The Q&A Archives: Yew With Yellow & Falling Needles

Question: I live in Mt. Prospect, IL. My landscaper planted a Japanese Pyramidal Yew -Capitata about 2 years ago in the front of my house which faces east. It was doing ok until this year. It is approximately 3-1/2 feet tall. 2 other evergreen shrubs planted next to it are doing fine. It gets enough sun. Most of the needles on the bottom half are yellow and falling off. What can I do? What could be wrong?

Answer: When the needles on a yew turn yellow, the first reaction is that there is a disease or insect problem. But, evergreen needles do not stay green forever. The older, inner needles discolor and naturally drop off after one or more years. Yew needles turn yellow and drop in the late spring or early summer instead of in the fall. I think what you are seeing are the older second and third needles dropping. It's normal and natural. You can force healthy new growth if you prune your yew back a little. This should keep it bushy and green, even at the lowest parts of the plant.

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