Yew Isn't Blooming

While yews are typically prized for their evergreen foliage and usefulness as a dense shrub, the fruits of the yew are also attractive. In addition, flowers and fruit abundance are indicators of plant health, so if a yew is producing no flowers or fruit for several years, you may need to adjust your care practice. Yews bloom annually in early spring. Male flowers look like small rounded cones that start green before becoming yellow-ish white and releasing pollen in early spring. The flowers of female plants are small, scaly, and inconspicuous, but mature into highly modified cones that are red and fleshy. They are often referred to as berries but are in fact arils. Most yews are dioecious, so male and female flowers grow on separate shrubs or trees. 


Common Reasons Why Yew Isn’t Blooming

Yews are typically not grown for their flowers or fruit, so pruning is often the primary reason why flowers and fruit development is limited. It is also important to remember that some yew cultivars are only male or female and that most yews in general are either male or female. So, it may be futile to look for female flowers or fruit development, depending on the plant. Yews in full shade may not bloom or set fruit as well as their counterparts that receive full or partial sunlight. Excessive nitrogen fertilizer application also encourages vegetative growth. This growth may be at the expense of blooms and fruit or could be blocking the visibility of fruit.

Pruning Yew To Help It Bloom

A regular pruning regimen will encourage yew bloom and fruit development. Most importantly, pruning carefully and by hand rather than by using an electric or gas-powered trimmer will minimize the removal of branches that are loaded with flowers. Consider postponing pruning until early summer, and prune female plants in a way that minimizes the removal of female flowers and fruits. If a yew is particularly overgrown, it may be difficult to notice flowers and fruit. In this case, try cutting the yew back significantly this year and then prune sparingly the following year. Shearing, or removing the tips of branches to give the yew a tidy appearance, encourages dense foliage to grow. 


Fertilizing Yew To Help It Bloom

Properly applied fertilizer encourages yew bloom and fruit set, while improper fertilizer applications can prevent flowering. Use a balanced, slow-release fertilizer applied annually each spring. Avoid excessive nitrogen fertilizer applications, as this will encourage vegetative growth while inhibiting flowering. Yews may only require fertilizer applications every few years or when growth seems slow.


Get Yew To Produce More Blooms

Choosing female specimens is necessary to ensure fruits will develop on yews. However, keeping at least one male yew in the vicinity will allow greater pollination and fruit development. Be mindful of fertilizer applications; established yews may not need any supplemental fertilizer and definitely should not receive excessive nitrogen. Yews will only bloom once annually in spring, so do not expect blooms to last beyond this time or repeat later in the summer. Encourage overall plant vigor by applying a mulch layer over the root zone, making sure the yew has adequate moisture during dry spells, and performing routine pruning.

Why Yew Isn’t Blooming

  • Excessive nitrogen fertilizer 
  • Male and female plants are separate
  • Shearing may remove flowers and fruit
  • Shady location
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 Author Angela Ryczkowski - Published 4-10-2023