Yew (Taxus) - Yew Tree: Care & Cutting

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Short profile care & cutting:

  • Habitat: half shady to shady
  • Soil: ideally loamy and calcareous soil
  • Watering: keep moist; no waterlogging
  • Shape cut: annually; Time around Johannistag particularly suitable
  • Easy reading: annually; ideally just before the beginning of shoot
  • Strong rejuvenation: v.a. at bare tree


As a coniferous wood, which is found in European forests especially in understory, the yew prefers half shady to shady locations. The taxus feels less well on surfaces where it is exposed to strong sunlight. It should be noted, however, that very deep shadows usually slow down tree growth.
The taxus can be positioned comparatively versatile in gardens and parks - the yew tree thrives in an individual position without any restrictions, but is equally well suited for integration in hedges.
Although the yew is a deep root, the coniferous wood also forms comparatively dense fine roots in the surrounding topsoil. For this reason, it is not recommended to put yews in the immediate vicinity of less competitive woods. The Taxus itself, on the other hand, is less sensitive to root competition.

soil quality

The yew makes no great demands on its soil. However, it is important that the soil is permeable and not stunned. An ideal substrate for planting yews contains clay and is calcareous. However, if only a sandy garden soil with slightly acidic pH is available to a yew tree, this does not normally limit the healthy growth of the tree - if the substrate is of a sandy nature, it is advisable to use compost at regular intervals. Such a measure not only provides light garden soil with nutrients required by the yew, but also contributes to the fact that the pH of the substrate does not decrease further. Very acid peaty soils are totally unsuitable for the placement of yew trees.

Watering & Fertilizing

When waterlogging occurs, it is recommended that the soil of a yew tree be kept moist by regular watering / watering.
As a rule, it is not necessary to support yew growth with special fertilizer. However, the taxus's early composting serves as a welcome additional source of nutrition.

To cut

The Taxus is a very cut compatible coniferous wood. Although the tree shows a rather slow growth - a renewed rugged deflection is usually guaranteed even after heavy pruning. Described advantages are among the reasons for the popularity of the yew tree as a form of shrub. However, since the wood of the yew is quite hard, this can make cutting difficult. Due to the slow growth of the yew tree, it is usually sufficient to refresh a desired shape cut every year. The days around the Johannistag (24.06.) Represent a suitable period for carrying out such a section.
Occasional cutting may also be necessary in yew trees that do not serve as a form of shrubbery - this is the case, for example, when the coniferous tree is bare or, after some time, too large for the space available to it. Although a pruning of the yew can basically take place down to the old wood - a very strong recut however sees a comparatively long rebuilding phase of the tree. So if a taxus is not neglected and therefore does not require any strong rejuvenation, it is usually advisable to reduce or eliminate impulses every year. Although rejuvenation and clearing are in principle possible during the whole year, this is particularly suitable for the time before the budding (spring).
Last but not least, even very cold winters with little snow can require special cutting measures, because the winter sun occasionally leads to dehydration of individual shoots. If the latter are cut out of the tree in spring, the conifers will recover quickly.

useful information

The yew is one of the trees / shrubs that are used in the home gardens. As a specimen plant, or in hedges. The yew belongs to the conifers and also to the poison plants. Only her seed coat is not poisonous, this tastes even very delicious, a little sweet and is even suitable for cooking as a jam. However, the needle and other parts of the tree are very poisonous. This fact should not be ignored if you have children. In Germany, the European yew is on the Red List of Endangered Plant Species. She is threatened with extinction. The yew is also one of the tree species that can grow very old. They grow slowly, and often reach an age over 1000 years. Since there is only a small stock, you have the chance to find an older, mature specimen near Klosters.
The use of yew is particularly well known in the field of sporting goods. Longbows and crossbows are often made of yew wood, because the wood can have a particularly good elasticity. Since the yew used to be cut down, just so that you can use it to make weapons and weapons parts, this contributed much to the fact that the yew today is under strict conservation. The yew is a true treasure in herbal medicine. It is used to make the cancer drug paclitaxel.
Of course, some species were bred, which are mainly found in gardens as a hedge plant, or as a specimen plant. The column disc is mainly found in parks and cemeteries. At altitude, the pillar reaches between 5 (in Germany) and about 15 (in the British Isles) meters.

Video Board: Managing your yew tree.

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