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Ask Extension: Do I need to protect my yew this winter?

November 17, 2020
Small yew tree in snow.
Planted in the right conditions, yews can tolerate winter weather and provide winter interest in our landscapes.

I planted an upright yew evergreen shrub this summer. Do I need to wrap it in burlap for winter or protect it in some other way? It is planted on the southern side of my home.

Yews are great landscape plants and grow well in well-drained soil that is evenly moist during the growing season. Yews are also one of the few evergreens in Minnesota that grow in part to full shade locations. Other evergreens like spruce, pines, arborvitae, fir and junipers all need full sun. 

When planted in the right conditions, yews can tolerate our cold winters without protection. However, they can experience winter burn and bleaching and should be planted on the north-facing side of buildings.

Winter burn occurs when the winter sun heats up the cells in the needles. When the sun sets or goes behind clouds, foliage temperature can drop, injuring or killing the foliage. Winter sun can also bleach needles.

Just a reminder that it is also important to water evergreens well through the growing season and fall until the soil is frozen to help retain needles through winter.

Read more about protecting trees and shrubs in winter.

Author: Julie Weisenhorn, Extension educator, Horticulture

Related topics: Yard and Garden News Fall
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