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Japanese Plum Yew (Cephalotaxus harringtonia)

The Japanese Plum Yew (Cephalotaxus harringtonia) is a resilient and attractive evergreen shrub to add to your garden. Slow-growing and low maintenance, it’s ideal for busy gardeners or those looking for a long-term landscape solution. Once it’s established, it tolerates dry shade and is both insect and disease-resistant. A popular cultivar of this shrub is the Spreading Japanese Plum Yew, otherwise known as Prostrata or Cephalotaxus harringtonia 'Prostrata.' This spreading variant is slow-growing and often used as low shrubbery in gardens.

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  • Light Requirements: Thrives in partial to full shade. It can tolerate some sunlight, particularly morning sun.
  • Soil: Japanese Plum Yew prefers well-drained soil, though it is adaptable to various soil types. Ensure good drainage to prevent root rot.
  • Spacing: Space plants 6-8 feet apart to accommodate their spread and allow for air circulation.
  • Depth: Plant at the same depth as the root ball, and water thoroughly after planting.
  • Watering: Water regularly during the first growing season to establish a deep, extensive root system. Once established, the Japanese Plum Yew is drought tolerant and requires less frequent watering.
  • Fertilizing: Apply a balanced, slow-release fertilizer in early spring to encourage healthy growth. Avoid over-fertilizing, as this can lead to excessive, weak growth.
  • Pruning: Minimal pruning is required. Trim occasionally to shape and remove any dead or damaged branches. Pruning is best done in late winter or early spring before new growth begins.
  • Mulching: Mulch around the base of the plant to retain soil moisture, suppress weeds, and regulate soil temperature. Use organic mulch such as bark or wood chips.
  • Pest & Disease Management: Japanese Plum Yew is highly resistant to most pests and diseases, making it an excellent low-maintenance choice for your garden.


  • Companion Plants: Japanese Plum Yew pairs well with other shade-loving plants like pieris, fatsia and mahonia.
  • Landscaping Uses: Ideal for foundation plantings, borders, and ground covers due to its spreading habit and evergreen foliage.
  • Height and Spread: Japanese Plum Yew typically grows to about 3 feet tall and spreads 6-8 feet wide.
  • Foliage: Features dense, green needle-like foliage that adds rich texture to gardens.