Pruning Taxus? Now?

prairiemoon2 z6 MAMarch 7, 2008

Pruning decisions...

What about Taxus shrubs? When is the best time to prune these? I have some serious pruning to do on one older one and another that is only two years old, and is a Hicksii. I want the Hicksii as a screen and not sure if I should just let it grow naturally or should I prune it for it to grow in denser?


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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Spring and early summer are good times. If you are going to prune the Hicks yew frequently over the years, to have a particular shape or appearance then pruning it starting while it is young would fit with that plan. Otherwise, if it is supposed to grow naturally and without requiring regular pruning in future then heading it back now will just reduce the speed with which it fills the space.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2008 at 1:55PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

That's just what I wanted to know about the Hicksii, bboy. On the older taxus, can I prune it now before it starts growth or should I wait for the end of the month?

I am going to let the Hicksii grow naturally without pruning, so I will just leave it alone.


    Bookmark   March 7, 2008 at 2:06PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

The only problem with cutting them now is they won't sprout new growth until later, so you will have to look at them until them. Maybe you don't care about that.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2008 at 4:13PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Ok, good to know. So it will delay the growth but you will still get the same stimulation to grow, right? Thanks that is good information. :-)

    Bookmark   March 7, 2008 at 6:27PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

What I meant was you will have to wait until the initiation of growth at the normal time before it will start to hide the pruning cuts made before then. Pruning will not produce faster overall size increase, it will just cause the sprouting of some shoots (below the cuts) that might not have arisen otherwise.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2008 at 6:31PM
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Dibbit(z7b SC)

Since you are in MA, if you prune now, and then get a warm spell which encourages new growth, and after that a few freezes, the new growth may be damaged, and the net effect will be much smaller than you started with. I would wait to prune until you see the beginnings of new growth, or after the last frost, whichever comes first.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2008 at 9:43PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

I don't think the timing of the spring flush will be affected by pruning. Yews should not have much of a problem with frosting of the new growth anyway.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2008 at 2:25PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

hey bboy .. what about those famous hard frosts... aka freezes in late spring ... after budding out??? zone 5 can be very mean to us suffering out here ...

i dont have any taxus ... so am loathe to make specific recommendations on this plant ... but do note.. it is a conifer...

that said.... i wish we had a picture.... some plants can take to a good pruning ... and come out gangbusters ... the thing to remember.. is you are not disturbing the roots... but reducing the canopy .. so in theory ... the thing ought to grow like a weed in recovery .... but how fast that is.. depends on all kinds of variables ...

but let me tell you this ... when i bought my first house.. i tried all kinds of tricks to renovate what i considered to be historical plants ... for the most part.. it didnt work out well ... what they all ended up be was historical PROBLEMS ... lol ...

think long and hard about where you are going with your garden ... and if it is a problem today .. it will continue to be a problem in the future...

determine if that specific location can be better utilized with a better plant ...

i grew up in a 1950's built subdivision ... way back when .. they planted all these cute little plants RIGHT ON THE FOUNDATIONS ... fast forward 20 years.. and these plants are eating up the houses ... IMHO ... improperly chosen plants.. for the wrong sitings ... and entire neighborhoods looking like heck ...

so ... before you go investing too much in this monster [perhaps emotionally i mean].. decide if youth-in-asia might not help you accomplish your goals .... especially if they are taking prime full sun locations where you can plant a new star of your garden ... since i note your new addiction and catalog requests at the conifer forum .....

NEVER become so attached to a problem.. that you forget that removal of the problem is usually the BEST solution .... and if that logic isn't helpful.. after you massacre it ... oops, i mean prune it .. and then still don't like what is left ... you can remove it in a few years ... when the wisdom of it all really strikes you ... lol

good luck


PS: its easier to remove a stump .. if you leave 2 or three feet of trunk for leverage ... so if you prune.... leave as much .. in case later.. you decide to remove it ...

PPS: when digging out old plants.. be sure you know where all your utilities are buried ... big plants.. too close to the house.. have a way of growing around pipes and electric lines ... phone lines .. septic lines.. sewer lines ...etc

    Bookmark   March 9, 2008 at 1:17PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

well you got some pix posted somewhere else..

how about a pic of this monster???


    Bookmark   March 9, 2008 at 6:15PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Have no idea why it showed up underlined etc.. ??

    Bookmark   March 10, 2008 at 3:49PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

personally .. i would get rid of it .... it is the front of your house.. exactly what statement are you making???

is that really a burning bush ... just to the left of the corner ... i hope there arent more than 2 named plants called burning bushes... if it is the same as my burning bush .. you could chainsaw it about 3 inches above ground.. and it will come back ... or better yet .... apply some 100% round up to the cut stump.. and be done with it ..

what is the bramble in front of it all ... is that going or staying ...

you have posts all over GW ... i think you have lots of dreams.. and too many projects for one year ...

i would suggest you clear out the front of the house ... and start over ... and let some of the backyard issues go for future years.. if budget is an issue ...

if budget is not an issue ... we can all dream .. remove all the maples on your property ... and pay to have them removed from the neighbors ... and then you can really live your gardening dreams ... lol ... but since i am not seeing a castle in the pix... i presume that is out of the question .....

the front of your house ... well .. in my world it prime.. the first project ... it will add value to your property.. and your house ....

and it appears there is a drop off.. think about retaining walls .... picture below.. to my small project.. turned into a giant project.. lol ... took two years.. but i had a plan ..

you will have to remove all the plants.. to fully understand the layout of the land.. to develop a plan to move forward ...

i suspect that your frustration.. is trying to deal with the whole property in one fell swoop .. or one summer ...

good luck

    Bookmark   March 10, 2008 at 4:21PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA


Gee, why don't you say what you really think? [g] I am still scratching my head trying to figure out where you are coming from.

I appreciate your advice in regard to replacing rather than pruning my shrubs in the front of my house. Good advice. I also appreciated that you felt comfortable to share your own experiences about your past efforts to save shrubs that in the end, you wished you had jetisoned sooner. I love hearing about other people's experiences. But you just stepped over the line a little bit with the rest of your comments and advice.

'you have posts all over Gw'...?? I have asked about pruning this taxus and about which shrubs are appropriate for my situation. That's it.

I have...'too many projects for one year' What??

The fact that your post contained a number of 'lol' s tells me that your intentions were right. So I am just going to assume that you meant well. I hope you will take this response in the spirit with which it is given, constructively. Just didn't want you to go around thinking making these kind of comments were well received by those you give them to. [g]

Hang in there Ken...winter is almost over.


    Bookmark   March 11, 2008 at 8:04AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

sorry if i crossed some line ...

you want to screen the yard .. fix the front of the house .. and add conifers all over the place .. all the power to you .... i am trying to help you ...

when i have projects of such magnitude ... i have a hard time prioritizing them all ... i try to start with the most important.. and move through them .. one at a time ...

all i was suggesting .. trying to anyway .... was to prioritize them ...

but i would also change what i suggested ...

i would add all screening plants.. ASAP .. so they can get moving on their job ...

and then i would start working on the front of the house ... you do whatever you want with the taxus .. all i suggested was that i would be done with it .... no matter how you do it ... you will end up with a big ugly stump.. for a year or two ... while it gets its act back together and regrows a nice canopy ... and i was TRYING to suggest .. that maybe you wouldnt want that in front of the house ...

further.. i was trying to get you to look beyond the immediate fix of pruning.. and trying to see if you had some grander.. long term project regarding the area where the taxus is ... why spend a day .. pruning and disposing of all the taxus branches.. if within a few years ... you would do some crazy retaining wall job .... try to avoid.. having to do the same job more than once .. been there .. done that ...

and then i would start thinking about all the conifers i wanted to add ...

perhaps.. another way to look at it ... get the basic structure of your garden going in the direction you want ... such as the screening ... and the taxus.. and whatever else ... and once the backbone of the garden is done.. then move on to adding all the cool stuff ...

you go girl .... and good luck ...


PS: there are never enough posts this time of year ... all i was pointing out was that you have projects involving shrubs.. conifers... etc ... NOT that you posted too much .. jeez.. that would be the pot calling the kettle black ... i will leave you alone .. good luck

    Bookmark   March 11, 2008 at 9:02AM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Good morning ken.. :-)

Thanks for your efforts to clarify your previous post. The advice that you are offering is good general advice, but the way in which you have given it to me comes across a little critical. That after reading my posts, you thought I was particularly in need of hearing it.

It's okay. Your heart is in the right place, and your advice is good advice.

Not biting off more than you can chew
Putting in screening plants first
Think and plan and save yourself from doing it twice

All advice, I appreciate being reminded of. :-)

I often find myself in the position to give advice too, so from one advice giver to another, I think you have valuable experience and knowledge about gardening to share, but like the rest of us, the way in which you share it could be improved upon. Advice that I have been given and have found helpful is summed up pretty much in the brief article I linked to below. You never know, you might find something that you can use.


Here is a link that might be useful: The Art of Giving Advice

    Bookmark   March 11, 2008 at 11:23AM
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