Plant of the Week: TATER TOT® Arborvitae

Earlier this week, when I was still enjoying some leftover taters from Thanksgiving, I dashed off a post about four dwarf evergreens that are perfectly delightful in winter gardens. As I was posting, I realized I’ve never written about sweet little Tater Tot® arborvitae! Let’s rectify that.


Tater Tot Thuja occidentalis is an irresistible little globe evergreen. It naturally grows as a tidy ball of fragrant, fan-like evergreen foliage. It’s quite tolerant of shade as well, so you can plant it just about anywhere and enjoy year-round beauty from this easy-care evergreen.

Maturing at just 1-2′ tall and wide, you can use it in so many garden spaces, including containers! Because Tater Tot arborvitae is a native species, it’s easy to care for and super cold hardy, down to USDA zone 3 (-40°F/-40°C).

Note: Here in the north, it’s really too late to plant anything, including evergreens, even if it’s warmed up a bit. Plan on adding them to your gardens or containers in spring so they have a season to acclimate, and you can enjoy them next winter!

Tater Tot history

According to Wikipedia, the food product Tater Tots was invented in 1953 when the founders of Ore-Ida were trying to find a use for leftover slivers of cut-up potatoes. They chopped them up, added flour and seasoning, then sliced off pieces of the extruded mixture. BAM, Tater Tots.

Originally, the product didn’t cost much, but people didn’t buy it because there was no perceived value. When the price was raised, the love affair with tater Tots began. Today, Americans consume approximately 70,000,000 pounds of Tater Tots – or 3,710,000,000 Tots – per year. That’s a lot of Tots.

Here is some more history. Originally called Tiny Tot, Tater Tot arborvitae had to be renamed because of copyright issues. I have to say, Tater Tot has really grown on me. Hopefully, it will be as popular as its potato namesake.

The lesson here is, whether you’re talking plants or potatoes, there’s always room for another little Tater Tot!

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