Yewtopia Plum YewCephalotaxus harringtonii ‘Plania’
View more from Yew Trees
30 day - ARRIVE AND THRIVE™ guaranteeLearn more
Probiotic Root Stimulant
Cephalotaxus harringtonii ‘Plania’
Outdoor Growing zone
Full Sun, Partial Sun
The Yewtopia Plum Yew is a compact spreading evergreen shrub, growing to 3 or 4 feet tall and wide, and ultimately a bit larger. It can easily be trimmed and clipped into neat hedges and formal specimens, and is very similar in appearance to the English or Japanese yew. However it grows well in hot and humid areas, where those plants do not. The soft needles are up to 2 inches long and they are rich, dark green all year round. This handsome shrub is perfect in shady parts of your garden, where it can be hard to find plants that will grow.
Partial or full shade suits the Yewtopia Plum Yew perfectly. In very dense shade the growth may be more open, and slower, but otherwise it is the perfect choice for shady places. It tolerates high temperatures and high humidity in summer very well. Normally free of pests or diseases and not bothered by deer, it is also non-toxic, and so safe for children and pets. It can be trimmed easily at just about any time, and even old, leafless branches will re-sprout.
Yew trees (Taxus) are classic shrubs for shady parts of the garden, and their soft needles and rich green coloring is universally admired. If you live in warmer zones, though, it can be a difficult plant to grow, and many gardeners in the Southeast become frustrated and upset from trying to grow it. The good news (there is always good news) is that there is a solution. The Plum Yew is a shrub that is very similar in appearance to yew, but it’s one that is much happier in areas with hot and humid summers. Just as attractive, just as shade tolerant, but so much easier – an unbeatable combination. Some plum yew varieties do look a little different than true yew, so if you want that classic look, plant the Yewtopia Plum Yew, which is almost a perfect double for spreading yew. The soft needles, the arching young shoots, and the ability to trim it into low hedges or specimens – all these make it definitely a utopian solution for yew-loving southern gardeners. Typically growing just 3 to 4 feet tall and wide, it looks great beneath taller plants and trees that cast shade over the beds, leaving them dull and dusty. Your garden will look so much more lush, beautiful and complete if you fill all its corners, even those difficult shady ones. This bush is the answer – the struggle is over.
The Yewtopia Plum Yew is a broadly spreading low evergreen shrub, very close in appearance to yew (Taxus). It has a vase-shaped growth habit, sending up shoots at about 45 degrees to the ground, so that after a few years it will be perhaps 3 or 4 feet tall and the same across. Like all conifers, it will continue to grow indefinitely, so although always staying compact, it will in time, if untrimmed, become significantly larger.
The leaves are an attractive dark green, and glossy, looking great all year round. They are soft to the touch, between 1 and 3 inches long and ¼ inch wide, like a thin ribbon tapering to a rounded tip. They form two rows along the stems, arching upwards and outwards like the wings of a bird – very graceful and attractive. On older stems the needles become more congested, obscuring this feature. Young spring shoots are bright, light green, maturing to a classic darker tone. Needles last for 4 or 5 years, before turning yellow in summer and falling, but by then they will be deeper inside the bush, and not noticed. Older stems are leafless and thicker, with a rough, textured bark of dark brown to dark gray. The Plum yew does develop round, one-inch edible plum-like brown fruits, but this is only on female plants, and it isn’t clear if this tree is male or female, as it rarely produces the small, insignificant flowers.
Wherever you have areas that are partially or completely shady, the Yewtopia Plum Yew is a great choice. Plant it beneath larger shrubs or tall trees, as a taller ground cover (space bushes 3 feet apart) or background to shorter plants. Use it for foundation planting on the north and east sides of your home, where it can be trimmed as needed. Out in the garden it can be left to grow untrimmed, unless you want that formal look. Use it in woodland areas, or the most formal setting. In zones 8 and 9 it can also be used in planter boxes and pots, where it looks great. Gardeners in zones 6 and 7 can also grow the true yew, but why not grow this bush as well, for some subtle variety?
Completely hardy from zone 6, this bush really comes into its own in warmer parts of zone 7, and in zone 8, 9 and 10. There it is too hot for yew, but not for the Yewtopia Plum Yew. It will also probably grow in zone 5, but there is a risk that in a severe winter there could be damage to foliage and younger stems.
The Yewtopia Plum Yew will take full sun, especially in cooler zones, and it is perfectly happy with just a few hours of direct sun each day. It also grows well in full shade if it is not too dense – so beneath deciduous trees is fine, underneath low-growing large evergreen trees it can be more difficult, and growth will be slow and more open. It grows in any well-drained soil, preferring sandy soils with added organic materials. It enjoys plenty of water, but doesn’t like to be in heavy, wet ground. Once established it has moderate drought tolerance, but benefits from deep soaking during long dry periods.
This plant is not usually troubled by pests or diseases, and it is normally left alone by deer. Unlike the true yew, no parts are poisonous, so it is completely child and pet safe. It can be trimmed with shears at almost any time, although late fall is not advised in cooler zones. Unlike many other conifers, you can cut back to bare branches and they will quickly re-sprout vigorously. It is easy to trim into a neat low hedge, or simple shapes like cubes, balls and broad pyramids.
Plum Yew, Cephalotaxus harringtonii, is native to Japan, and sometimes called ‘cow-tail pine’. It grows in the shade beneath larger trees, and can itself become a small tree to 20 feet tall or even more. The name was at first incorrectly spelled ‘harringtonia’. That was corrected more than 10 years ago, but this older name is still commonly used. It was introduced into Europe in 1829 and originally called a Taxus. Later its differences were realized, and it was re-named, to honor the Earl of Harrington, who had been active in promoting its use in English gardens. Later it was brought to America, or it might have arrived directly from Japan in the 19th century, crossing the Pacific. The variety sold with the trademarked name Yewtopia was developed for the Southern Living™ Plant Collection, and has been given the botanical name of ‘Plania’. Where it came from, or who first grew it, is something we don’t know.
If you have struggled with yew trees in hot, humid areas, you aren’t alone. Time to admit defeat (or get smart) and start growing the amazing Yewtopia Plum Yew. Get that ‘yew look’ so easily, no matter where you live. Order now – we won’t have these plants in stock for long, yew know.