Podocarpus Macrophyllus Yew Pine : Learn How to Care Podocarpus Yew Pine Trees

Updated On: Jun 1, 2024

Podocarpus is rapidly rising in popularity among landscape designers for its unique combination of elegant, fine foliage and remarkable adaptability. This genus of evergreen conifers offers a diverse range of sizes, colours, and shapes, making it suitable for a variety of design purposes in USDA zones 7-11.

From dwarf varieties reaching just 3 feet to towering giants exceeding 80 feet, Podocarpus transcends typical conifer stereotypes. Its slender leaves create a delicate yet dynamic texture reminiscent of pines, yews, and even willows, hence its diverse array of common names like 'Japanese yew,' 'willow-leaf podocarp,' and 'Buddhist pine.'

Beyond its aesthetic appeal, Podocarpus boasts exceptional versatility. It thrives in various soil types and tolerates a wide range of pH levels, making it perfect for a vast array of garden situations. Whether you seek privacy trees, specimen pieces, ground cover solutions, or hedge materials, Podocarpus likely has a variety to suit your needs.

Adding to its allure, Podocarpus is remarkably low-maintenance. It is slow to moderate growth rate minimises pruning requirements, and its inherent resilience allows it to flourish in diverse environments with minimal fuss.

Within the diverse chorus of conifers, Podocarpus species stand out for their versatility and elegant forms. With over 100 variations to choose from, selecting the perfect one for your landscape can be a daunting task. This guide unravels the key characteristics of popular podocarpus species, equipping you to make an informed decision aligned with your specific needs and climate.

Podocarpus Macrophyllus (Japanese Yew Plant)

Imagine a stately evergreen, reaching up to 20 meters at maturity. Its glossy needles, 6-12 cm in length, cascade gracefully, casting a welcome shade in sun-drenched landscapes. This shade-tolerant performer flourishes in zones 7-9 and boasts vibrant reddish-purple cones in autumn.

Podocarpus Neriifolius (Fern Pine)

Compact and captivating, this 2-5 meter wonder prefers a sunlit stage. Its fern-like foliage, reminiscent of metallic threads, shimmers with a unique charm. Ideal for smaller spaces or as a textural accent, the fern pine also tolerates coastal conditions, thriving in zones 8-11.

Afrocarpus Gracilior (Hedge Podocarpus)

Picture a stoic sentinel, its dense, upright form (2-5 meters) sculpted into a perfect hedge or windbreak. This fast-growing species boasts fine, needle-like leaves and thrives in sunny or partially shaded spots. Its adaptability shines in zones 8-10, and its rapid growth rate (up to 0.5 meters per year) makes it a popular choice for quickly establishing privacy screens.

How to Find the Perfect Podocarpus for Your Needs

Within the diverse chorus of conifers, Podocarpus plant species stand out for their versatility and elegant forms. With over 100 variations to choose from, selecting the perfect one for your landscape can be a daunting task. We present the key characteristics of popular podocarpus species, equipping you to make an informed decision aligned with your specific needs and climate.

Finding the perfect podocarpus requires consideration of a number of factors. Some of them are:

  • Climate: Each species has specific hardiness zone requirements. Ensure the chosen variety aligns with your location's climate.
  • Space: Plan for mature dimensions to avoid future landscaping challenges.
  • Sun Exposure: Choose podocarpus species that thrive in your prevailing light conditions.
  • Design Role: Select a soloist for specimen planting or an ensemble player for hedges, groundcovers, or borders.

Remember, each podocarpus offers a unique personality for your landscape. By carefully considering your needs and preferences, you can integrate a versatile and resilient evergreen into your outdoor space, enhancing both aesthetics and functionality.

Planting and Positioning

When planting Podocarpus, choose well-draining soil in a location with partial to full sunlight, ensuring adequate space for its potential height and spread. Below, we have covered everything, right from ideal planting conditions and planting techniques to spacing and other considerations.

Ideal Planting Conditions

  • Soil: Podocarpus seeds thrive in well-draining soil, preferring sandy or loamy types. Avoid clay-heavy soils or areas prone to waterlogging.
  • Sun Exposure: Most species tolerate full sun to partial shade, with some, like Podocarpus macrophyllus, preferring shade. Consider your chosen variety's needs.
  • Drainage: Proper drainage is crucial. Amend soil with organic matter for improved drainage if necessary. Avoid planting in low-lying areas.

Planting Techniques

  • Potted Podocarpus: Dig a hole twice the width of the root ball and slightly deeper. Gently loosen the root ball and plant at the same depth as in the pot. Backfill with soil, tamp gently, and water thoroughly.
  • Transplanting Established Trees: Ball and burlap or containerised trees are best for transplanting. Dig a hole larger than the root ball. Carefully lower the tree and fill it with soil, ensuring proper root placement. Stake for support if needed. Water deeply.

Spacing and Considerations

  • Spacing: Consider mature size and growth habits when spacing trees. Allow adequate room for future growth to avoid overcrowding.
  • Structures: Maintain appropriate distance from buildings, walls, and walkways to avoid root damage or conflicts with utilities.
  • Other Plants: Plant trees at least 3-6 feet from other large plants to allow sufficient light and root space.
    By following these guidelines, you can ensure your Podocarpus plant thrives in its new home.

Watering and Feeding

The watering of a Podocarpus should be consistent, with the soil kept evenly moist, and feeding with a balanced fertiliser during the growing season promotes healthy growth. Read on for an in-depth understanding of watering and feeding a Podocarpus.


  • Frequency: Podocarpus generally requires moderate watering, but factors like climate, soil type, and tree size influence the schedule.
  • Climate: In drier climates or during hot summers, water more frequently. In cooler climates or during rainy seasons, adjust watering accordingly.
  • Soil Type: Sandy soils dry faster and require more frequent watering than clay soils.
  • Tree Size: Young trees need more frequent watering than established ones.
  • Signs of Underwatering: Wilting leaves, drooping branches, and dry soil are indicators of water deficiency.
  • Signs of Overwatering: Yellowing leaves, leaf drop, and fungal growth suggest overwatering.


  • Frequency: Podocarpus are not heavy feeders and benefit from light fertilisation once or twice a year.
  • Fertiliser: Use a balanced slow-release fertilizer suitable for evergreen trees and shrubs. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for application rates.
  • Timing: Avoid fertilising during periods of active growth or extreme weather. Apply fertiliser in spring or early summer.

By observing your Podocarpus and adjusting watering and feeding practices based on the guidelines above, you can ensure its optimal health and growth.

Pruning and Maintaining Your Podocarpus for Lasting Beauty

Pruning and maintaining podocarpus leaves involves shaping the plant to desired forms, removing dead or damaged branches, and promoting air circulation. Regular maintenance tasks include mulching to retain soil moisture and suppress weeds. We have covered pruning and maintenance separately with respect to the important factors below:


  • Timing: Prune Podocarpus primarily in late winter or early spring before new growth emerges. Minor shaping can be done throughout the year.
  • Techniques: Different cuts serve specific purposes.
  • Thinning Cuts: Remove dense branches to improve light penetration and air circulation.
  • Shaping Cuts: Trim branches to maintain the desired form and control size.
  • Heading Cuts: Shorten long branches to encourage bushier growth.
  • Deadwood Removal: Prune away diseased or damaged branches to improve overall health.


  • Pest and Disease Control: Podocarpus are generally pest and disease-resistant but monitored for occasional issues like scale insects or fungal diseases. Consult local garden experts for control methods if needed.
  • Weed Management: Remove competing weeds around the base of the tree to avoid competition for resources. Mulching with organic material can help suppress weeds and conserve moisture.
  • Mulching: Apply a layer of mulch around the tree base to retain moisture, suppress weeds, and regulate soil temperature. Choose a breathable material like wood chips or bark.

By following these simple pruning and maintenance practices, you can ensure your Podocarpus thrives and maintains its elegant form for years to come.

Top Tips for Thriving Podocarpus Trees

Successful podocarpus care includes monitoring for pests, adjusting watering frequency based on environmental conditions, and avoiding waterlogged soil to prevent root rot.

Experienced Grower Insights

  • Early Morning Watering: Water deeply at the base of the tree instead of overhead to avoid fungal issues.
  • Organic Mulch: Choose a breathable mulch like wood chips or bark to retain moisture, suppress weeds, and regulate soil temperature.
  • Seasonal Care: Adjust watering and feeding based on the season. Reduce watering in winter and avoid fertilizing during periods of active growth or extreme weather.
  • Site Selection: Choose a location with appropriate sun exposure and well-draining soil for your specific Podocarpus variety.

Troubleshooting Common Issues

  • Yellowing Leaves: Check for overwatering, nutrient deficiencies, or pest infestations. Adjust watering habits or apply balanced fertilizer as needed. Address pest problems with appropriate insecticides.
  • Stunted Growth: Ensure sufficient sunlight, well-draining soil, and proper spacing for optimal growth. Consider soil testing and applying fertilizer if needed.
  • Insect Infestations: Regularly inspect your Podocarpus leaf for signs of pests like scale insects or aphids. Use insecticidal soap or neem oil for mild infestations. Consult a local nursery for severe cases.

Creative Landscape Uses

Podocarpus, with its lush evergreen foliage and versatile growth habits, offers endless creative landscape possibilities. Whether utilised as a striking hedge, a sculpted topiary, or a majestic specimen tree, podocarpus adds elegance and greenery to gardens. Its adaptability makes it an ideal choice for diverse and imaginative landscape designs. Below are listed some of the common landscape uses of Podocarpus:

  • Hedges: Choose varieties like P. gracilior for their fast growth and dense foliage, ideal for creating formal or informal hedges.
  • Borders: Use taller varieties like Podocarpus macrophyllus plant to add structure and privacy to borders, providing a backdrop for other plants.
  • Bonsai specimens: Smaller varieties like P. neriifolius can be trained into stunning bonsai with intricate shapes and textures.

By implementing these tips and embracing their creative potential, you can ensure your Podocarpus trees thrive and add enduring beauty and versatility to your landscape.


Podocarpus offers landscape designers and homeowners alike a conifer that effortlessly blends refined elegance with practical ease. Its adaptability, diverse forms, and minimal upkeep requirements make it a perfect choice for modern landscapes seeking both visual impact and enduring charm.

With its unique character and endless possibilities, Podocarpus is poised to become an essential element in contemporary garden design. Adding a touch of green (or more) always adds sophistication to a space.

Want to learn how to integrate stunning plant arrangements into your home and office? Consult with our expert interior designers at the Interior Company today!

*Images used are for illustration purposes only. Interior Company does not hold any copyright to the images unless mentioned explicitly.


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    How do I plant Podocarpus for optimal growth?

    Choose well-draining soil and a location with partial to full sunlight. Allow sufficient spacing for potential height and spread, and keep the soil consistently moist.

    What feeding regimen is best for Podocarpus?

    Feed Podocarpus with a balanced fertilizer during the growing season to promote healthy growth. Apply according to package instructions and adjust based on plant needs.

    How should I prune Podocarpus to maintain its shape?

    Prune to desired forms, removing dead or damaged branches. Regular maintenance involves shaping, promoting air circulation, and monitoring for optimal growth.

    What are common pests affecting Podocarpus, and how can I manage them?

    Watch for aphids, scale, and spider mites. Treat with insecticidal soap or neem oil. Regular inspection helps catch issues early for effective pest management.

    How often should I water Podocarpus, and what's the best watering practice?

    Keep soil consistently moist, adjusting frequency based on weather conditions. Avoid waterlogged soil to prevent root rot, ensuring a well-balanced moisture level.

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