Arborvitae mr bowling ball

Mr. Bowling Ball Arborvitae: Tips For Growing A Mr. Bowling Ball Plant

Plant names often give a glimpse into the form, color, size and other characteristics. Mr. Bowling Ball Thuja is no exception. The resemblance to its namesake as a domed plant that snugs into awkward spaces in the garden makes this arborvitae an attractive addition. Try growing a Mr. Bowling Ball in your landscape and capture the ease of care for which arborvitae are known combined with this hybrid’s chubby form.

About Mr. Bowling Ball Thuja

Arborvitae are common ornamental shrubs. The specimen Mr. Bowling Ball arborvitae has curved appeal that needs no pruning to keep it in true form. This charming shrub is a rounded ball-like plant with a perky appearance and compact shape. While not readily available at many nursery centers, the plant is easy to order from online catalogs.

What’s in a name? This arborvitae is also known as Bobozam arborvitae. Thuja occidentalis ‘Bobozam’ is a cultivar of American arborvitae, a native shrub to North America. It has a naturally dense form that is a dwarf of the

native shrub. The plant matures up to 3 feet (.91 m.) with a similar width. (Note: You may also find this plant under the synonym Thuja occidentalis ‘Linesville.’)

The bright green, evergreen foliage swirls around the balled form and is softly lacy. The almost unnoticed bark is gray with rusty red furrows. Bobozam arborvitae grows so close to the ground that the foliage mostly covers this classic bark of the false cedar family. Tiny cones appear in late summer but are of little ornamental interest.

Growing a Mr. Bowling Ball Shrub

The Mr. Bowling Ball shrub is very tolerant of a range of conditions. It prefers full sun but can also grow in partial shade. This plant is suitable in United States Department of Agriculture zones 3 to 7. It thrives in a variety of soil types, including hard clay. Best appearance will be achieved in sites that are moderately moist with a pH anywhere from alkaline to neutral.

Once established, Mr. Bowling Ball arborvitae can tolerate brief periods of drought but sustained dryness will eventually impact growth. This is a cool to temperate region plant that loves rain and has year around appeal. Even tough winters don’t diminish the spectacular foliage.

If you want a low maintenance plant, Mr. Bowling Ball shrub is the plant for you. Keep new plants well watered until the root mass spreads and adapts. During summer, water deeply and again when the top of the soil is dry. Mulch around the base of the plant to help conserve moisture and prevent competitive weeds.

This arborvitae is pest and disease resistant. Fungal leaf blight may occur, causing spotted foliage. The only occasional pests might be leaf miners, spider mites, scale and bagworms. Use horticultural oils and manual methods to combat.

Feed this marvelous plant once per year in early spring to enhance the foliage and keep Mr. Bowling Ball happy.

Mr. Bowling Ball Arborvitae

Mr. Bowling Ball Arborvitae

(Photo courtesy of NetPS Plant Finder)

Height: 30 inches

Spread: 30 inches


Hardiness Zone: 4

Other Names: Eastern White Cedar


This tiny shrub just demands to be loved by all gardeners, with very unusual threadlike sage-green foliage and an extremely dwarf, compact form that requires no pruning to maintain its perfectly rounded shape; ideal for rock gardens and detail use

Ornamental Features

Mr. Bowling Ball Arborvitae has attractive grayish green foliage. The threadlike leaves are highly ornamental and remain grayish green throughout the winter. Neither the flowers nor the fruit are ornamentally significant.

Landscape Attributes

Mr. Bowling Ball Arborvitae is a dense multi-stemmed evergreen shrub with a more or less rounded form. It lends an extremely fine and delicate texture to the landscape composition which should be used to full effect.

This is a relatively low maintenance shrub. When pruning is necessary, it is recommended to only trim back the new growth of the current season, other than to remove any dieback. It has no significant negative characteristics.

Mr. Bowling Ball Arborvitae is recommended for the following landscape applications;

  • Mass Planting
  • Rock/Alpine Gardens
  • General Garden Use
  • Container Planting

Planting & Growing

Mr. Bowling Ball Arborvitae will grow to be about 30 inches tall at maturity, with a spread of 30 inches. It tends to fill out right to the ground and therefore doesn’t necessarily require facer plants in front. It grows at a slow rate, and under ideal conditions can be expected to live for approximately 30 years.

This shrub does best in full sun to partial shade. It prefers to grow in average to moist conditions, and shouldn’t be allowed to dry out. It is not particular as to soil type or pH. It is somewhat tolerant of urban pollution, and will benefit from being planted in a relatively sheltered location. Consider applying a thick mulch around the root zone in winter to protect it in exposed locations or colder microclimates. This is a selection of a native North American species.

Mr. Bowling Ball Arborvitae makes a fine choice for the outdoor landscape, but it is also well-suited for use in outdoor pots and containers. It can be used either as ‘filler’ or as a ‘thriller’ in the ‘spiller-thriller-filler’ container combination, depending on the height and form of the other plants used in the container planting. Note that when grown in a container, it may not perform exactly as indicated on the tag – this is to be expected. Also note that when growing plants in outdoor containers and baskets, they may require more frequent waterings than they would in the yard or garden.

Thuja occidentalis ‘Mr BOWLING BALL’

  • STANDARD QUALITY – Plants of this group are 1st class quality with number of branches and overall density adequate to their size and age, considering they were container grown.
  • DE LUXE QUALITY – This label guarantees a luxurious quality of manually selected plants that, compared to their height and age, are exceptionally dense and beautiful.
  • EXTRA – These plants are usually mature and bigger specimens with exceptional overall appearance.
  • STANDARD (as described in the plant form) means a tree with a trunk of 190-210 cm and a crown at the top, unless specified differently. The commercial size for trees is their girth measured in the height of 1m from ground.
  • HOBBY – These plants are of the same quality as our standard-quality plants but younger and therefore cheaper.
  • SHRUB – a woody plant with branches growing bushy from the ground level.
  • HALF-STANDARD or MINI-STANDARD – a small tree with shorter trunk, its size is usually specified.
  • FEATHERED – These are trees with branches growing already from the base of the trunk and up along the stem.
  • GRASSES and PERENNIALS – Sizes given usually read the diameter of the pot or the clump, as specified.

Plant primer: Mr. Bowling Ball arborvitae

Is there an evergreen shrub that doesn’t need to be sheared or pruned to keep its shape? The answer is Mr. Bowling Ball arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis ‘Bobazam’).

Mr. Bowling Ball arborvitae


2 to 3 feet


2 to 3 feet

Hardiness: Zone 3

Origin: North America

Is there an evergreen shrub that doesn’t need to be sheared or pruned to keep its shape? The answer is Mr. Bowling Ball arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis ‘Bobazam’).

The shrub is petite but provides a punch. The foliage is sage green with a slight blue cast in sunlight. The needles are short with a fine texture. Just as its name describes, this arborvitae grows in a round shape and maintains that shape without help. Its foliage reaches the ground.

The plant adapts to many growing conditions and can even endure some standing water. It does well in garden borders, mass plantings, rock gardens and container gardens.

Mr. Bowling Ball arborvitae can be seen in the Crane Conifer and Ornamental Grass Collection at the Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens.

— Barbara Arnold,

Franklin Park Conservatory

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *