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Growing hints for common yew (taxus baccata)

  • Before planting

    • Unpack and check all the plants. If any plants are missing or damaged, then please notify us on 01502 578598 or email
    • If the plants are bare root, then check the roots have not dried out. If the roots look dry, then stand them in water for approximately half an hour.
    • If bare root plants are not to be planted immediately, then temporarily cover the roots with moist compost or soil.
    • Do not remove the sacking from root balled plants, at least until it is in the planting hole.

  • Growing in open ground

    • Yew will grow in acid, neutral or alkaline soils: perhaps best in neutral soils. It prefers moist, well drained soil with a high humus content.
    • It will grow in most soils with good drainage, in sun or shade.
    • Especially when planting young bare root plants, it is very important to place the roots in moist crumbly soil, so the plant can become established. If the soil forms large clods, then break them up as well as possible and add some peat, compost or sand to the soil that is to be placed around the plant’s roots.
    • With root balled plants, Hessian sacking can be left on the root ball to rot. Plastic or wire material should be removed, preferably when the plant has been placed in the planting hole.
    • Water in well after planting.
    • On very exposed sites, consider providing some shelter from the wind until the plants are established.
    • Keep the area around the plant free from weeds, especially while the plant is small.
    • Water well in dry weather during the first two years after planting.

  • Growing in containers

    • Many garden composts lose all their nutrients after a few weeks. So it is advisable to either add controlled release fertiliser to the compost or to use a liquid feed.
    • Adding a controlled release fertiliser to the compost will make sure the plant grows well without the need for supplementary feeding for a longer period (typically 6 to 18 months depending on the type of fertiliser).
    • If using a liquid feed, then this can be any general purpose liquid feed.
    • Water the plant in well after planting. Water well during long dry spells, especially soon after planting. Do not over-water. Make sure the drainage is adequate.
    • Yew will grow in sunny or shady conditions. Partial shade is probably the best.

  • Trimming

    • Yew can be trimmed at any time of year. Perhaps late summer or autumn is best.
    • It is important not to cut the leading shoot until the plant has reached the desired height, as any new shoots will be less vigorous than the original leader.
    • Trimming the side branches will make the plant denser, by encouraging additional side growths.
    • Yew can withstand hard pruning and will rejuvenate if cut back to a stump.
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