Yew shrubs, such as the Japanese Yew, the English Yew, and the Anglo-Japanese Yew are all very popular shrubs in gardens. The Japanese Yew, Taxus cuspidata, yews shrubs is hardy in Zones 4-7 in the United States. It can grow from 10-40’ high by 10-40’ wide. It is an evergreen shrub with an irregular to upright form.
This is a versatile evergreen that is slow growing and has few pest problems, making it a popular choice for landscaping. The deep green foliage is attractive year-round. Its ability to withstand severe pruning makes it ideal for formal hedges and topiary. It withstands urban conditions and is a popular foundation shrub in city gardens.
It requires fertile soil, sufficient moisture, and excellent drainage. In soggy or wet soil, the foliage turns yellow and plants may die. It grows equally well in sun or shade but dislikes windy sites, especially in colder areas. It grows well in the Midwest and Northeast, but dislikes extreme cold or heat.
*Foliage and fruits are poisonous, so warn children not to put them in their mouths. When you see the word 'Taxus' preceding a species, that means its poisonous.
Care of Yew Shrubs
Yews should be transplanted when they are balled-and-burlapped or container grown plants in spring or fall. Needles may turn brown or yellow in winter due to drying winds. Help reduce winter burn by keeping the soil evenly moist until the ground freezes. Yews are easy shrubs to care for.
Feed each spring with plant food, such as Miracle Gro or an organic equivalent. Yews can be pruned winter through midsummer. Although these plants sprout new growth from fairly old wood. It is better to prune regularly rather than drastically cutting back overgrown plants.
Propagation of yews is done by taking cuttings from late summer through the winter season. There are no serious problems with yews, however, scale is a potential threat and deer are attracted to the foliage. You may want to put up some fencing around them if you live where deer are a big problem.
*Tip- Winter burn can be a problem. Prune out the affected branches in spring.
*Every part of the English Yew is poisonous
Species of Yew Shrubs
‘Capitata’ is a good choice for hedges. English yew (T. Baccata) is an upright plant that grows 30-60’ tall. It is reliably hardy in Zone 5. The bark and leaves of yews contain paclitaxel, which is widely used in chemotherapy drugs. At one time it was also used to treat cancer.
It is told that American Indians used the yew toxin to tip their fishing spears. Anglo-Japanese yew (T. Xmedia) is a group of hybrid cultivars with good foliage color and form. They are also hardy in Zone 5.