Columnar yews are ideal both as hedge plants and as solitaires in the garden. Although the trees grow slowly, you have little work with them and lifelong joy. Yews also sprout again from the old wood, which makes them ideal topiary trees. They do not bare from the inside, as is the case with many other conifers. Yew trees become more and more beautiful over the years. What you need to know about the easy-care columnar yews, read the following text. Inform yourself!


  • Originates from Ireland
  • Grows up to 4 m tall
  • Annual growth up to 20 cm
  • Plants are all female
  • Red berries poisonous, needles too
  • Suited as a specimen plant and hedge plant
  • periwinkle
  • Dark green, shiny needles, up to 4 cm long
  • Rounded at the ends, do not spike
  • Branches grow tautly upright
  • Retains the columnar shape even without pruning and even with age
  • Flowers in March/April, rather inconspicuous, small and yellow
  • Deep rooting with a high proportion of fine roots

Various columnar yews and their main differences and similarities: Taxus baccata

  • ‘Festigiata’ – Irish columnar yew, tight, columnar, slow growth, grows stiffly upright with vertical shoots, needles dark green and radial, female form, heavily fruiting
  • ‘Fastigiata Aureomarginata’ – Yellow variegated columnar yew, similar to ‘Fastigiata’ but with different needles, green with a yellow edge, female form
  • ‘Fastigiata Robusta’ – Pointed columnar yew, similar growth, a little tighter columnar, stronger growth, needles longer and more protruding, overall this yew appears coarser, very hardy, female form
  • ‘Adpressa Erecta’ – dwarf columnar yew, only 3 m high, the needles are somewhat wider
  • ‘Aurea’ – Yellow columnar yew, yellow spotted needles

The care of the columnar yew

Pillar yews are extremely easy to care for if they have the right location and a good substrate. They need regular and sufficient water and otherwise get along well on their own. Columnar yews are also well suited to being kept in tubs and can be cultivated in containers for many years. They also do well with root competition.

Although it is repeatedly said that yew trees tolerate sun and shade, partial shade is best. Too much sun is bad for the young plants and this can also have a negative effect in winter. Too much shade, on the other hand, slows down growth. Above all, the plant substrate should be humus-rich and not too dry. Planting is done in spring or autumn, with autumn being more favorable, if only because there is more rainfall then. Casting is important as mentioned. You can fertilize with compost or a complete fertilizer. Cutting is no problem at all, and hibernation is usually not either. The columnar yew is propagated by cuttings. Diseases and pests are quite rare. Pillar yews are usually easy to care for.


Columnar yews tolerate both sun and shade. Blazing sun is in winter when the sun is shining and it freezes is unfavorable, since the leaves then evaporate a lot of water and none can be absorbed. Dry damage occurs. The needles turn brown. Too much shade will cause the yew tree to grow even more slowly.

  • Sunny to shady
  • Likes humid locations
  • In strong winter sun, the needles can turn brown on the sunny side. Therefore, a semi-shady location is better than one in full sun.
  • Young plants in particular do not like such bright sun.
  • A spot in the shade of larger deciduous trees is ideal.

plant substrate

In terms of plant substrate, yew trees are quite undemanding. They get along with almost every soil. It should be somewhat loamy, slightly chalky and humic. Too dry soil is unfavorable. The superficial roots cannot cope with drought and die off. It must then be watered plentifully and regularly.

  • really undemanding
  • fumes
  • Not too acidic, so no peat soils
  • Not too dry
  • They prefer calcareous, loamy soil
  • If the soil is sandy, mix in mature compost regularly


There are a few things to keep in mind when planting hedges. A crooked hedge is difficult to correct. A good plant lays the foundation for a long life.

  • When planting hedges, 4 to 5 plants per meter
  • Tighten the string to make a straight row.
  • Can be planted all year round except during frost
  • However, planting from mid-October to mid-March is ideal
  • Best in October, as the ground is still warm and autumn usually brings enough rainfall
  • Soak root ball in water for 12 to 24 hours. When planting hedges, it is difficult with the quantity. However, each root ball should be placed in water until no more air bubbles rise.
  • Dig a planting pit twice as deep and three times as wide as the root ball
  • If the substrate is damp, place a layer of gravel or potsherds in the bottom of the trench.
  • A mixture of garden soil and compost is suitable as soil for filling
  • Work in horn shavings when planting, this provides a start fertilization, but not too much.
  • Water plentifully and keep it that way for weeks. The roots should not dry out.
  • Fertilize 3 to 4 weeks after planting

watering and fertilizing

Watering is important for yew trees. If there is not enough water, the roots can no longer support the entire plant. The needles become coppery so as not to evaporate as much water. Normally the needles will turn green again when there is sufficient water again in the spring. If there is a lack of moisture, the needles can turn brown, they die. The wood can recover from this, but this should not happen often.

  • The plants need plenty of water, especially after planting until they are rooted
  • Never keep the soil too dry, especially not for the first two to three years.
  • What is often forgotten, even in winter, the needles evaporate water and need replenishment.
  • A layer of mulch protects the soil from moisture loss
  • Fertilize with complete fertilizer, best when new growth occurs, around mid-April.
  • Alternatively, use conifer or fir fertilizer
  • Fertilize 3 to 4 weeks after planting
  • A compost application in spring or autumn stimulates root formation
Note: It is important not to fertilize too late in the year. The shoots must have enough time to mature before winter. You can’t fertilize after mid-July. Unripe shoots freeze faster. Potash fertilizer is an exception. Patentkali can also be used in autumn. A gift in September prepares the yew trees for winter.

To cut

Columnar yews can be kept at a width of 20 to 30 cm without pruning. If you want to cut, you can do that, the plants are extremely cut-tolerant. They tolerate any pruning, even being put back on the stick, i.e. an absolute radical cut.

  • If necessary, it can be cut several times a year, but this is usually unnecessary. One cut is usually sufficient.
  • Simply cut out dried or diseased shoots in spring.
  • Shape cut generally before sprouting
  • Use templates for this
  • Wear gloves, the yew is poisonous. Touch is usually sufficient, even with plant sap.
Note: Experts do not agree on the cutting date. A cut around St. John’s Day, i.e. around June 24th, is often recommended. I would advise against it as it would disturb nesting birds that like to nest in the yew trees. Many professionals also recommend cutting in spring or fall. I would not prune again in the fall, because then the shoots that have just become woody are cut off.


Pillar yews are very hardy. They tolerate temperatures above -20°C. But there can be a problem in winter. If the plants are exposed to strong sun while the ground is frozen, a lot of water will evaporate through the needles. The water absorption of the roots is interrupted by the frozen ground. There is a risk of drought damage, which can assume considerable proportions.

  • Very frost hardy, even without protection
  • Watch out for strong sunlight in winter


T. bacatta ‘Fastigiata Robusta’ is not propagated by seed. Here only the propagation of cuttings is possible. However, this usually works without any problems. With the yellow-needled columnar yew, this type of propagation is not that easy, but you can definitely do it.

  • It is best to cut cuttings in June around St. John’s Day
  • Two- to three-year-old shoots that can easily be 30 cm long are used
  • Cut all side shoots and the top by half
  • At the bottom, remove all needles and shoots to a height of about 7 cm
  • Simply stick the cuttings in the garden soil, either in the bed or in a container
  • The place should be shady and sheltered from the wind
  • Keep evenly moist
  • The cuttings take a year to root
  • You can see whether this worked when new shoots form and the cutting grows.
  • Do not transplant the plant until next autumn, if so desired.

diseases and pests

Diseases and pests are generally quite rare in yew trees. The Pillar Yew is no exception. However, yellow or brown needles are not uncommon and can have various causes. In most cases, however, the plants recover and reliably sprout again.

  • A lack of water is often to blame for yellowing of the needles.
  • In winter, strong sunlight and frost lead to a lack of water and thus to a brown discoloration of the needles. Often they fall off.
  • Roots that are too wet can trigger the same symptoms.
  • after planting, they don’t tolerate bright sun at first. The needles turn yellow because they are usually not used to the sun.
  • Yew scale insects can cause damage, or it is their excretions, the so-called honeydew, on which soot fungi settle. These are harmful.
  • Yew gall midges attack the buds, which stunts the growth of the plants.
  • Vine weevils don’t stop at yew trees either. Damage caused by the beetle can be recognized by bay-like notches in the needles. The larvae, on the other hand, feed on the roots or the root neck and are therefore much more dangerous.
  • In addition, scale insects can occur.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between the varieties ‘Fastigiata’ and ‘Fastigiata Robusta’?
The differences are not serious. ‘Fastigiata Robusta’ grows a little faster, is a little more winter hardy and also grows a little narrower. It is the best cigar-shaped yew tree that retains its narrow stature even with age. In addition, the needles are slightly lighter. Otherwise, the two species are very similar.

How long does it take for a columnar yew to reach a height of about 4 m?
This takes a long time, but depends on the location and, above all, on the plant substrate. If the soil is quite sandy, you have to reckon with 25 years, with good, humus-rich and nutrient-rich soil it will be a few years faster, but it will probably be 17 years. Also columnar yews grow slowly. However, it is faster if you buy plants that are already more than a meter high. Again, this is a question of price.

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