Planting 2 hicks yews in a rectangular container.


The container 40″ w x 20″h x 16″ across. Can I plant 2 hicks yews on an open terrace, east facing, with windy conditions from lake Ontario


Thank you for contacting the Toronto Master Gardeners with this interesting questions on growing Hicks Yews in containers.

The Hicks Yew (Taxus x media ‘Hicksii’) is a cross between English and Japanese yews. It is hardy and grows easily in full to part shade, in medium moisture soil with good drainage soil. It does not tolerate wet, poorly draining soil. It is susceptible to winter burn if in unprotected areas. Insect pests, while infrequent, include weevils, mealybugs and scale.

These environmental conditions lead me to believe that it would be possible to grow a Hicks Yew on an open terrace, east facing, with windy conditions from Lake Ontario. That being said, the tree would need to be protected during the winter from winter burn which can lead to needles drying out. Perhaps you can cluster the tree in a more sheltered part of your terrace, or erect temporary barriers to block the prevailing winds from Lake Ontario. You want the temperature in the soil and around the plant to remain as constant as possible, with only gradual or mild fluctuations.

Now for the “container” part of your question. The Missouri Botanical Gardens says that the ‘Hicksii’ is a “dense, narrowly columnar cultivar with ascending branching. Typically matures to a height of 18-20′ with a spread of 6-10′ wide after 20 years. It is more often seen as a 9-12′ tall plant.” That is a large tree to plant in a container that is 40″ w x 20″h x 16″ across. Your question implies that you were planning on planting two yews in the one container. Perhaps only one tree per container would be a better idea.

It is possible to grow Hicks Yews in containers. They will not grow as high or as fast, and they will need to be pruned each year. In this way, you are putting them through a “bonsai” process.

The Morton Arboretum has the following suggestions on pruning: “Prune all evergreens, except pines, before new growth starts in the spring or during the semi-dormant period in mid-summer. When pruning, follow the general branching pattern to maintain the natural shape. Remove dead, diseased, or broken branches anytime. Prune again in mid-June. Annual shearing should be done after new growth has expanded. Follow-up shearing should continue throughout the growing season. To avoid stimulating new growth late in the season (thus preventing winter injury), do not shear yews after August.”  Morton Arboretum

You may find this previous question on terrace container gardening interesting: TMG question and answer

In addition, there is a Gardening Guide:  Container Gardening:  A Toronto Master Gardener’s Guide:  Gardening Guide

For more information on care of yews, please see:

Missouri Botanical Gardens

For more information on growing conifers in containers, you may find this article from Brooklyn Botanic Gardens interesting:

Brooklyn Botanic Gardens

I am sure that the beauty of your terrace will be enhanced with the growth of your Hicks Yew.