Podocarpus Bonsai Care [Podocarpus Macrophyllus]

There is no doubt that we are living in an era of advancement, technology, and modernization but the popularity of bonsai is increasing day by day in almost all regions of the world.

There are many factors that contribute to its popularity while its ability to change the look of an empty corner and enhance the natural feel of a home is the most prominent. When it comes to a wide range of options that can be used and converted to bonsai, one amazing species can never be ignored which is commonly named, Podocarpus Bonsai.

Podocarpus Bonsai’s unique style, elegance, and charm have made it one of the most frequently seen bonsai in homes and offices. Continue reading this guide as it has all the useful information one can need to know and understand.

SpeciesPodocarpus Macrophyllus
Average Height50 – 70 cm
Average Spread18 inches to 2 feets
Origin CountrySouthern Japan, Southern China, Eastern China
Flower Bloom TimeSpring, Early Summer
VarietiesRidleyi, Polystachyus, Macrocarpus, Fasciculus, Elatus, Chingianus, Chinensis
FamilyPodocarpaceae
LeafNeedled Evergreen
WaterModerate (keep the soil moist but not overwatered)
SunlightModerate (direct or partially shaded area)
MaintenanceMedium

Podocarpus Bonsai history

Whenever you choose a plant for bonsai, the first thing that may come into your mind is: where did it originate? What is the history and background of this bonsai plant? and how did it become so popular?

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Let’s start by knowing its different names commonly used in different regions of the world. Podocarpus bonsai is widely referred to as Buddhist pine, Fern pine, Yew plum pine, Arhat pine, Inumaki, and Kusamaki.

The Podocarpus bonsai tree falls in the small to medium size category and it is native to Japan and China. It initially originated in Japan and remained in that county for a long time. You can get an idea by the fact that the Podocarpus tree is the state tree of Chiba Prefecture, Japan.

This tree then began to be cultivated in China but now can be found in almost all regions of the world mainly in countries like the United States of America, Africa, Australia, New Zealand, India, etc.

Its needle leaves, unique pattern, and easy maintenance have allowed Podocarpus bonsai to provide a relaxed and pleasant feel while sitting in your house. 

Podocarpus Bonsai care

Podocarpus bonsai is an evergreen shrub that remains fresh all year round and grows in a slow manner. It can easily grow in both indoor and outdoor conditions but if you have bright light, indoor conditions are usually recommended for Podocarpus bonsai trees. When it comes to its care, it requires low to medium range maintenance to thrive and grow efficiently. 

Podocarpus bonsai tree pruning, repotting and wiring April 2019

Podocarpus Bonsai temperature

Podocarpus bonsai trees have the ability to easily bear light frost but if the temperature is going too low, they should be protected as they cannot survive in highly cold climates.

During the cold winter days, it is recommended by various experts to keep Podocarpus bonsai at a place with 55 to 69 degrees Fahrenheit temperature (13 to 20 degrees Celsius).

If there is good enough light inside the room or where bonsai has been placed, having a temperature of 20 degrees Celsius is considered best suitable.

Podocarpus Bonsai fertilizer

The frequency of fertilizer may vary depending upon the type of fertilizers, soil, and other conditions around the Popocarpus bonsai tree.

Both liquids, as well as solid fertilizer, can bring you the best results but you should choose the one that suits bonsai the best.

During the growing season of bonsai, it is enough if you fertilize your Podocarpus bonsai tree just once a week if it is in liquid form while this frequency should be about twice a week if it’s a solid fertilizer.

Fertilize your bonsai tree with liquid fertilizer at least twice a month if it is placed in a cold room that too during the winter. It is because podocarpus bonsai don’t usually grow effectively in such conditions.

Podocarpus Bonsai pruning/trimming

Pruning or trimming is one of the most important factors that can boost the growth of a bonsai as it speeds up the process of ramification.

Remove all the unnecessary needles and branches as they will only cause issues in the future and may look ugly as well.

Make sure you have a clear idea of what should be the final shape of your bonsai because pruning will play a major role in shaping podocarpus bonsai.

When to prune podocarpus bonsai?

The best time to prune podocarpus bonsai is when (to be cut) branches reach the length of about 10 cm (4 inches).

This is probably the best time because the branch will begin to get hard after that point. If you are pruning branches for shaping bonsai, the best time is whenever you notice a branch going off or can ruin your desired pattern.

In general, indoor podocarpus bonsai should be pruned during the whole year while outdoor bonsai should only be pruned during the growing season.

How to prune podocarpus bonsai?

  1. Make sure that you only use scissors if you cannot remove branches or shoots with your bare hands.
  2. Cutting with tools can lead to some brown dead spots at the damages which may not look good in the end.
  3. Simply hold the shoot and pull it with your thumb and finger, this will take it out from its weakest point without causing any issues.

Podocarpus Bonsai repotting

Podocarpus Bonsai repotting should be done after every two to three years as it is considered necessary for the better health of a bonsai tree. Don’t remove too many roots while repotting but cut the dead ones off.

Go through all minor to major aspects while reporting and make sure that the new container has the best suitable conditions for the podocarpus bonsai such as the pH value should be around 5 to 6 but not more or even close to 7.

Podocarpus Bonsai pests and diseases

There are minimum chances of a podocarpus bonsai tree getting affected by pests and diseases. This can only happen if your bonsai is living in improper conditions such as having too much water or remaining wet all the time, that too for a long period.

Spiders and scale can occur in such situations but there are various pesticides and sprays that can help you out in this regard. Proper maintenance and care of bonsai will allow you to get into this trouble in the first place.

If you are watering too often or letting the soil stay wet all the time, it can lead to breakage of roots and leaves which can eventually result in a weakened or dead bonsai tree.

Podocarpus Bonsai soil

Soil should be top-notch because it is the very first thing that will determine the growth and better health of a podocarpus tree.

Where some aspects make podocarpus bonsai very touchy in terms of having the best soil, others just don’t.

One thing that should be ensured is that the soil is fungus and pest-free because having any of these in the soil can lead to extra issues that could be a bit difficult to get rid of.

What soil for podocarpus bonsai?

Podocarpus bonsai usually grows better in neutral or slightly acidic soil. Such soil conditions make its growth more rapid and allow the roots to make a firm enhancement in the upgrading of the bonsai tree.

The pH level of soil for podocarpus should range between 5 to 6 as said earlier. Experts claim that having a pH level of more than 7 can cause breakage in bonsai’s roots while sometimes resulting in complete rotting as well. 

Podocarpus Bonsai watering

Calcareous water should always be avoided when it comes to podocarpus or any other bonsai. Water bonsai every time when you notice the soil is getting dry but there should be a good gap in between.

The main aim is to keep the soil a bit moist all the time but not too wet. Podocarpus bonsai leaves have the ability to hold water inside their tissues for a long time which allows owners to have a break in watering.

Make sure that the water is not reaching and staying at the bottom of the bonsai pot for a long time. If this is the case, it can easily result in rotten roots in the long run.

How often to water newly planted podocarpus?

The frequency may vary but as a general rule of thumb, a podocarpus bonsai tree should be watered once in 24 hours during the initial 60 days of its cultivation.

It is necessary to make it grow faster and have enhanced roots as well. After this initial stage, you may skip a day and water every other day.

You can go on with this frequency until the summer’s rain begins in your regions. Watering frequency should be mitigated during rains as there is a lot of moisture in the air which can tackle the needs of bonsai soil to some extent.

How to water podocarpus bonsai?

Where some people use nozzles and hoses for watering purposes, it is best to use a spray bottle for this purpose.

A hose can release too much water or may spill water around the bonsai, ruining your room and table as well.

Using a spray bottle will not only allow you to water in the most appropriate amount but prevent spills as well. Just keep a spray nozzle near to the soil and spray on one point at a time until the soil looks wet.

Podocarpus Bonsai sunlight requirements

Although the podocarpus bonsai tree has the ability to survive and thrive in dark conditions, it is highly recommended to keep it in well-lit conditions.

If kept indoors, it should be placed near a big window so that it can be exposed to sunlight for a relatively good period of time.

Do keep this fact in mind that both low and high lights can cause damage to the podocarpus bonsai tree.

Having low light can lead to elongated and large needles while too much light can cause burn to the leaves and soft stems of the tree.

The experts usually recommend keeping it in a place with a partial shade because you need to protect it from heavy frost while providing it with good sunlight as well.

Podocarpus bonsai indoor or outdoor

Although you can keep podocarpus bonsai trees in the outdoor environment for 12 months a year, it is beneficial to place them indoors when the temperature falls too low and frost comes.

During the warm summer days, Podocarpus Bonsai should be kept indoors in a semi-shaded area but when you reach the autumn season, it is good to just take it completely indoors and place it near a window that is facing the direct sunlight.

When the blooming season, spring comes at your door, place it back again into the outdoor environment. Before doing so, make sure that there is no frost even during the late nights.

One thing that makes indoors a better option is that it will mitigate the maintenance hassle. The soil will take a bit longer to dry fully, which will allow you to water less often.

Apart from this, the chances of getting affected by fungus, pests, and diseases are also far less indoors as compared to the bonsai kept in an outdoor environment.

Types of Podocarpus Bonsai

Podocarpus bonsai is a huge category as experts claim that this plant has about 97 to 107 different species, types, and varieties. This is a great thing as it provides people with options but you should have at least basic information about different varieties to make and take care of your podocarpus bonsai tree in an efficient manner.

Podocarpus macrophyllus bonsai

  • This is the most common and major kind of podocarpus bonsai and it is also the scientific name of this amazing plant species.
  • The leaves of this plant are in a strap shape and can go as long as 4 to 12 cm while having minimum width.

Podocarpus costalis bonsai

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  • This amazing type of podocarpus bonsai is originated from two major countries, Taiwan and the Philippines.
  • This type of bonsai bears fruit as well which are totally safe and edible for humans and pets.
  • Such bonsai can easily be cultivated in normal habitual weather conditions as of an island or near the sea.

Podocarpus falcatus bonsai

  • This type of podocarpus bonsai tree is widely found in African countries such as Eswatini, South Africa, Mozambique, Malawi, etc.
  • The skin of podocarpus falcatus bonsai is waxy in texture and the plant is usually harmless with yellowish to green in color.
  • Some of its big trees that can be found in large forests are more than 1000 years old which makes them one of the oldest species of the podocarpus family.

Podocarpus maki bonsai

  • This is a narrow-shaped podocarpus bonsai.
  • It grows in a relatively slow manner.
  • Due to its slow growth, it was first considered as a dwarf tree but with the right method and maintenance, podocarpus maki bonsai can easily grow large and up to your expectations.

Podocarpus latifolius bonsai

  • Real Yellowwood or yellowwood are the two most common names of podocarpus latifolius bonsai trees.
  • South Africa is the origin of this special tree and they consider it to be very important in their culture.
  • You can get an idea of its beauty and charm by the fact that podocarpus latifolius is the official national tree of South Africa.

Podocarpus nivalis bonsai

  • Podocarpus nivalis bonsai species is one of the few plant types that are restricted inside the geographical area of New Zealand only.
  • It has the ability to withstand extremely low temperatures as it worked out best at -25 degrees celsius in an experiment.
  • It makes one of the best bonsai for the outdoor environment as it is highly frost-hardy.

Dwarf podocarpus bonsai

  • It is a thick shrub and has a dark green foliage color.
  • It is evergreen and grows at a slow rate which also makes it require less maintenance.
  • Due to its thick patterns, it can easily be shaped according to your desires and can also be used as a small hedge instead of a bonsai.

Why is my podocarpus bonsai leaves turning brown?

There are various reasons that could be the cause behind podocarpus bonsai leaves turning brown. Where extreme temperatures and improper sunlight are considered the most prominent causes, some other reasons may also be contributing in the background.

  1. Overwatering or underwatering could be the solid reason podocarpus bonsai leaves turn brown. Too much water can get stuck inside the soil which causes the roots to rot thus weakening the leaves and making them look brown.
  2. Some pests and bugs can also have some serious bad effects and if leaves are suddenly becoming brown while you are following the right procedure, pests attack or disease could be a real issue.
  3. A decrease in the amount of magnesium, nitrogen, iron, or any other nutrients is a big sign of an unhealthy bonsai tree. One of the first indications of such deficiencies is leaves turning brown.
  4. Maybe it’s time to re-pot the podocarpus bonsai tree into a new container, with fresh soil, and maybe some changes in other surrounding conditions as well. Bonsai trees need to be re-poted at least once in two years if not every year.
  5. Pruning or cutting new shoots with a blade, scissors, knife or any other sharp material can sometimes cause the foil to turn brown and it is a normal phenomenon. This is the reason that pinching new shoots with your fingers and thumb is recommended.

How do you keep podocarpus straight?

The first and best way of shaping a podocarpus or any other bonsai tree is by using stings and trimming its branches according to the pattern. The thing may become a bit tricky if you want to keep your podocarpus bonsai straight.

  1. Start by finding the main branch that will become its truck during the full growth phase.
  2. A leaf that is exactly in the center of the podocarpus bonsai is usually the one that becomes its truck in the future.
  3. Simply let this leaf grow in size without tying any strings or bending it in any way.
  4. Keep on trimming all the branches that are offside and can imbalance the leader.
  5. Stake this leader leaf as this will allow it to go straightway up.
  6. Perform this practice until this leader leaf reaches an appropriate height which is now able to grow straight on its own.

Is podocarpus bonsai fast-growing?

This thing depends too much on external factors such as the temperature, light conditions, fertilizers, and the variety of podocarpus bonsai as well.

If a podocarpus bonsai tree is placed indoors with a bit cooler temperature and has low light availability, it will grow in an extremely slow manner and may take double its normal growth time.

On the other hand, if your bonsai has good direct sunlight and lives in a bit warmer climate, it will grow much faster and stronger as well.

Do keep this fact in mind that in a general point of view, the podocarpus bonsai tree is considered slow-growing as it takes more time than other common bonsai trees such as mushroom bonsai, etc.

Are Podocarpus bonsai poisonous to pets?

Do keep this fact in mind that most of the bonsai trees are toxic if not poisonous to both pets and humans. The leaves of the podocarpus bonsai tree contain some unknown types of toxins that can cause some immediate reactions to pets if ingested.

Some of the major outcomes could be severe vomiting and diarrhea. While leaves contain unknown toxins, other parts such as their stems, follower, bark, and even pollen are poisonous and should be kept far away from the reach of your precious pets.

Some experts claim that the area of seed or where the flower is attached can be eaten as they are safe but as a precaution, you should avoid these edibles as well.

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