This is NOT the Fall Color You Want to See in Your Garden
I have been growing 'Hicksii' yews for eight years now. I purchased the little evergreen shrubs in three gallon pots for what I thought was quite a significant price in 2003 (approximately $25 per pot). The eight shrubs were to be used as a privacy screen between my neighbor's home and one of my gardens. I planted them in full to part sun and in a good soil area that was not waterlogged or overly dry. The shrubs grew in a pleasing manner and even bore some berries for me in some years (all berries from yews are poisonous) then just this spring I started noticing some foliage turning brown. Uh oh. I was a bit worried but simply cut out the brown limbs and hoped for the best. As spring progressed the first two shrubs that displayed brown foliage continued to turn completely brown and had to be removed. Removing the shrubs was a big job and took a lot of might but remove them I did and replace them with something more fun. The yew pictured above is not one of the ones I removed in the spring. So far this yew is fairly healthy but right next to it is another yew that is changing its color-and it is not a welcome fall change of color.
I fear this shrub will need to be removed soon and it is a job I am not looking forward to completing. At first I thought perhaps the shrubs had been over exposed or suffered freeze damage in the spring when the problem first surfaced but then the rest of the shrubs began turning brown. I knew at this point all of the 'Hicksii' yews were doomed. I searched high and low in books and on the web for any possible information about why 'Hicksii' yews might die. The information I found was scanty at best. It seems that generally yews grow well in my part of the states in many varied conditions so I was and am still at a loss as to why these 'Hicksii' yews died. I checked for spider mites and saw no evidence of them though I may have missed the signs. Drainage could possibly be a problem as could the drought we had last summer and this year. Then again it could be the heat and humidity but I honestly don't know why the yews died. Does anyone have any experience with this happening to yews? I know one thing, I will not waste my time on these rather pricey shrubs again.....
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