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Fertilizing Yews: When, How & Which Fertilizer To Use

Yew trees or bushes are part of the evergreen family. It’s kind of dangerous to grow because every part of the yew plant is poisonous except the berry (which I wouldn’t recommend touching either).

You may wonder why would somebody grow poisonous yews in the yard, some people do it for fun and others want to get rid of animals and insects. I’m sure you have seen lots of yews in the garden and this is the reason why they are planted in the first place. 

Fun Fact: Yews are also called the tree of death for being toxic as heck. It symbolizes death and resurrection in Celtic society. 

Thankfully yews as an evergreen family member aren’t heavy feeders, but they will benefit from the feeding especially the younger trees, established trees do not require too much fertilization.

When to fertilize Yews?

If the soil is rich and acidic, yews grow in the best conditions and don’t ask for more fertilization. Over time, add more acidic-based fertilizers. Either granulated or liquid fertilizers are ok to use. 

Yews need fertilization 4 times a year from the beginning of April and the end of July maximum. By using sulfur concentration, you can acidify the soil which yews adore. 

Mulch is very important for yews as an acid-loving plant and keeps the thickness between 2-4 inches.

Because yews are evergreen plants, they live in the winter times, which means the care should continue during winter too. To protect the stressed plant spray anti-transpirant wilt-pruf in the middle of November. The timing is a troublemaker here because the temperature should be 40 degrees and yews shouldn’t be exposed to rainfall. 

How to fertilize Yews?

Stage 1

Use a fertilizer with an NPK ratio of 16-8-8 on every side of the base for about 4 inches. The starting point should always be the trunk. Try to spread evenly and remember those numbers tell us the ratio of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.

Because there are changes in the number, there isn’t the exact dosage except following the manufacturer’s way of application.

In most cases, 1/3 pounds of fertilizer goes for any feet of height. For instance, if the yew tree is 3 feet tall, 1 pound of plant food is all right.

Stage 2

If you pick a granulated form of fertilizer, it’s easy to spread evenly into the surface and in all directions. Dig only 1 or 2 inches, no more than that, we don’t want the fertilizer to touch the roots. The liquid from an application is way easier, use only the spraying method (be careful not to touch the leaves or trunk)

This way, the penetration will be much easier without washing away or stressing the yew tree.

Stage 3 

Watering actually is more important than fertilization. If you use chemical fertilizer, it needs more watering which is pretty much 1 or 2 inches deep. This way fertilizer works directly in the soil without overwatering. 

In case the fertilizer touches the leaves or stem, wash it out because, over time, it can burn the entire tree.

Warning: Wear protective gloves and a face mask during the fertilization because the yews are poisonous plants.

Best Fertilizers For Yews

1. Jobe’s 01660 Fertilizer Tree & Shrubs

Jobe’s 01660 has such a great value for the money. It’s so easy to pour in the yew tree’s dripline without any mess or waste. The tree continues to nourish below the surface in a slow-release formula in an active growing stage.

The NPK is a 16-14-4 ratio and is ideal for every evergreen family tree and shrubs. For best results, apply in the early spring or late fall before the winter cold and try to spread evenly. A 2 or 3 inches deep from the surface in circular form is preferable.

Here is how to use it. First of all, measure the trunk diameter 1 foot from the ground and apply 2 spikes for 1/2 inches diameter. Gradually increase the amount of fertilizer with the size of the trunk. 

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2. Scotts Evergreen Flowering Tree & Shrub

Scotts evergreen flower tree encourages acid-loving trees and shrubs to thrive without the risk of burning (according to the manufacturer).

The slow-release formula is easy to apply because you can pour directly from the bag all around the yews. To get the most out of the food plant, dig the topsoil for 1-3 inches from the root and apply evenly. After you’re done with an application, water the plant gently.

The NPK ratio is 11-7-7 which means the acidity (nitrogen) is higher and the fertilizer will feed the yews for months and protect the leaves from turning yellow.

Here’s how to use it. A 1 cup will cover 35 square feet or you can apply 1/2 tablespoon for each square foot during the growing period. Mulching the soil to let the food infiltrate the root system. Plus, avoid the fertilizer touching the leaves or trunk. 

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3. Shake ‘N Feed Flowering Trees and Shrubs Plant Food

Shake ‘N Feed is another easy-to-use plant food that contains natural ingredients. It’s perfect to maintain lush green leaves and creating a nice bountiful blooming all through the season. 

It will keep the plant full for up to 3 months with an NPK 18-6-12. Use it for every type of tree and shrubs planted in-ground, containers, or even pots. Do not apply the fertilizer to pre-mixed water, apply dried and then add water.

Here are the instructions on how to use it. For 2 feet diameter dripline, apply 2 tsp of fertilizer and increase the tbsp. according to the size, for example, if it’s 6 feet tall, apply 7 tbsp. and 8+ feet 3/4 cup will be enough.

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Signs of Overfertilization on Yews

  • No visible growth
  • Limp roots
  • Crusty and tough topsoil
  • Yellow and wilting especially on the tips.

A Brief Recap

Yews as a member of the evergreen family don’t ask for fertilization. It’s an acidic-lover plant and only asks for 4 times of fertilization in a year. This is such a small amount because evergreen is known to live in cold winter days as well, not only in summer times. The fertilization timing can be a bit tricky during winter because it will be harmful if you feed yews under 40 degrees temperature.

Yews are highly poisonous plants, I warn you to wear protective gloves and a face mask during fertilization. The bright side is making the pests and bacteria stay away from the plant. 

Keep in mind that while fertilizing, you shouldn’t touch the trunk or leaves and never fertilize after rainfall if the foliage is still wet.

Further Reading

If you want to know more about informational contents like this, check out the frequency and how to fertilize azaleas or a detailed guide on arborvitae plant fertilization.

Additionally, learn how to keep anthurium blooming and what does it represent.

Stay tuned for more fun and interesting topics.


Ella Holmes

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