Yew Companion Plants

Whether you want a shrub, an ornamental tree, a focal point, or an inconspicuous privacy screen, yew is a good option. This evergreen shrub features soft needles and can reach up to 60 feet tall and 20 feet wide, depending on the variety. Yew is adaptable, grows well in zones 3 through 10, and handles both sunny positions and shade. 


Yew shrubs have an excellent natural form but can be pruned to maintain a specific shape, giving them wide versatility in a landscape. Border a yard, driveway, or patio space with a row of yew shrubs, or feature these evergreens in a mixed bed to add texture and height.

Shrubs To Plant With Yew

Plant yew along a foundation wall for a consistent row of greenery, and plant a row of hydrangeas, viburnums, or roses in front. The flowering deciduous shrubs need to be spaced further apart to allow air to flow, but the evergreen yew will fill in the visual gaps. 

Give the space a more curated and formal feel by alternating yew with shrubs like lilacs, elderberry, or azaleas. Choose a small variety that will reach the same height as the flowering shrubs, or add drama by choosing a tall type with a columnar form.

Perennials To Plant With Yew

If you want the look of a fully landscaped space without much maintenance, plant perennials that come back each year with shrubs like yew. Partial sun and shade perennials like leafy hostas look stunning near yew shrubs. Hostas bloom, but the flowers are not showy, as these plants are all about foliage. The broad hosta leaves create a nice contrast against the narrow yew needles.

Spring blooming hellebore is another perennial that prefers full to partial shade, making it a good companion for yew. The stunning, long-lived flowers are often some of the first to bloom and will stand out against the evergreen foliage of yew. 

Astilbe is another shade-loving perennial that boasts foamy flower stalks all summer. The brightly colored flowers pop against the consistent greenery of the yew. For a sunny area, pair privet with bearded iris. You can enjoy the late spring or early summer flowers against the wall of bluish-green or yellow-tinged foliage of the yew.


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Annuals To Plant With Yew

The glossy foliage and bright blooms of impatiens grow nicely in front of yew. Impatiens flowers only measure about two inches across, but their numbers and saturated color make a significant visual impact and ensure consistent color from spring through the first frost.

Choose coleus if you want bold color from something unique and unexpected. This plant has vivid leaves in shades of burgundy, purple, pink, chartreuse, and green. Coleus can maintain a low profile or grow several feet tall, so select a variety that fits your space and coordinates with the size of the yew.

Best Companion Plants For Yew in Containers

Violas only reach about six inches tall, but they make a big impact in a mixed container. Match violas in a container with a smaller yew for a more consistent scale. A large yew may overwhelm the smaller viola. Move the container to a spot with full sun to partial shade, as both plants accept a range of light conditions.

Plants Not To Grow With Yew

Yew is prized for its ability to grow just about anywhere, so it’s hard to find plants that cannot live alongside this evergreen. Wet or boggy conditions are a dealbreaker for yew, so plants like cardinal flower and calla lily are not likely to survive the drier conditions yew requires. Aggressive growers like artemisia are also not the best fit and may become weedy around yew shrubs.

Best Plants To Grow With Yew

Yew is a good choice for an outdoor space because it is adaptable and can handle a range of growing conditions while still providing dependable year-round color and structure. All plants in an area must have similar care needs, so while yew can grow in full to partial sunlight or shade, ensure all of the companion plants will thrive in the designated planting space. Plant yew with flowering bushes, like hydrangea or elderberry, for a low-key space, or mix in annuals like coleus and impatiens for a burst of color.

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Author Alison Cotsonas - Published 10-05-2023