mist the cloth whenever it feels dry to the touch.
  • When the time comes to plant your tree, prepare pots (as many as you have seeds) that are at least 3 inches deep and filled with a mixture of potting mix. Coat the seeds with powdered fungicide then place each one in its individual pot, topping them with more sand and peat mixture. Water until the mixture settles and water runs from the drainage holes in the base of the pot.
  • Place the pots somewhere that will get at least six hours of sunlight a day and watch for germination. Once you notice the seeds have germinated, transplant the seedlings into larger gallon-sized containers to grow through the winter. The saplings can then be planted in the landscape in the spring after the last frost has passed.

Potting and Repotting

Due to its size, Lebanese cedar is not suitable to be grown in pots but it can be trained as a bonsai.

Overwintering

The tree is hardy to USDA zone 5 and needs to winter protection. The roots of a potted bonsai, however, might need to be insulated against winter cold by wrapping the container in burlap and bubble wrap, or placed in an insulating silo for overwintering.

Common Pests & Plant Diseases

There are not too many problems associated with cedar of Lebanon trees. You may see some aphids on the tree, which can be naturally managed by ladybugs or removed simply by spraying them off the branch with water.

Root rot is another issue but can be rectified by maintaining well-draining soil.

FAQ
  • What is so special about Lebanese cedar?

    The tree is known for its longevity—it can live 600 years or more.

  • What climate does Lebanese cedar grow in?

    In its native mountain climate the tree gets lots of precipitation in the winter, mainly as snow. and it withstands drought in the summer.

  • What's the growth rate of the Lebanese cedar?

    The tree grows slowly, only adding about 10 to 15 inches a year in height.

Article Sources
The Spruce uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Cedrus libani 'Green Prince'. American Conifer Society.

  2. Cedrus libani. North Carolina Cooperative Extension.