Japanese Yew Bonsai Watering Guide

The Japanese Yew, aka Spreading Yew, is a beautiful addition to your space with spectacular needle leaves and berries. Its flexible but durable bark is widely used for making fence poles and bows. It comes in a variety of sizes and makes an excellent bonsai. Moreover, this tree is famous for its longevity, and some have been in existence for more than 2,000 years.

However, you might find it challenging to maintain this majestic tree if you don’t have the correct information. In this article, we’ll discover some key aspects to its watering, so you can keep your bonsai thriving all year long. 

Japanese Yew Bonsai Watering Guide

Growing Conditions

Japanese Yew needs shade and small amounts of sunshine to survive, along with well-drained acidic soil. If needed, add perlite for aeration and to make it more porous. If you’re staying in a warm climate, it’s a good idea to take extra care as this tree doesn’t grow in super-hot weather.

A healthy Japanese Yew will bloom during spring, between March and April. You should also be careful if you have any pets as this tree and its parts could be dangerous if ingested by them.

Watering Requirements

Yew trees need less watering, and they’re also sensitive to poorly drained soil. For this reason, you may underwater it but never overwater it. It would help if you kept a layer of mulch on the soil over the root. It helps keep the soil cool and also prevents any water loss. If your bonsai is relatively younger, add compost to its base. It helps add organic matter to the soil and loosen the roots before planting. Make sure the root’s crown is a bit above the soil’s surface.

Also, water it sparingly immediately after planting it. Gradually, reduce the amount in subsequent watering. Japanese Yew cannot tolerate drought and overwatering. The bonsai can suffer from root rot due to sitting in wet soil for long, if overwatered. Watch out for the symptoms like black and wilting leaves and rotting roots. If it persists, it could be fatal for the tree and ultimately damage it. 

Other diseases that can affect Japanese Yew are Needle Blight and Sooty Mold. Needle blight is a fungal infection that affects the tissue and leads to wilting foliage and spotting. Sooty mold is a black fungus caused by a sweet substance emitted by the scale and mealybugs on the leaves. If you don’t treat this substance on its first signs, it could result in an insect infestation in the tree.

Handy Tips

Don’t plant your bonsai where it receives full sunlight. It’s a cold-hardy plant and doesn’t do well in excessive sunlight. It needs partial to full shade. It’s also a good idea not to over prune while your bonsai is establishing as it may hamper its growth. Otherwise, the yew responds well to pruning. You must also protect the tree from the weather elements like dry and cold winds and direct sunlight, as that can lead to its browning and desiccation. You might want to plant the tree in the building’s south or southwest. Also, please don’t expose the tree to extreme cold temperatures below – 25°F.

Japanese Yew Bonsai Watering Guide
Image courtesy of 4.0 International


Investing in a Japanese Yew is a good decision. If you care for it nicely, it can last for generations. It also gives an aesthetic appeal to your living space and brings positive energy. Make sure to provide it with a moderate amount of water and not let it sit in wet soil. The best is to place it in a spot where it can get morning sun and shade the rest of the day.

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Ekta is currently living in Vancouver Island, Canada, famous for its natural beauty and gardens. Originally from India, she has also studied and worked in Scotland and England. She admires flowers and floral arrangements and loves to travel and spend time with nature.

She’s currently exploring the world of bonsais and is looking forward to growing a red maple and a rose bonsai. In her opinion, empathy is an important trait in understanding our surroundings and making the world a better place; and thus, it’s essential to keep an open mind to things and have a learner’s perspective.

She also likes spending time with dogs and has an inclination for creativity. Writing, to her, is a good mental exercise and a great way to inspire new ideas in the minds of readers.




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