English yews are vibrantly green, but they can turn yellow or brown under the wrong conditions. Incorrect watering habits, poor soil conditions, and many other factors can make an English yew look discolored. However, don’t let that discourage you from trying to save your plants.
A brown English yew can come back if you adjust the soil by reducing or increasing the hydration and drainage. However, if the yew is turning brown from root rot, you have to remove all of the infected limbs. Root rot never goes away, but it can be managed to keep the English yew healthy.
In this article, we’ll explain how you can bring your brown English yew back to life, what causes the discoloration, and several preventative measures.
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How To Bring an English Yew Back to Life
To bring an English yew back to life, follow this method:
- Prune the diseased or damaged leaves. Although English yew is relatively resilient to plant diseases, they can spread quickly once they’re infected. Remove all limbs that look black, torn, wilted, or covered in mildew (it looks like white slime or fuzz). This is an irreplaceable step because it prevents future damage.
- Test the soil condition and make the necessary adjustments. MySoil Soil Test Kit (link to Amazon) checks the pH, minerals, and other nutrients in the soil (link to Amazon). It also lets you know if the soil is suitable for your English yew (and other plants in the garden). Send in a sample and review the results from your smartphone or laptop.
- Use a 10-10-10 fertilizer for the English yew. This means it contains balanced parts of phosphates, nitrogen, and potassium. These compounds are necessary for healthy plant growth, especially when bringing an English yew back from looking brown.
- Aerate the dirt to thoroughly mix the fertilizer and allow oxygen into the soil. There are many ways to aerate the soil, including gardening shovels, telescoping aerators, and more. Choose your preferred method, then aerate about three inches deep per hole near the English yew’s base.
- Use an antifungal spray or a pesticide if they’re the reason the English yew is turning brown. Various insects and animals can turn an English yew brown, especially if they chew the roots. Make sure you use non-toxic solutions that won’t harm neighboring plants. Don’t shy away from spraying the soil, too.
These five steps can make a massive difference in your English yew’s well-being. They can also be applied to many other evergreens.
However, it’s important to know what’s causing your yew to look discolored, weak, or diseased. In the following section, we’ll break down the most common reasons your English yew is looking brown.
What Causes an English Yew to Brown?
Many things can cause an English yew to turn brown, including overwatering, excessive sunlight, and soil that doesn’t have enough minerals. Additional causes include various plant diseases, fungi, and sudden temperature changes. Although yews can handle cold weather, drastic temperature drops can cause winter damage.
Poor Soil Quality
As mentioned above, not having enough nutrients, water, or oxygen in the soil will cause the yew to change colors. You can switch this up by adding new soil, but it’s important to get to the center of the issue.
If there’s not sufficient drainage, you can add loose soil and moss. If there’s too much drainage, you can add a bit of sand or gravel. Avoid clay if possible.
English yews aren’t too good under direct sunlight for more than a few hours daily. The same applies to long-lasting ice buildup.
If your yew looks brown after the season changes, the temperature is more than likely the primary cause. You’ll notice the tips of the needles turn brown before the rest of the limbs.
Disease, Rot, and Fungi
Phytophthora (the bacteria that causes root rot) is largely responsible for ruining an English yew’s roots and turning the needles brown. It’s easy to prevent but difficult to manage.
You can stop root rot in its tracks by never overwatering the plant, aiding the soil drainage, and keeping other plants with the disease away from the English yew.
Now that you know what causes your English yew to turn brown, it’s time to find out how you can prevent it from happening in the first place. Read on for more helpful tips and yew maintenance suggestions.
Preventing an English Yew From Browning
You can prevent an English yew from browning by ensuring the soil always has fresh topsoil, compost, or mulch. Another great trick is to put a sunshade over your yew plants since most of them require filtered sunlight.
Direct sunlight can be problematic, so a small sunshade can work wonders for your garden.
The good news is that most English yews can recover in the spring without any intervention (source). Winter damage browns the needles and limbs, making the plant look like it’s on its last leg. That being said, it might only need a little bit of warmth to pull through.
You can also wrap the base with burlap fabric.
Another cause is using harmful chemicals on or around the English yew. Make sure you only use high-quality, all-natural pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides in your garden.
While some plants can handle the harsh chemicals, others (such as the English yew) can’t. It’s best to stay on the safe side and keep your plants from losing their colors.
While it’s not as common, transplanting an English yew can make it look brown for a little bit. The roots can be shocked by the transition, making it difficult for them to absorb a lot of moisture and nutrients. However, this issue typically goes away on its own.
English yews are tough and can almost always come back after turning brown. The recovery method depends on what’s causing the discoloration, but it typically has to do with soil, water, or pruning. Good luck!
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