Yew make me crazy

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Canton, GA
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Well it’s been a little over a year since I’ve been active and thankfully life has mostly stopped beating me in the head with a hammer. I’m glad to be able to get back to learning this ancient art.

I purchased a yew of unknown variety in the middle of last summer from the local nursery reject reseller. It’s a little leggy, has good root structure, existing deadwood and multiple trunks that have nice positioning. Pic below is from July 2018


The tree survived the mild but wet winter in N. GA and as of now budding all over the place. The one thing I don’t understand and can only attribute to how wet it’s been is yellowing on the older needles near the tops of the limbs. Pic below is from today.

The entire album for this tree can be found here

There aren’t any visible bugs, mites, scale or aphids on the limbs and I’ve been very careful to only water when it’s dry on the top portion of the soil. I’ve not seen any unhealthy or browning buds on any of the branches and there are new buds still forming every day.

Can anyone provide any advice on whether this could be an issue with being too wet? And if that’s the case, do I repot into nonorganic media and cut back the legs? The tree is 24-32 inches from base to the tip of its limbs. How much can I cut back to encourage compact growth?

I’m new to working with yew so any additional tips would be much appreciate. Thanks in advance for any help you can offer.
 

just.wing.it

Imperial Masterpiece
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I think you are right on about the yellowing.....too wet.
I have a bad case of that right now with a couple of my yews.
I think mine were too wet all winter as well.
Being in GA, yours are a little bit ahead of mine, but I hope to see buds in a week or so.

As to repotting, I've bare rooted several of my yews, from nursery soil to inorganic substrate, both in spring when buds are swelling (you appear to be past that point now) and in mid-summer....as long as the plant is healthy, either seems fine.

As to cutting back, top and bottom....I would keep as many roots as you can, reduce them slowly over time.....many years.

I have one small yew that I hacked nearly all the roots off of, as an experiment to see what it could handle.....potted in lava pumice and haydite in a small bonsai pot. The tree didn't grow at all the whole year after the major root reduction, but its still alive, and I hope to see some buds soon. So even though it may be possible to take off lots of roots, I say keep a fair amount.

Up top, its best to cut back to some green, but I have also cut branches back to nothing, no foliage or buds, intending to jin the branch later.....and it back-budded profusely.
I think you can cut the branches back quite hard....like what some guys do with azaleas, and they'll bud out all over as long as they get good sun.

Good luck with yewrs!
Hope that's helpful.
 
Messages
22
Reaction score
31
Location
Canton, GA
USDA Zone
7b
I think you are right on about the yellowing.....too wet.
I have a bad case of that right now with a couple of my yews.
I think mine were too wet all winter as well.
Being in GA, yours are a little bit ahead of mine, but I hope to see buds in a week or so.

As to repotting, I've bare rooted several of my yews, from nursery soil to inorganic substrate, both in spring when buds are swelling (you appear to be past that point now) and in mid-summer....as long as the plant is healthy, either seems fine.

As to cutting back, top and bottom....I would keep as many roots as you can, reduce them slowly over time.....many years.

I have one small yew that I hacked nearly all the roots off of, as an experiment to see what it could handle.....potted in lava pumice and haydite in a small bonsai pot. The tree didn't grow at all the whole year after the major root reduction, but its still alive, and I hope to see some buds soon. So even though it may be possible to take off lots of roots, I say keep a fair amount.

Up top, its best to cut back to some green, but I have also cut branches back to nothing, no foliage or buds, intending to jin the branch later.....and it back-budded profusely.
I think you can cut the branches back quite hard....like what some guys do with azaleas, and they'll bud out all over as long as they get good sun.

Good luck with yewrs!
Hope that's helpful.
Thanks for the response and guidance on how to treat a yew during repotting.

My plan is to bare root with the hose and remove as few roots as possible. I’ve built a 16x16x6 box with a screen bottom as it’s new home which should give me options when it comes time to start moving the limbs. I’m going to use Napa oil dry, perlite and a small amount of pine bark for additional water retention as the substrate. I had wanted to do the work today but it’s thunderstorming and it’s probably a bad idea to be standing outside in a puddle of water. LOL

There is some moss growing on the lower trunk and a couple limbs. Do I scrub that off with a brush or peel it away with forceps?

Since the new foliage has opened and started to extend, should I wait until later in the year to cut back the top?

I really appreciate the help.
 
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Location
Canton, GA
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We got a break between storms today and I took the opportunity to repot my yew. There were a few challenges and I chose to be conservative b/c I really like this tree.


The bottom 5 inches of the nursery container was nothing but sludge and rocks. The rest was a huge mass of tangled feeder roots. Removed anything large wrapping the outside and loosened the outer feeders. I didn’t want to disturb the main mass this time.

Removed close to a softball sized hollow of rotten crap from the center of the root ball. Then cut about 40% of the large roots to help with getting it into the box I’d made. I will definitely be handling those during the next repot.


It’s sitting a little high(1.5inch) b/c of the large roots that are left under the root ball. I made sure to put a large mound of media under the root ball and stuffed more media under it after setting it down. Cleaned as much of the moss off the trunk as possible and gave it a nice dose of super thrive after flushing the particulate from the media. Now it’s time for the hardest part....waiting.
 
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