Podocarpus, or Chinese yew, Buddhist pine is a gymnosperm, a conifer of the Podocarpaceae family. More than 100 varieties live in the whole world. But for bonsai we are interested by Asian varieties. P. macrophylla or Chinensis is one of the most used for bonsai. But it’s not a dwarf and it’s leaves are long. P. macrophylla Maki is a shrub and is smaller. P nivalis or Alpine yew is a dawrf form, very used as bonsai in West. In every cases the leaves are lanceolate, dark green a little like yew’s leaves, arranged on stiff branches. The growth is not very fast and the bark takes a few years to be formed.
This tree roots very easily. So you can make cuttings. When you trim your trees at the end of summer put the hardwood cuttings in a drainy soil (sand) and in a hot and damp atmosphere. Use also rooting hormone. That’s all. You can also use softwood new growths but this time place them in water. When you see roots place the cuttings in a drainy bonsai soil, carefuly.
Repotting / Soils
Nothing particular about soil. Akadama would be the best. But in other cases use drainy soil. Always with more than 80 % sand, akadama, pumice , gravel grains. The 20 % remaining could be a good compost (because Podocarpus likes acid soil). When you buy a podocarpus check the soil. If it’s an imported tree do not forget to repot it immediately.
Do not cut too much roots. Only 10 to 15 %.
Always organic fertilisation. Do not give very much fertiliser, but always, during the whole growing season. A great principle is to give a light fertiliser like Biogold, but during the
whole fertilisation season. Even during summer if you water well. And, if your water is chalky use twice a year chelated iron.
Podocarpus likes slightly moist soil. So check it every day. If you overwater the leaves will turn gray. And, also mist it every day, particulary if the tree is in your home
Trimming, Pinching, Pruning
During winter you can cut the unecessary or too long branches.
In spring pinch the new buds as they are allongating. If you pinch well all the buds, the tree will bud back hard. You can prune the new growths if they are too long. You will have also buds back. You can cut too long leaves. But they are not always replaced by new
little leaves. Only sometimes.
Like for all our bonsai root roting appears if the soil is too compact. Scales can attack the tree above all if it’s in a too shady place, without air and too much dampness.
Podocarpus is an indoor tree. It can survive very light frost, but it prefers to be inside during winter. When the climate is soft, of course (because a strictly indoor tree does not exist) your Podocarpus must be outdoor in a sunny and light place. The direct sun is appreciated. But in south europe, during the hotest days of summer shade it, otherwise it’s leaves could burn and be dammaged. In your home, during winter, try to find a lighty place. Not too close a window, otherwise it could be burnt by sun.
All the styles can be seen , except broom style. You can find very often excessive moyogi styles with imported trees. You can wire the young branches. But be careful, because the wood lignifies in 3 months and becomes very rigid Try not to crush the leaves.
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