Growing yew from seed takes many years, but you will be successful as long as you follow the precise steps.
Overall, to grow yew from seed, you need to:
- Prepare your soil and seed
- Winterize your seed
- Plant your seed
- Re-plant your saplings outside
- Maintain your yew
The rest of this article will tell you all you need to know about this decorative shrub, what it needs to thrive, and how long it can take to sprout.
Will Yew Trees Grow Where I Live?
This evergreen shrub grows in hardiness zones 4-8 and prefers cool climates.
However, though yews grow best in cooler areas, hard winters can damage them and inhibit growth in the spring.
They also don’t like too much sunlight, preferring partial shade.
Further, yews aren’t too particular about their soil makeup, being tolerant of most kinds of soil.
But, if the soil is too wet, they can get root rot.
Yet, generally, as long as you don’t live in an extreme climate that is very cold or wet, your yew should grow fine.
What Do I Need to Grow Yew From Seed?
To grow yew from seed, you need:
- Potting mix, coarse sand, and peat moss to make an ideal soil mixture
- A large Ziploc bag
- A toothpick (for poking holes in the bag)
- A permanent marker (for writing the date)
- Seeds – these will either be fresh (harvested the previous fall) or older
- One pot (between 4-8 inches or 10-20 cm in diameter) per seed
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5 Steps to Grow Yew From Seed
Step One: Prepare the Soil and Seeds
Yews tolerate a variety of soil types except for very wet soil, so don’t worry too much about having the “right” soil to plant your seeds.
Your soil does need good drainage, though, so adding sand to a potting mix is your best choice.
Thus, you should start by preparing about 2 cups of damp soil containing about half soil and half sand.
Next, mix the soil and seeds together and place them in a large Ziploc bag.
Afterward, use the toothpick to poke 3-4 holes in the side of the bag.
You should also write the date on the bag with a permanent marker to track how long the seeds have been in the bag.
Finally, place the bag in an area at room temperature (about 68-72 F or 20-22 C) and out of direct sunlight.
Leave the bag to sit for six months.
Step Two: Winterize the Seeds
First of all, if your seeds are fresh (harvested the previous fall), you can go directly to step three since the seeds won’t need extra help germinating.
But, if not, you will have to winterize your seeds.
To winterize, you must first wait until your seeds have sat in their Ziploc bag for six months.
Next, place the bag with your seeds and soil in your refrigerator.
Write down the current date on your bag, so you know when you entered them into the fridge.
Now, you must wait another six months before checking to see if any seeds have sprouted.
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Step Three: Plant the Seeds
If your seed has sprouted, take the sprouted seed and plant it in its own pot with a mix of compost and soil.
You should bury the seed about 1/2 inch (1 cm) deep.
Then, after planting, you should make sure you keep your soil moist.
But, don’t overwater your seeds, or they could drown.
Lastly, place the pot in a bright area but not in direct sunlight.
Repeat this process for all seeds that sprout.
After ten months, you should have planted all your seeds, even those that haven’t yet sprouted.
Step Four: Re-Plant the Sprouts
It may take years for all the seeds to sprout.
But, once the saplings are about 5 inches (13 cm) tall, it’s time to transfer them to a permanent location in the ground.
Or, if you live in hardiness zones 7-8, wait until the saplings are about 10 inches (25 cm) in height to plant them in the ground to prevent hard winters from killing them.
Step Five: Maintain Your Yew
Once your yews have developed a mature root system and you plant them in the ground, they are relatively low maintenance.
Overall, they will thrive in full shade, partial shade, or full sun, despite having finicky lighting needs when young.
Then, you just need to water them on occasion, especially during arid summers.
You should also fertilize your tree about once a year.
And now you have a festive tree that can add some natural charm to your landscaping, especially around Christmas time.
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To recap, here are the steps to grow yew from seed:
- Prepare the soil – standard potting mix mixed with sand or peat moss will suffice
- Place your seeds and soil in a large Ziploc bag
- Seal the bag and poke 3-4 small holes in it
- Write the date on the bag
- For six months, place the bag in a dim area, not in direct light. Make sure the bag remains at room temperature, no less than 68 degrees Fahrenheit (20 C)
- After six months at room temperature, place the bag in the refrigerator for 6-10 months.
- If seeds sprout before ten months, take the sprouted seed out and put it in a small pot.
- Repeat this process for each seed that has sprouted until each sprout is in its own small pot. By ten months, you should have all your seeds planted, even those that haven’t yet sprouted.
- Place your pots in a bright area, not direct sunlight, and keep the soil watered.
- Once the saplings have reached about 5 inches (13 cm) in height, plant them in the ground.