Yew: recommendations for planting and care in open ground

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Yew: recommendations for planting and care in open ground
Yew: recommendations for planting and care in open ground

The characteristic features of the yew plant, how to plant and care when growing in the garden, advice on breeding, combating diseases and pests, interesting notes and applications, species and varieties.

Yew (Taxus) belongs to the botanical classification of the Yew family (Taxaceae). According to the information provided by The Plant List, the genus of yews includes nine species, although most of them only know 8 of them. All representatives of the genus grow on the territory of Asia and the North American continent, on the lands of the Far East and in the northern regions of Africa, and yew plantations in Europe are also not uncommon. In this case, the distribution is as follows:

  • three units of Asian and Far Eastern species;
  • one species is found in the North African and European region;
  • 4 species are native to North America.
Family name Yew
Growing period Perennial
Vegetation form Shrub or tree
Breeds Using seeds and rooting cuttings
Open ground transplant terms From August to October
Planting recommendations For group plantings between seedlings leave 1, 5-2 m, when forming a fence about 0.5 m
The soil Lightweight, fertile and well-drained
Soil acidity values, pH Not lower than 6 (not acidic soil)
Illumination level Well-lit location
Humidity level Young plants are watered systematically once a month, adults - in case of prolonged drought
Special care rules Fertilizing every year and systematic pruning
Height options Shrubs 1-10 m, trees 20-30 m
Flowering period March, April
Shade and length of needles Dark emerald, 2, 5-3 cm
Flower shape Female flowers resemble buds, male bumps
Fruit type On female plants - bright red berries
The timing of fruit ripening After flowering
Decorative period Year-round
Application in landscape design For creating "sculptural" compositions, landscaping alleys and garden paths, forming hedges
USDA zone 5 and more

The yew got its scientific name thanks to the term "Taxus", which is rooted in the ancient Greek word "Taxson", which has the translation "bow". This is because the wood of the plant, which is distinguished by its strength and flexibility, was used to make such weapons and spears. In addition, yews have the property of releasing a deadly poisonous substance, which was used to coat arrowheads. According to some versions, it was with the help of such poisonous arrows that such rulers of England as William Rufus, as well as Harold and Richard the Lionheart, were killed. The origin of the Russian name is not known.

All types of yews are perennials that take shrub or tree-like forms. Plant height can vary within 1–10 m. However, if the species has a tree-like shape, then its parameters are 20–30 m, the trunk diameter is 4 m. The bark has a brownish-red hue and a scaly structure. The crown of plants takes on an ovoid-cylindrical contour, often multi-vertex. Branches are whorled. Yew needles are flat and soft to the touch. The color of the coniferous mass is dark emerald. The needles on the lateral branches differ in two rows, and on the stems they have a spiral arrangement. In length, yew needles can vary in the range of 2-3, 5 cm.

All yews are dioecious, that is, on a certain plant, only male (staminate) or female (pistillate) flowers can open. The flowering period (this process in yews can be called conditionally) falls on March-April. On female plants in the leaf axils, flowers are formed, somewhat similar to buds, male yews are decorated with flowers with the shape of cones.

At the same time, it is curious that cones on these plants, unlike other representatives of conifers, will form only on male specimens, and on female specimens, brown seeds will appear, surrounded by scales that resemble a bowl. It is distinguished by its bright red color and fleshy texture. Such fruits in the yew are called berries. After pollination occurs, then on the female specimens such "berries", painted in a rich red color, will be tied. The fruits remain on the shoots until the onset of cold weather.


It is noteworthy that only the "calyx" is the part that does not contain a poisonous substance in the yew. When such yew "fruits" are eaten, there will be no harm to humans, birds or animals.

Due to these features, in winter, the berries are eagerly eaten by birds, which contribute to the spread of seeds over long distances. The plant is not difficult to care for and can be used for effective gardening of the site, but it should be remembered when cultivating and placing in the garden that all species are poisonous, therefore they are planted so as to exclude the possibility of access to small children.

How to plant and care for yew outdoors?

Yew bush
  1. Landing place it is recommended to choose such conifers with good lighting. Do not plant them in lowlands or near groundwater. Draft protection will be needed for the first three years.
  2. Yew soil it is recommended to select light, nutritious and provides good drainage. Often, gardeners independently mix soil from river sand, peat crumbs, leaf or sod substrate, in a ratio of 2: 2: 3. However, it was noticed that the plant shows good growth even on a poorer composition. Planting in very acidic and waterlogged soil is not recommended. Before planting, nitroammofoska is mixed into the soil mixture prepared for yew (based on 1 liter of substrate 1 gram of the drug) or a complete mineral complex, like Kemira-Universal (for each 1 m2, using 100 grams). You can also use copper sulfate, which is taken for 1 liter of soil 15 grams.
  3. Planting a yew tree is performed from the fourth decade of August to the beginning of October. If cultivation is carried out in the southern regions, then there is an opportunity to plant until mid-autumn. In more northern zones (with short summers), yew plants are planted in the last days of summer or with the arrival of September. If the seedling is purchased in a container (with a closed root system), then planting can be done throughout the entire vegetative activity, but it is also worth focusing on the climate in the cultivation zone. In regions with mild winters, this time is no later than October, in cold climates - until the second half of September.
  4. Yew planting rules. Planting pits are prepared with a depth of at least 70 cm with a diameter of 20 cm exceeding the volume of the root system, together with an earthen lump. The distance between seedlings in a group planting should be left 1.5–2 m. If a hedge is being formed, yew plants are planted in a groove, deepening about 50–70 cm, leaving about half a meter between them. When the pit is ready, drainage is poured into it in the first layer, approximately 20 cm thick. The drainage composition is coarse-grained sand or expanded clay, small pieces of crushed brick, crushed stone or pebbles. When the root system of the yew seedling is closed (it grows in a container), the plant is watered to facilitate removal from the container.Then it is placed in the landing recess, filling the free space with soil prepared in advance, combined with top dressing (its composition is indicated above). An important rule when planting a yew tree is the location of the root collar of the seedling - it is located at the same level as the soil on the site. After planting, abundant watering and mulching of the near-trunk zone is carried out. Peat chips or compost are used for this.
  5. Watering when growing yew, it is required to carry out systematically, for plants that have not reached 3 years of age. The soil is moistened monthly, and for each instance there should be 10-15 liters of water for each watering. When the yew plantations mature, they do not need watering, since with normal precipitation they have enough natural moisture. It is because of the powerful root system that yews are able to extract moisture on dry days, even from deep soil layers. But with prolonged droughts, you will still have to water the plants, as well as sprinkle the crown. After each rain or watering, it is necessary to loosen the substrate in the root zone of the yew tree. The depth of loosening should be 10-15 cm. This is especially important in the first three years from the moment of planting young plants. This will ensure that the soil will not be crusted from above and will not block the access of air and moisture to the roots. It is recommended to combine weeding with loosening, since harmful insects often settle on them. In order for watering and loosening of the soil to be infrequent, it is recommended to mulch the near-trunk zone of the yew trunk; for this, needles, peat chips or sawdust are suitable. The thickness of such a layer will be 8–10 cm.
  6. Fertilizers when growing, yew must be introduced into the ground during planting and usually they are enough for the entire growing season. Subsequently, the plants will have to be fed annually using nitroammofoska (50–70 grams per 1 m2) or full universal preparations such as Kemira-Universal (100 grams are recommended for 1 m2).
  7. Pruning when cultivating yew in the first years, it is not carried out, since the plant is characterized by a low growth rate. When the specimen becomes an adult, then its crown lends itself well to formation. Even if the haircut was carried out very strongly, then this will not damage the yew. However, it is recommended to shorten the yew shoots by only one third of their length. After winter, it is necessary to cut out all dried up branches or those that have been damaged by frost or have broken during the winter. It is worth ridding the crown of the yew from shoots affected by diseases or growing inward. The best time for pruning is the first week of April, before the buds begin to swell.
  8. Yew transplant carried out if necessary in the spring. The time will depend on how much the soil warms up. To do this, it is recommended that you first choose a place for planting, and then dig a hole corresponding to the volume of the yew root system, as indicated above. The bush (or tree) is carefully removed from the substrate and installed in a prepared planting pit. When the plant is located, it is required that its root collar is flush with the soil surface on the site. When the transplant is completed, abundant watering is carried out, and the yew tree trunk is mulched using organic matter (peat or dry foliage).
  9. Preparing for winter. When deciduous plants in the garden are completely free of their cover, it is recommended to spray the yew plantations with fungicidal preparations (for example, Fundazol) to prevent diseases or the appearance of pests. If there are yews in the garden, the age of which has not reached three years, or ornamental species or varieties are grown, then they are definitely required. To do this, it is necessary to cover the soil in the near-trunk circle with a layer of fallen dry leaves or peat, the thickness of which will be 5–7 cm.Since young yew plants are distinguished by rather fragile branches, in winter, under the weight of the snow cap, they can easily break off, so it is recommended to carefully bring the shoots closer to the trunk with a twine and pull them into a bunch.
  10. Yew wintering. Usually young plants are exposed to frostbite. If, according to forecasts, winter is expected to be snowless and very frosty, it is recommended to provide shelter. First, you need to form a special frame of wooden planks. The base is made in such a way that there is enough free space between it and the plant. After that, the frame is wrapped in a nonwoven material (for example, spunbond or lutrosil). Burlap should not be used, because during the thaw it becomes wet and then it is covered with an ice crust. You should not use roofing material or plastic wrap instead of agrotechnical, which will prevent air from penetrating to the branches of the yew. Only when the soil warms up enough with the arrival of spring can the shelter be removed from the yew plants. However, during this period, it is necessary to protect the yew from direct solar streams, which can cause yellowing of the needles. This is due to the fact that with the arrival of spring, when the weather is cloudless and windy, the root system, which has not yet fully recovered after winter, cannot absorb moisture in normal mode, and then evaporation begins from the surface of the needles. It is this aspect that causes slight injury to the yews.
  11. The use of yew in landscape design. Due to its decorative crown, the plant looks successfully in any compositions from representatives of garden flora. Since yew trees vary very much in size and shape, it is possible, depending on the selected specimen, to plant it as a tapeworm, decorating rock gardens of large and small sizes. Since yews are easy to cut, with the help of such plantings it is possible to form a hedge or to model a variety of sculptural forms. Yew plantings are recommended in gardens or mixborders (for example, shorn or free growing yew). Good neighbors will be other representatives of conifers with a different color and shape of coniferous mass or rhododendrons.

Read about farming techniques for growing griselines at home and in the garden.

Yew tree propagation tips

Yew in the ground

These shrubs and trees can be grown with seeds or rooted by cuttings. The first method (generative) is laborious, since the grown seedlings can rarely retain the properties of the parent plants. It is because of this that gardeners prefer the second method - cuttings.

Propagation of yew by cuttings

This method does not require a lot of time and makes it possible to obtain young seedlings that completely repeat the characteristics of the mother culture. Cutting of blanks is carried out from stems that have reached 3-5 years of age. Slicing is done with the arrival of September or between April and May. The length of the branches should be about 15–20 cm. The bark is removed from the lower part of the yew stalk and placed in a solution to stimulate root formation (for example, in Kornevin or Heteroauxin). After that, you can plant the workpieces in containers (boxes or pots) with a soil mixture, combined from sand and high-moor peat. The ratio of parts is kept in a ratio of 1: 2.

When grafting in autumn, it is recommended to put the planted seedlings in a warm place with room temperature (about 20-24 degrees) until spring. And only when warm weather sets in and return frosts recede, cuttings are transplanted to a permanent place in the garden. With spring cuttings, cuttings are first planted in greenhouse conditions (under the film). After rooting is successful (new buds will indicate this), you can transplant yew seedlings into open ground.

Usually, the rooting of yew cuttings takes 3-4 months. Maintenance during this time should ensure consistently moist soil and regular ventilation. The shelter from the yew seedlings can be removed only when the end of August comes. This will help young yew plants to adapt to the subsequent cold snap.


For the next three years from the moment of rooting, young yews are recommended to be covered for the winter, so that the root system does not suffer from frost.

Propagation of yew with seeds

This method, as mentioned earlier, requires considerable effort and time, therefore it is used for the propagation of species plants or in breeding works in order to obtain new varieties. If you want to try your hand, it is important that the seed is stored according to the rules and then its germination will not be lost over a four-year period. It is recommended to sow yew seeds immediately after the autumn harvest. If it is decided to sow in spring, then the seeds require stratification in cold conditions for at least 6 months. In this case, the temperature should be maintained within 3-5 degrees. You can put yew seeds on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator and keep them there until sowing. Stratification will increase germination.

Yew seeds should be sown in early spring in seedling boxes filled with disinfected substrate. Their backlash should be no more than 0.5 cm. A piece of glass is placed on top of the container or wrapped in a plastic transparent film. For germination, the crops are placed in a warm place and cared for for almost two months. If stratification was not carried out, then it will be possible to see yew sprouts only after 1-3 years.

When a couple of years have passed since the germination of yew seeds, young seedlings are dived, moving to the garden bed, providing greenhouse conditions. And only after the expiration of a two-year period, it will be possible to plant the grown yews in open ground in a school (training bed). This is necessary for growing seedlings, which will take 3-4 years, and then they will be ready for transplanting into the garden.


It happens that the yew reproduces with the help of grafting in the butt. This method can only be suitable for experienced gardeners who know how to perform the indicated operation.

Disease and pest control methods when growing yew in the garden

Yew grows

Despite the saturation with poisonous substances, such yew plants can, like many of the garden representatives of the flora, suffer from diseases caused by violation of the rules of agricultural technology, and be attacked by harmful insects.

The main diseases that cause damage to the yew tree are fusarium, brown shute and necrosis. The symptoms of these diseases are quite diverse, but the main characteristic is a change in the type of coniferous mass. Often the cause of these problems is mechanical damage to the plant bark. In such "wounds" there is a possibility of getting fungal infections that provoke diseases. For the most part, those plants that are planted in low-lying locations with the presence of heavy clay soil get sick.

It is important to ensure high-quality drainage when planting, as well as to take measures to remove excess moisture from the substrate. For the latter aspect, it is recommended to drive pieces of pipes made of plastic into the ground around the perimeter of the yew in the near-stem zone. The length of such segments should be about 30 cm. It is recommended to spray a diseased plant with biofungicides (for example, Ultrafit or Fitosporin-M). For prevention, yew plantations in the spring and autumn should be treated with fungicidal agents, which contain copper.

Of the pests that can infect yew, yew false scutes and gall midges are isolated, which suck out cell juices from the plant. Such harmful insects as pine scoops and needle-eating leaf rollers can damage the coniferous mass.

Symptoms of the presence of pests on the yew is not only the yellowing of the needles, but also the branches, which subsequently dry out and die off. Experienced gardeners recommend carrying out robots for processing in early spring (before the beginning of the growing season) yew bushes and trees, as well as their near-trunk zone, with insecticidal solutions such as Karbofos and Kitrafen. If these pests are found during the period from spring to autumn, all aerial parts of the plant should be sprayed 2-3 times with such an insecticide as Rogor or with a similar spectrum of action.

The yew tree trunk should also be processed. Usually, in order to completely destroy the pests, one spraying is not enough, since new individuals will hatch from the eggs laid, so it is worth repeating the treatment with the same agent after 10-12 days.

Read also about diseases and pests of Grevillea

Interesting notes and the use of yew

Yew Berries

The wood of the plant is characterized by its durability. Such a material has the property of taking on the color and texture of fresh meat in a moist state. If you cut a hollow tree, it will feel like it is secreting blood. Because of this, yews have long been considered especially revered. It is curious that in the southeastern region of England, namely in Clacton, a spear made of wood was discovered during archaeological excavations. Upon study, it became clear that it was made of yew wood and its age reaches 250 thousand years. To date, this find is the oldest artifact made of wood.

Also, yews, in addition to poisonous, also have healing properties. In ancient times, with the help of yew, they got rid of snake and rabid animal bites.


Although the berries are harmless to humans, the seeds are dangerous, since the poison that saturates them is absorbed in a few seconds. In small doses, this substance slows down the heart and can cause collapse or provoke gastroenteritis. Large doses can lead to sudden death.

A substance such as the alkaloid taxol, found in yew needles, is used to get rid of ovarian cancer. Currently, many scientific laboratories and pharmaceutical companies are purchasing sheared yew needles for research. If we talk about homeopathic preparations, then on the basis of yew needles, tinctures are prepared in water or alcohol (tincture), which is prescribed to relieve symptoms and eliminate headaches and neurological problems, cystitis and darkening of vision. You can use such medicines for diseases of the heart, kidneys and urinary tract, which are infectious. The manifestations of gout, rheumatism and arthritis are removed.

There is a preparation "Greenman's Yew Essence", which serves to stimulate memory, restore sound thinking. Such a remedy will help to strengthen the immune system and awaken energy. This essence is used as a talisman against troubles, since, according to beliefs, it can bring to life manifestations related to the strength of the spirit, which can strengthen faith in survival and provide protection.

Description of the types and varieties of yew

In the photo, Canadian Tees

Canadian yew (Taxus canadensis)

it is represented by a tree with a bush-like shape and branches practically lying on the surface of the ground. Its height does not exceed 2 m. The native area of ​​natural growth falls on the lands of the eastern regions of the North American continent. The branches grow ascending. The stems are small in length, they are covered with numerous needles. The outlines of the needles are curved-sickle-shaped, with a sharply pointed apex. The upper side of the needles is yellowish-green, the back is pale greenish, it is decorated with stripes of a lighter tone.

Canadian yew has high frost resistance, can successfully survive a decrease in the thermometer to -35 degrees. Similar properties in a plant appear when it reaches the age of 3.The most popular varieties for cultivation are:

  • Aurea characterized by a shrub species and dwarf height dimensions. Its branches with abundant branching do not exceed 1 m. The coniferous mass has a yellow color, the length of the needles is small.
  • Pyramidalis) evergreen shrub, characterized by short stature. When the plant is young, then its crown is pyramidal, with age it takes on an increasingly loose structure.
In the photo, Yew pointed

Pointed Yew (Taxus cuspidata)

can naturally grow on the lands of the Far East and Japan, and also occurs in Manchuria and Korea. It has a conservation and conservation status. It has a tree-like shape, and then it reaches 7 m in height, in rare cases it grows up to 20. With a shrub form, it does not exceed 1.5 m in height. The crown takes on irregular outlines or oval, the arrangement of branches in a horizontal plane. The color of young stems and petioles is light yellowish; it is characteristic that this color is more intense on the reverse side.

The needles of the pointed yew are sickle-shaped and wide. The vein in the center on their surface is very protruding. The upper side of the softwood mass is dark emerald color, thickening almost to coal black, while the back surface is much lighter in color. The seeds formed on female plants are oval in shape and slightly flattened, there is a pointed tip at the top. Surrounded by a seed-plant - a calyx, characterized by fleshiness and a pale reddish or pink hue.

The pointed yew has increased frost resistance, but while the bush is young for the winter, it is recommended to provide shelter. Popular varieties:

  • Nana represented by a low-growing plant, the branches of which reach only 1 m in height. The branches are characterized by strong outlines and flattening on the soil surface. Crohn with irregular contours. The needles have a very fluffy structure. The color of linear needles is dark emerald. The length of the needles is 2.5 cm.
  • Minima is a variety of pointed yew, which is characterized by the lowest parameters of height - only 30 cm. The bark on the stems is brown, the needles are dark greenish, the surface of the coniferous mass is glossy, the outlines are elongated-lanceolate.
  • Farmen has a dwarf size and shrub growth. The crown height does not exceed 2 m, the diameter is not more than 3.5 m. The branches are covered with brownish-red bark and whitish spots appear on their surface. The tip of the needles is pointed, its color is dark emerald. The needles are placed radially.
  • Capitata - a variety of pointed yew characterized by the presence of male and female forms. May have one or more trunks. The crown of the plant takes on strict skittles.
  • Columnaris a plant that takes a wide-columnar crown shape. The coniferous mass has a dark color.
  • Dance (Dance). The female form is characterized by wide and rather flattened outlines. Reaching half a century, the tree can stretch up to 120 cm in height, while the diameter of its crown is equal to 6 m. The needles are dark green in color.
In the photo Short-leaved yew

Short-leaved yew (Taxus brevifolia)

may occur with the name Taxus baccata var. brevifolia. The species originates from the western regions of the North American continent. It has a tree or shrub shape, in the first case the height varies within 15-25 m, in the second it does not exceed a 5-meter mark. The outlines of the crown are broad-type. The bark tends to flake off in pieces. The limbs grow straight from the trunk and are comparatively thin. The branches grow slightly drooping. The needles have a sharp sharpening at the top, their color is greenish-yellow. The length of the needles of the short-leaved yew reaches 2 cm with a width of only 2 mm. The needles are placed in two rows. The seed contours are ovoid, with 1–2 pairs of facets visible on the surface.Seeds can be measured in length up to half a centimeter. On top of the seeds there are seedlings painted in a rich red color.

Pictured Yew berry

Berry yew (Taxus baccata)

is the most common species in Asia Minor, in Western European regions, not uncommon in the Caucasus. Preference in growth is given to mountain forests with sandy soil, and it happens that the plant does not disdain a swampy substrate. Crown height varies in the range of 17–27 m. By means of shoots it is splendid, takes on ovoid-cylindrical outlines, but specimens with numerous peaks can be found.

The trunk of the berry yew is characterized by a ribbed surface, it is covered with a grayish-red bark. As the plant matures, the bark begins to flake off in the form of plates. The arrangement of the needles is spiral, but on the lateral branches they grow in two rows. The needles are flat, the color of its upper side is dark green, the surface is glossy. On the reverse side, the coniferous mass is matte, yellow-greenish color. The variety is characterized by many garden forms, divided according to the following classification:

  1. Compacta represented by a plant with dwarf height dimensions, their value slightly exceeds one meter. The crown has rounded outlines, its diameter is also one meter in size. Branches from the trunk are arranged in an even order. The needles have the shape of a sickle, from above they cast a gloss, their color is dark green. The reverse side is much lighter in tone.
  2. Erecta - a variety of yew berry, characterized by a shrub shape, while the height approaches the mark of 8 m. The crown has rather wide outlines. The needles are thin and shortened, painted in a greenish-gray color.
  3. Fastigiata is a female plant that can grow up to a height of 5 m. The crown has a broad-columnar shape, but the top is drooping. Many branches are pointed and grow ascending. The needles on the stems grow in a spiral order, have a bend inward. The coniferous mass is painted in a greenish-black shade.
  4. Nissen's Corona) the owner of a shrubby form of growth, in height does not exceed 2.5 m, while the diameter can vary in the range of 6–8 m. If the cultivation of this variety of berry yew occurs in middle latitude, then the height can rarely reach the height of the snow cover. The bark is characterized by its thinness, its shade is brownish-red. The needles have a rich green color. The outlines of the needles are needle-like.

Related article: Recommendations for the care and reproduction of Hilllen.

Video about growing yew in open field conditions:

Photos of yew:

Photo Tisa 1 Photo Tisa 2 Photo Tisa 3 Photo Tisa 4 Photo of Tisza 5

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