Hedges, privacy screens, foundation plantings, topiaries, and shrub borders are all popular uses for yew shrubs. Yews are popular in the garden because of their thick, evergreen leaves and ability to withstand multiple cuts. Yew bushes are also drought-tolerant plants that flourish in full sun or shade and are low-maintenance. They thrive in most soil types.
In garden landscapes, yew bushes offer a variety of uses. Upright, columnar evergreen trees, such as the popular hicks yew (Taxus x media ‘Hicksii’), are ideal for hedges. An upright yew, the Irish yew (Taxus baccata ‘Fastigiata’) is ideal for generating vertical interest.
Suppose, on the other hand, that you want a low-growing evergreen. The English yew (Taxus baccata ‘Repandens’) only grows to be around 3 feet (1 meter) tall in that scenario, but it spreads up to 15 feet (4.5 meters) wide. The finest varieties of yew shrubs for putting in your yard are discussed in this article. You can use descriptions and photographs of popular yew bushes to choose which yews to plant.
About Yew Shrubs (Taxus)
Yew is a genus of coniferous perennial shrubs and trees that includes both mature and immature berry-like fruit called aril. Because they don’t create the typical seed-producing cones like pine trees, spruces, and cypress conifers, yew shrubs and trees stand out from other types of conifers. Instead, the aril, or red fleshy casing surrounding yew seeds, is used.
Between 2 and 5 feet (0.6 and 1.5 meters) tall, yew bushes may be found. Regular pruning may help keep the height of some taller yew bushes, such as the Hicks and Irish yews. Yews are also beneficial for forming box-like hedgerows in gardens due to their dense foliage.
Flat, needle-like leaves growing in two rows along stems are characteristic of yew shrubs. The leaves are 0.4″ to 1.5″ (1 – 4 cm) long and 0.1″ (3 mm) broad, with a thickness of 0.1″. The midrib of yew shrub leaves extends from the root to the tip, and it is quite obvious.
Red, meaty edible fruits develop on yew bushes as well. During the summer and fall, the spherical, cup-shaped arils change from red to scarlet. The rest of the plant, including the seeds, is very poisonous, even though you can consume the fleshy part of the yew “berry.”
Types of Yew Shrubs — Overview
The most frequent yew shrubs are easy to maintain and make for great year-around topiary.
- Hicks Yew (Taxus x media ‘Hicksii’)—Glassy dark green soft needles, thick foliage, and red fruits characterize the Anglo-Japanese yew, which is an evergreen shrub. This popular hedgerow shrub grows 12 to 20 feet (3.6 – 6 meters) tall and has a spread of up to 12 feet (3.6 meters). It is ideal for USDA zones 4 through 7.
- Irish Yew (Taxus baccata ‘Fastigiata’)—The slender, upright Irish yew is the most popular conifer in the world. In ten years, the columnar evergreen shrub grows 4 to 10 feet (1.2 to 3 meters) tall and 2 to 3 feet (0.6 to 1 meter) broad.
- Japanese Yew ‘Densa’ (Taxus cuspidata ‘Densa’)—The Japanese spreading yew is a tiny, dwarf shrub that grows to 4 feet (1.2 meters) tall and 8 feet (2.4 meters) broad in the winter. USDA zones 4 to 7 are ideal for the shrubby yew bush, which grows slowly.
- Canada Yew (Taxus canadensis)—Dark green needle leaves of the cold-hardy Canadian yew turn reddish-brown in the winter. The Canada yew grows 3 to 5 feet (1 – 1.5 meters) tall and up to 8 feet (2.4 meters) broad in USDA zones 3 to 7.
How to Care and Grow Yew Shrubs
Grow evergreen plants in well-drained, humus-rich soil that is kept evenly moist to care for yew shrubs. Yew bushes may be found from full sun to full shade and tolerate a variety of soil types. In the spring, use compost and evergreen shrub fertilizer. Every spring, prune branches to encourage dense development.
Prior to new growth development, prune yew shrubs at their optimum time in late winter or early spring. To encourage the shrub to become rounder or fuller, cut off its exterior growth. Additionally, check for branches growing back into the shrub and remove them.
Wait until a yew tree reaches the desired height before trimming the top. Yews grow from old wood, unlike other conifers. As a result, even after you’ve cut a yew shrub severely, the plant will grow back and thrive.
Trimming the leggy branches to the woody sections of the stem is an effective way to trim an overgrown yew shrub. Yews may be pruned hard and are hardy shrubs. Cutting a yew shrub back to around 1 to 2 feet (0.3 to 0.6 meters) from the ground, for example, will help rejuvenate it.
Types of Yew Shrubs (With Pictures)
Let’s examine the most common types of yew bushes for home gardens in further depth.
Hicks Yew Shrub (Taxus x media ‘Hicksii’)
Hicks yew can be pruned to make a beautiful living barrier for privacy from neighbors, and it thrives in dense, evergreen forests. With upward-growing branches, Hicks yew shrubs have a narrowly columnar habit. The glossy green needle leaves have a soft spine at the tip of their dense foliage.
Hybrid yew is a hardy hedge plant that grows quickly. In USDA zones 4 through 7, you may grow a Hicks yew shrub. The Hicks variety, like other yew bushes, thrives in both full sun and partial shade. Hicks yew bushes reach a height of 12 to 20 feet (3.6 to 6 meters) and a width of up to 12 feet (3 meters).
Grow a well-drained soil and keep the area moist to establish a Hicks yew evergreen hedge, privacy screen, or specimen plant. Hicks yew bushes, on the other hand, are drought-tolerant plants once they’ve been established.
Anglo-Japanese Yew (Taxus x media ‘Densiformis’)
Taxus x media Densiformis is a dwarf, evergreen shrub with a spreading low growth habit that makes it suitable as a low-growing hedge or foundation planting. The spreading habit of the Densiformis yew shrub makes it an excellent choice for evergreen ground cover.
The dense growth that is encouraged by regular pruning results in a lovely bush. The Anglo-Japanese yew ‘Densiformis’ spreads 3 to 4 feet (1 to 1.2 meters) tall and grows up to 6 feet (1.6 meters) broad. The yew ‘Densiformis’ requires very little attention to thrive in landscapes, thanks to its small height and spherical shape. USDA zones 4 through 7 are suitable for this variety.
English Yew (Taxus baccata ‘Repandens’)
It is a low, spreading yew cultivar ideal for foundation plantings, shaded ground cover, rock gardens, and shrub borders. Taxus baccata ‘Repandens’ is an ornamental yew cultivar. A wall will also be drooped by the long branches. The dense foliage of this popular small landscaping English yew shrub consists of soft, flat needle-like glossy green leaves.
This spreading English yew grows to 2–4 feet (0.6–1.2 meters) tall and 15 feet (4.5 meters) broad. In USDA zones 6 to 8, the English yew ‘Repandens’ is suitable for sun or shade.
Dwarf English Yew Shrub (Taxus baccata ‘Repandens Aurea’)
The English yew ‘Repandens Aurea’ is a small shrub that brightens up any environment with its cheerful yellowish-green needle foliage. The prostrate, spreading dwarf English yew is ideal for full sun ground cover, foundation plantings, or as a specimen landscaping plant. It grows 2 to 4 feet (0.6 to 1.2 m) tall and 15 feet (4.5 m) wide in the wild.
Irish Yew (Taxus baccata ‘Fastigiata’)
Because of its upright, columnar growth and minimal upkeep requirements, Taxus baccata ‘Fastigiata’ is one of the most popular conifers in the world. A vertical accent, privacy screen, tall evergreen hedge, or foundation planting can all be created with the narrow Irish yew shrub.
The Irish yew grows at a pace of around 1 foot (30 cm) each year. The Irish yew grows to be 4 to 10 feet (1.2–3 m) tall over a ten-year period. The dense foliage of the yew shrub will benefit from occasional pruning to stay at the desired height. The Irish yew thrives in the sun or shade as long as the ground is moist, and it is cold-hardy to zone 6.
Dwarf Bright Gold Japanese Yew (Taxus cuspidata ‘Bright Gold’)
The dwarf conifer yew cultivar Taxus cuspidata ‘Bright Gold’ is an attractive evergreen accent plant that thrives in containers or low-growing evergreen hedgerows, with yellow-green foliage. The spreading branching habit of the Japanese yew results in a mound with golden yellow and green needle leaves.
Bright Gold, a dwarf spreading conifer that grows 4 to 6 feet (1.2 to 1.8 meters) tall and broad, Plant this dwarf shrubby yew in partial shade to get the best yellow-green color. The leaves are not bright yellow or dark green because of some shady conditions.
American Yew / Canada Yew (Taxus canadensis)
The cold hardy American/Canada yew is a shade-adaptable, slow-growing evergreen screen, ground cover, or plant that can be grown in front of the home with little care. The slow-growing Canadian yew has an unkempt, shaggy appearance due to its upright, spreading branching.
This cold-hardy shrub is known as the American yew and grows in USDA zones 3 to 7. Canadian yew is the least tolerant of full sun of all the different kinds of evergreen yew shrubs. The yew grows 3 to 5 feet (1.5 to 1.5 meters) tall and broad in deep or partial shade..
Citation Columnar Yew (Taxus x media ‘Citation’)
A compact, upright, columnar yew ideal for a tall hedge or privacy screen is the yew hybrid Taxus x media ‘Citation’. The multiple upright stems of the ‘Citation yew’ sport densely growing needles in a spiral pattern. To encourage bushy, dense foliage, the ornamental hedging plant tolerates pruning at any time.
In USDA zones 4 to 7, the yew called the “Citation” thrives in full sun to deep shade. It is a versatile landscaping shrub. The 6 to 10 feet (1.8 to 3 meters) tall, upright shrub has a growth height of 3 to 6 feet (1.8 to 1.8 meters).
Viridis Yew (Taxus x media ‘Viridis’)
The slow-growing Viridis yew shrub has a conical growth habit, making it an ideal vertical accent plant. This conical yew tree is an excellent specimen plant for a vertical emphasis due to its attractive form. It’s also suited for hedges, mass plantings, and privacy screening because of its narrow columnar growth and dense yellow-green to dark green foliage.
The ‘Viridis’ yew grows to be 10 feet (3 meters) tall and has a spread of 2 to 4 feet (0.6 to 1.2 meters) when it is mature. The yew shrub thrives in full sun, despite being a shade-tolerant evergreen.
Taxus x media ‘Green Mountain’
A hybrid yew shrub with an upward spreading growth that forms a vase shape, Taxus x media ‘Green Mountain’ is a popular variety. Low- to medium-sized hedges, privacy screens, shrub borders, and foundation plantings all benefit from the quick-growing dark green yew.
The evergreen yew tree, which thrives in full sun and grows to be 5 feet (1.5 meters) tall and 6 feet (1.8 meters) wide, is a popular choice for landscape plants.
Flushing Yew (Taxus × media ‘Flushing’)
The yew hybrid Taxus x media ‘Flushing’ is a pencil-like growth shrub that thrives in small gardens. The yew ‘Flushing’ is an ideal candidate for a lean, vertical accent in a yard or corner of the home due to its tall, narrow growth and thick needle leaves. The parallel growth of the fastigiated branches of the ‘Flushing’ yew is a characteristic. The 12 to 15 ft.
(3.6 – 4.5 m) tall and 3 ft. (1 m) wide Taxus x media ‘Flushing’ yew shrub is a popular choice for bonsai enthusiasts. This slender, columnar yew shrub will grow in USDA zones 4 to 7 if planted in well-drained soil.
Dwarf Japanese Yew (Taxus cuspidata var. nana)
The Japanese yew ‘Nana’ is a dwarf evergreen shrub with little, dense growth, crimson red berries, and tiny green needles. It may be pruned as a hedgerow hedge. The shrub’s lush appearance and height will be maintained by regular pruning. The dwarf Japanese yew is suited for use as a hedge, hedgerow, or foundation plant in full sun or part shade. The spreading dwarf Japanese yew, known as Nana, grows to be 10–20 feet (3–6 meters) tall and wide.
Japanese Yew Shrubs (Taxus cuspidata)
Because of their minimal upkeep, high dense development, and ability to grow in poor soils, Japanese yew shrubs are popular in landscaping. Because of their lengthy and spreading branching habits, Japanese yews are often referred to as the spreading yew. Multi-stemmed shrubs of various varieties of Japanese yew are suitable for designing a front or backyard.
Taxus cuspidata ‘Capitata’
The Japanese yew Capitata is a medium-sized spreading evergreen shrub with horizontally branching needle leaves. It is a young Taxus cuspidata Capitata shrub. As a specimen plant, the Japanese yew known as the Captitata has a pyramidal shape.
You can also use this spreading yew as a hedgerow or front-of-the-house hedge plant in large groupings. In USDA zones 4 to 7, the Japanese yew ‘Capitata’ thrives in shade or sunlight. It grows at a pace of 10 to 25 feet (3 to 7.6 m) tall and 5 to 10 feet (1.5 to 3 m) broad, finally maturing at 10 to 25 feet (3 to 7.6 m). In the spring, prune to encourage robust, bushy foliage.
There are also several Japanese yew shrub cultivars:
- Taxus cuspidata ‘Columnaris’—A slender, columnar plant with a pyramidal form, the Japanese yew ‘Columnaris’ The shrub grows to be 10 feet (3 meters) tall and 3 feet (1 meter) broad. It makes a good specimen tree, hedge, or screen because of its narrow, vertical emphasis.
- Golden Japanese yew (Taxus cuspidata ‘Aurescens’)—Bright golden needle leaves cover this slow-growing Japanese semi-dwarf multi-stemmed yew shrub. For the first ten years, the spreading yew grows at a pace of 6 inches per year. It grows to be 4 feet (1.2 meters) tall and 5 feet (1.5 meters) broad.
- Dwarf Japanese yew (Taxus cuspidata ‘Nana Aurescens’)—The ‘Nana Aurescens,’ a shade and sun-tolerant yew shrub, grows 3 ft (1 m) tall and 6 ft (1.8 m) broad. As a ground cover or in bulk plantings, grow this spreading yew as a shrub border.
Taxus cuspidata ‘Nana Aurescens’