I just acquired this freebie Japanese yew. It has a lot of yellowing. It appears to have been in the pot a long time… poor soil? Lack of fertilizer? Sunburn? Anyway what should I do to invigorate it?
…and it is fighting for space and nutrients with some grass I see
You got the answer I would say. Check when is the nearest safe time to repot it. Bet it will look happier. Seems healthy, just left ignored somewhere for some time.
Feed it, water it, get it in the sun (with some shade)
Yew are very forgiving.
Wait until the new growth has hardened off.
Then I would get it out of that pot and put in the ground where it will get a couple hours of morning sun.
Wait until next spring, if it shows get bud push then it’s ok for root work.
If you want a bigger trunk leave it in the ground.
That’s a nice looking yew and apart from the yellowing it looks fairly healthy. I thought I would share a photo of two of my Taxus Baccata, different variety but one is discoloured very much like yours.
Both trees where bought from the same nursery at the same time and looked quite healthy. The one on the left was repotted when I got it and the one on the right remained in the nursery container. Both turned yellow over the winter and I figured they got too wet and some winter colouring. I moved them both into the greenhouse and within a 2 weeks the one of the left returned to its normal colour. The one on the right remained discoloured. Around a month ago I took it out of the nursery container and found it was very root bound, which is when I planted it in the ground having missed the window to carry out major root work on it. I figured that there was an imbalance of water and oxygen caused by the very compacted root ball. You can see from the lower foliage that some of the green is trying to return and the buds are trying to elongate a very small amount. Later in the year when it is safe to do I will get the root ball sorted out and plant it back in the ground to grow on.
These are two of my Yews.
The Yew in the first pic was repotted this spring with heavy root work and didn’t skip a beat. They are a very forgiving species.
The Yew in the second pic was acquired at the same time, never repotted, cleaned and pruned twice.
Both are watered and fertilized accordingly and their soils drain freely with a balance water and oxygen, so they just keep on rocking!
So I recommend that a good transplant into the ground with a well draining soil giving it a good balance of water an oxygen.
And just wait and see .
Thank you everyone for your advice!
How is this looking now?
Graham Potter has just posted a video in which he talks about yellowing of Yews.
In it he discusses how yellowing can be caused when the soil starts to turn acidic, when the tree has been in a container for too long. Yews prefer slightly alkaline soils. Apparantly it’s one of the signs that it needs a repot.
I finally finished watching that video. That’s wild that he repots them in summer. Wonder if I should try it. To answer your question all the yellow needles dropped off, but the new growth is dark green. If they like alkaline it’ll love my well water, it’s quite alkaline
I wish I saw Graham’s video before this year’s spring… He is totally right there ab UK tricky weather! I am blaming exactly this for killing my favourite tree
Thank you for sharing @Twisted
I just watched the Graham Potter video. Now I need to work the cramps in my neck out from cringing through most of it. Seriously, I would not take any repotting advice from that video. I assume that Graham’s methods must work for him, but most of what he did is totally opposite of the Mirai repotting method. More of a “how not to repot a tree” video. Also, while Taxus will tolerate alkaline soil, they prefer a more acidic environment as do most conifers.
I assume everyone here is a Mirai family member because they value Ryan’s extensive knowledge and experience, so I suggest searching the archive for “repotting” and watching the many livestreams that Ryan has done on repotting. At least two or three of them are repotting conifers that have filled their pots with roots and have poor drainage.
I think what you are describing is the difference in the artisan approach that Ryan practices and teaches and the largely self learnt trade approach that someone adopts when they are running a large and busy bonsai nurseries almost single handed. I think that by the fact that we are paid up members of the Mirai platform we are all trying to develop the artisan approach.
As for Graham’s approach, is it the best way that gets the best results? I don’t think you will get any arguments that it is. I think Ryan actually answers a question around this sort of subject in one of the repotting streams but I cannot remember which one. But I think his trees speak for themselves, I am quite happy to vouch for them as I have several in my garden and I suspected there are few other UK based Mirai members who would be happy too as well.
I posted the video more to speak about the how the yellowing of yews can be caused by too acidic soil, having checked this fact before posting I saw that it was correct.
" Dieback has been associated with yews growing in very acid soils (pH 4.7-5.4) or very alkaline soils (pH over 7.5). Symptoms begin with yellowing needles and thinning foliage worsening over several months until the plant dies."
Having rewatched the first part of the video I can see that part of what he says isn’t correct “that yew’s prefer alkaline soil.” I suspect he meant that they prefer more alkaline soil than the broken down soil in the current container, he does go on to repot the tree in a mainly pumice mix which I believe has a pH of around 6.8, so not alkaline.