A very attractive fruit bearing shrub for shaded areas. The plum yew produces some really tasty juicy olive sized fruits while growing in a shaded woodland setting, north sides of structures or other shaded locations. Can take a little sun in cooler zones. It looks just like a regular yew bush, but its very slow growing making maintenance low. It's a great choice for topiary due to its slow growth, and better yet even though deer will eat regular yew bushes to the ground they don't touch the plum yew, plus the squirrels don't eat the fruits making it easy to keep your crop without battling wildlife. Plum yews are attractive evergreen shrubs that make great pot plants, borders, hedges and forest understory and give a fruity crop as well. Seeds are more of a challenge to germinate as they need stratification and are slow growing but the results are worth it. Has male and female plants so you will need one of each to get fruits. Perfect plant for shady areas as long as soil is well drained. It's a grow it and forget it plant even if you don't want the fruit.
Description of Japanese Plum Yew (Cephalotaxus harringtonia).
Growing Japanese Plum Yew (Cephalotaxus harringtonia) from Seed.
This is one of the more challenging seeds to grow as it needs stratification and germination can be slow and erratic. Some seeds will germinate very quickly when the spring (or warmer period) comes others will not germinate for 18 months requiring a whole year of cold warm cold before they deem to grown.
Since they are so slow to germinate its best to sow them in individual pots. Seeds are fairly large a so 2 inch (5 cm) pot is ideal. In this way they can be monitored and cared for as the seedlings appear.
For outside sowing plant in pots in fall and leave them outside in a shady area over the winter. Just ensure that the pots do not dry out on during sunny spells. Rain and snow are good. Leave snow on top of pots if it forms and allow it to melt naturally. Keep pots in a cool shady spot and be patient bring seedlings our and tend them as they germinate but keep pots around for 2 years or more for the slow ones. Just don't let them dry out during the summer months when its easy to forget about them.
If sowing inside consult our stratification instructions to determine which method is best for you.
All our seeds are kept under refrigerated conditions. We keep the seeds in the fruit as much as possible and only remove it before shipping. This ensures that the seed remains most and cold for as long as possible.
Japanese Plum Yews are very slow growing so keep in the pots until they are large enough to plant out. This can take a year or more and may be best if they are transplanted to a larger pot and cared for before planting out in years 2-4. When ready plant in late spring after all frosts are past.
Location and Care of Japanese Plum Yew (Cephalotaxus harringtonia).
Makes a great understory in woodland settings where it can be used as a focal point of the forest. In other shady locations it can be used to create a hedge or used along pathways, or as an accent plant. Takes pruning very well so can be pruned to shape or cut as a hedge. Be aware however that if pruning mistakes can take a very long time to grow back in.
While the plant is fairly hardy the new spring growth is frost tender so may need to protect it from late frosts if shoots are growing. Covering with a old sheet or tarpaulin is usually sufficient. If late frosts are common plant in a sheltered location to prevent regular shoot dieback.
Prefers a sandy well drained soil with some organic material. Cannot tolerate wet soils. Also prefers neutral to slightly acidic soils does not do as well in more alkaline or chalky soils. Care should be taken if growing around house foundations as these tend to be more alkaline due to the building materials.
Since they are so slow growing they also make excellent pot plants for accents outside the house, along driveways and other areas where potted, often shaped, plants are used. Ensure there are good drainage holes in the pot and a well draining soil mix is used. Keep watered to ensure they don't dry out entirely. In colder zones take pots into a unheated garage or shed for the winter to prevent pots from freezing.
Japanese Plum Yews are not heavy feeders so a yearly or twice yearly feeding should be sufficient. If planted in a forest setting no fertilizer should be needed.
Pruning Japanese Plum Yew (Cephalotaxus harringtonia).
Harvesting Japanese Plum Yew (Cephalotaxus harringtonia).
Culinary Uses of Japanese Plum Yew (Cephalotaxus harringtonia).
Medical uses of Japanese Plum Yew (Cephalotaxus harringtonia).