Yew shrub

A couple years ago my husband planted three yew shrubs in our yard. The two on the outside are doing great, beautiful color and are growing well. The one in the middle is a much lighter color, was the only one to have berries this year, and while the same size it just does not look as healthy as the others. Any chance it’s a different shrub? Or what reason is there for such a difference? The picture doesn’t do it justice, it’s almost yellow in spots.

Might be too wet. Might be chlorotic or nutrient deficient.

It’s just weird because it’s the middle of three shrubs. Could the outside two be stealing all of the nutrients? The outer two are doing well, the middle one looks so sickly.

These were potted plants when you purchased them? Do you root wash before planting? I’m guessing it’s a root issue. If you grab hold of the plant and rock it side to side is it stable or does the whole plant and root system wobble? If it is a root issue it can be dug up, root washed and pruned and re-planted. I believe you can find a video or two on Dr. Linda Chalker-Scotts webpage.


Make sure not to eat the fruit. The seeds inside are deadly poison.

1 Like

It’s just not doing well. It has a very poor root-system. You could dig it up and see what the roots look like. My guess is they are:
a) twisted and didn’t spread into the nearby soil
b) rotting (which the nose test will tell you)

And there isn’t a c) unless too much soil amendment was added to that hole & the roots are literally sitting in a pool of water. (again the nose test).

If it’s all twisted up you can unwind it and snip it back real good and give the foliage a good haircut too. You need to balance what you remove from the roots by removing foliage. Then replant.

If it’s all rotted, snip the roots back until you see healthy tissue again. Then snip the foliage back to balance.

Too much soil amendment would also need to be taken care of.



I think that was the plot of an Agatha Christie novel.

1 Like

Hey Matt, I wish my husband had read that before buying them. I’m not really thrilled by having a toddler, dog, and poison berries by the front door. On the plus side since none of them are really thriving they haven’t really produced any berries yet.

I tried to shake it and it seems pretty solid in the ground. The one on the left I noticed is also starting to yellow. I have added checking the roots to my spring gardening list. My husband and in laws planted them the day after we came home from my son being born; I’ll have to ask if they rinsed the roots or added anything to the soil. Thanks for all the input! They are pretty shrubs when they’re healthy.

For what it’s worth, the berries themselves are about the only part of the yew that isn’t poisonous. The seeds are, the foliage is, but not the berries.

I grew up around yew hedges. They seemed to be rather popular when I was a kid. Our parents told us, “Don’t eat those, you could get very sick or die.” So we didn’t. :wink:

guess I’m just saying many of us grew up around yews without ever hearing of anyone getting poisoned by them…so maybe the danger is a tad overblown?

Of course, there are some toddlers that are more prone to putting anything new in their mouths, so only you can make that call.

Yews are lovely though, IMHO.

I remember a plant at my grandparents where all the cousins were given the same warning. I wonder if it was also a yew.

I didn’t realize the foliage was poison too. I’m really glad my procrastination kept me from adding some pruned branches to the Christmas decorations this year, as I had intended to do.

Is the Dog peeing on that one yew?

1 Like

Not my dog, but there are a few neighborhood dogs who might be…

It is true that the berries can be eaten, but they are very small, and I do NOT advise it. The seed in the middle is widely reported as deadly poison. It’s not worth fooling with unless you have a death wish.

Admittedly, the plants are handsome as hedges. They came from England.

1 Like

Just to be clear, I wasn’t advising anyone eat the berries, just sharing the facts. Outside of a survival situation, there’s no reason to take that chance.

I do think at times (and no, not talking about this situation specifically, but poisonous plants in general) that some of these plants get an unjustified bad rap to the extent that some of them are not allowed to be sold. That’s a shame.

1 Like

I wonder with some of the poisonous plants it depends on who is consuming it. I feel like I heard there are some plants that like cows can eat, but it makes humans sick. Or like grapes aren’t good for dogs, but it ranges from it doesn’t affect the dog who ate them at all, to some dogs die if grapes are eaten.