How to Grow and Care for the Deodar Cedar

Long-lived tree can be grown as a bonsai or giant beauty

Deodar cypress tress with weeping branches in front of forest

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

The deodar cedar (Cedrus deodara) is an evergreen conifer tree favored for its weeping habit (gracefully drooping branches) and pyramid shape. It is often used as a specimen tree in parks and other large gardens and can also be used to line streets. A dwarf variant, 'Snow Sprite,' was also developed for bonsai cultivation. 'Shalimar' is one of the most common varieties in the United States, known for for its hardiness.

This species is native to the western Himalayas. It grows in USDA zone 7 through 9, from the Pacific Coast down to Texas along the southern United States to the Eastern Seaboard. Its size is relatively big, growing up to 50 feet tall, although, in its native range, this tree can get even taller—up to 250 feet in height.

Deodar cedar grows at a moderate rate averaging between 1 to 2 feet annually; in ideal conditions, they can grow up to 3 feet yearly. It is also a long-lived tree, documented to live up to 1,000 years old.

It is in the Pinaceae family, which includes evergreen and deciduous conifers such as pine, spruce, and fir trees. Deodar cedar is used in lumber, although technically a softwood; it is very durable, and its oils are an insect repellent. The name deodar evolved from "devadaru," a Sanskrit word that translates to "timber of the gods." This tree is sacred in Hinduism.

Common Name Deodar cedar, Himalayan cedar
Botanical Name Cedrus deodara
Family Pinaceae
Plant Type Tree
Mature Size 20-50 ft. tall, 10-15 ft. wide
Sun Exposure Full
Soil Type Loamy, moist, sandy, clay, well-drained
Soil pH Acidic
Hardiness Zones 7-9 (USDA)
Native Area Asia

How to Identify Deodar Cedar Trees

Deodar cedar features pendulous, widespread swooping branches, forming a pyramidal-shaped tree, although, at full maturity, its top flattens, losing its pointy top. It has gray scaly bark.

Deodar cedar needles are 1 to 2 inches long, soft to the touch, appearing bluish-green, grayish-green, or silvery, depending on the cultivar. They are produced in whorls of 20 to 30 needles and appear individually on long shoots. Deodar cedars usually drop their old needles in later summer, fall, and spring, making way for new growth in spring. A disadvantage of this tree is it can get messy when losing its needles.

It can take up to 40 years to reach maturity, which is when its reddish-brown 3 to 6-inch oval cones start to bear fertile seeds.

Deodar Cedar Tree Care and Growing Conditions

Cedrus deodara is one of the true cedars and is the national tree in Pakistan. Other true cedars include the cedar of Lebanon (Cedrus libani) and the Atlas cedar (Cedrus atlantica), which comes in a weeping form. Deodar cedar trees are best propagated from seed and need plenty of space, a sunny spot, and slightly acidic, well-drained soil. The tree needs all that space because of its beautiful weeping branches, which will grow and spread. Avoid planting this tree in areas that get a lot of wind.

Deodar cedar tree trunk with extending branches and small needle-like leaves
The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova
Deodar cypress tree with weeping branches and long shoots of needles
The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova
Deodar cedar tree branch with short needles and bright green shoots
The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova
Tall deodar cypress tree with weeping extended branches
The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

When to Plant

Plant a deodar cedar sapling in the early spring months, right after the ground has thawed, or in the fall once the plant has gone dormant in preparation for winter. If you plant the tree in the fall, it won't need as much sun or water as in the spring.

How to Plant

Dig a hole at least three times as wide as the tree's root ball when planting. Add 25 percent compost, peat, or aged manure to the soil to help it drain, put the root ball in the hole, and return the soil and organic mix to surround the tree. Tamp the soil lightly, and water it thoroughly.

Light Requirements

A planting site with full sun is best for this evergreen tree, though it can tolerate partial shade.


Deodar cedar trees can be grown in various soil types, including loam, sand, and clay, as long as that soil is well-drained.


Once established, deodar cedars are somewhat drought-resistant. Give the tree plenty of water during the first few growing seasons. Ensure your soil offers good drainage because this species likes moist soil but cannot tolerate wet feet.

Temperature and Humidity

Of all the cedar trees, the deodar cedar has the best tolerance for heat and humidity.


Cedars don't necessarily need fertilizer, but you can fertilize the ground around the tree in the spring months before new growth begins. Test the pH level. Cedars like acidic soil down to about 5.5. If the soil isn't very acidic, use an acidifying fertilizer. Never fertilize the cedar more than once yearly, as too much nitrogen can cause root burn.

Types of Deodar Cedar

  • Cedrus deodara 'Albospica': A slow-growing cultivar with white or silver foliage
  • C. deodara 'Aurea': Features horizontal branches and golden needles; first described by botanist J. Nelson in 1866
  • C. deodara 'Golden Horizon': A dwarf variety that grows quickly but only up to 10 feet tall and has golden needles that turn yellow-green in the summer
  • C. deodara 'Feelin' Blue': Also a dwarf variety, features blue-green foliage and weeping branches; grows to about 6 feet tall and wide
  • C. deodara 'Kashmir': Showcases silvery blue-green foliage and can tolerate below-zero temperature
  • C. deodara 'Shalimar': Features a blue-green hue and excellent hardiness
  • C. deodara 'Snow Sprite': Dwarf variety is used for bonsai design


Deodar cedar is a low-maintenance tree. The only pruning usually needed is removing branches that have become dead, damaged, or diseased before new growth begins in the spring. If you need to prune, take extreme care—it's easy to cut away too much green that won't grow back, which could lead to the tree's death.

Propagating Deodar Cedar

It is not easy to propagate deodar cedar trees from cuttings or grafting. Propagating from seeds is the recommended way to go.

How to Grow Deodar Cedar From Seed

To grow a deodar cedar tree from seed will take a bit of patience and time. Here's how:

  1. Collect the cones from mature trees (at least 40 years old) in the fall months before they turn brown.
  2. Soak the cones in warm water for a day or two to make it easier to remove the seeds.
  3. Dry the cones and remove the seeds from the scales. Deodar cedar seeds have wings, so use a dry cloth to rub the wings, which will then separate from the seeds.
  4. Put the seeds in a zip lock bag and place in the refrigerator for two weeks.
  5. Plant seeds in a potting compost container and place them in indirect light, keeping the container at room temperature. Water until damp and let grow to a decent height before transplanting outdoors.

Potting and Repotting Deodar Cedar

You can grow deodar cedars from seed in planting boxes for several years until they reach transplanting height. The planter or container should have ample drainage holes; roots do not like soggy soil. Use a well-draining, slightly acidic potting compost.

Cedar tree roots require ample room to grow, so they may need repotting each year. Early springtime is the ideal time for repotting.

Common Pests and Diseases

Giant conifer aphids are known to attack the deodar cedar, though these infestations do not usually affect the tree enough to injure it severely. However, they produce a sticky liquid called honeydew which can fall to the ground and make everything tacky. To manage these aphids, spray high-pressure water to remove the pests and use insecticidal soap. In the spring, apply a systemic insecticide.

The biggest killers of deodar cedars are cedar bark beetles. Once you notice a deodar cedar is infested with beetles that leave extensive trails under the bark, it's usually too late to save the tree. Another sign is leaking sap and dead branch tips. If the beetles are only localized to one branch, cut off the branch; early intervention may preserve the tree.

Honey fungus (a parasitic mushroom) may develop on this tree, but it can be controlled by burying a physical barrier, such as a heavy-duty plastic sheet, in the soil. It can't be controlled with chemicals.

Root rot may occur if the soil is soggy, so ensure the tree is planted in soil that drains well. There may also be spots with sooty mold if honeydew is present from aphids. Cedar rust is another fungal disease that can create lesions in the plant.


Cedar is a softwood. So, heavy snow or ice accumulation can put a lot of pressure and strain on tree branches, causing limb breakage. Young branches need protection since young broken limbs may not grow back, permanently misshaping the tree.

To protect young deodar cedars, loosely wrap them in burlap or use a plant-safe netting around stakes placed close to the tree. Never wrap tightly since it can harm branches and cause girdling. Only use wraps during winters with heavy snowfall or snow sticking regularly. Remove the wrap when it looks like the coldest temperatures, winds, and the threat of heavy snowfall is over.

Common Issues With Deodar Cedar

If grown in the right environment, deodar cedars are easy to grow and hardy. However, several diseases, insects, and environmental conditions can cause problems for deodar cedars.

Discolored Needles Dropping Early

Deodar cedars are susceptible to excessive salts causing problems with unseasonal browning of needles and defoliation. This issue is particularly a problem where trees are used to line streets, and rock salt is used to melt snow and ice. These trees may recover in spring as the salts leech out of the soil.

Spider mites can also cause needle discoloration in the summer. If you notice branches bronzing or the presence of webs and tiny mites, spray water on these pests to wash them away. For larger infestations, use neem oil or insecticidal soap.

Tree Top Dying in Fall or Winter

If the tree crown or top part is dying or browning in the fall or winter, it can signify deodar weevils that attack most often in the colder months. Eventually, branches and twigs turn brown and die. Deodar weevils don't infest healthy trees; they usually go after trees suffering from drought, disease, or wind or cold damage.

Applying an insecticide is not the best course of action. Beneficial insects and wild birds that prey on them, like woodpeckers, are the best control. Thinning or removal of the infested tree helps control its spread to the other nearby conifers susceptible to this pest.

Tree Top Dying in Spring or Summer

Cedar rust is a fungal disease that creates cankers or lesions that are easy to spot, often girdling branches, severing nutrient transport, and oozing resinous sap. The tree usually starts browning or dying from the top down. If you notice this condition beginning in the spring or summer, it's likely rust. If you notice orange or yellowish jelly-like growths on branches, remove the branches to preserve the tree proactively.

A healthy tree can fight off the disease. However, a stressed, mature tree suffering from other mitigating factors may not survive and will probably die within a few years. Young trees will likely die within the year.

  • How long do deodar cedar trees last?

    The deodar cedar tree has been documented with an incredible lifespan of up to 1,000 years.

  • Does the deodar cedar tree attract wildlife?

    The deodar cedar tree attracts wild birds like woodpeckers that sit on its branches, make nests, and use it for cover and protection in winter.

  • What kills deodar cedar trees?

    The most common causes of death for deodar cedar trees are cedar bark beetle infestations and cedar rust.

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.
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  2. Cedrus deodara. University of Arizona College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Cooperative Extension.

  3. Fertilizing Trees and Shrubs. The University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension.

  4. July Q & A. University of California Cooperative Extension.

  5. Armillaria Root Rot of Trees and Shrubs. University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign College of Agricultural, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences.