Deodar cedar, or just “deodar” (the name used in its native India), is a large stately conifer with horizontal spreading branches and a conical shape. It can grow to 150 ft (45.7 m) tall with a 40 ft (12.2 m) spread at ground level. More typically, though, they stay less than 50 ft (15.2 m) tall but specimens in their native range have been found more than 200 ft (61 m) tall! Lower branches bend gracefully downward and then up again. Branchlets are densely pubescent and droop downward at the tips. The stiff, needle-like leaves are about 2 in (5.1 cm) long and borne in dense whorls of 20-30 per cluster. Male banana-shaped catkins produce clouds of yellow, wind-blown pollen in early spring. The bluish green female cones are 3-5 in (7.6-12.7 cm) long and egg shaped. After two years they shatter and release little seeds with papery wings. The bark is dark brown to nearly black, smooth on young trees and becoming fissured with age.
Deodar is fairly fast growing for the first decade or two, growing as high as 30 ft (9.1 m) in its first 10 years. It is a long-lived and troublefree tree in most areas. Deodar needs neutral to alkaline soil.
Light: Full sun. (In whose shade is a 200 ft (61 m) tree going to grow?)
Moisture: Once established, deodar is drought tolerant.
Hardiness: USDA Zones 7 – 9. Cultivars ‘Kashmir’ and ‘Shalimar’ are hardy to zone 6.
Propagation: Selected cultivars usually are grafted onto seedlings. Seeds need specialized pre-treatment before they will germinate.
Most cultivars of deodar will grow into large and handsome specimen trees that need plenty of room. Use these in the back of a large landscape so they can be seen in their entirety. From a distance, deodar is dense and plumose, with a fine texture, and the tip of the tree seems to wave in the breeze. Some cultivars are smaller and more shrublike. With proper pruning most deodars can be maintained as bushy shrubs.