The Podocarpus bonsai tree (also called Yew or Buddhist Pine) is a versatile evergreen originating in China. The tree produces purple or green berries.It can tolerate cooler climates with slower growth and it grows quicker in warm climates. It can also be grown indoors and outside. These characteristics make the Podocarpus bonsai great for beginners.
The plant thrives with ample sunlight, but can live in shadier conditions. Too little sun will cause the needle-like leaves to become larger. Too much sun and heat will burn the leaves, so the Podocarpus requires shade when the sun is at its hottest.
Position & light: The Podocarpus can be grown indoors or outside. This tree thrives in direct sunlight but needs protection from harsh midday sun. It can also grow in darker conditions, but this is not ideal and the plant will begin to change the leaf shape and size to compensate for the lack of sunlight. The Podocarpus bonsai can tolerate light frosts, but keeping the plant above 55ºF is preferable. 61-68ºF is the optimal range for winter temperatures. The Podocarpus needs humidity to grow and survive and will dry out quickly if placed in an environment that is too dry.
Watering: The Podocarpus bonsai is vulnerable to root rot if overwatered. The plant likes moist soil, but requires adequate drainage. If the needles turn gray, the plant is being overwatered. Using a drip tray with a podocarpus is ideal because the water evaporates and creates a humid environment for the plant. Misting the podocarpus is also recommended to retain humidity.
Fertilizing: Fertilizing the Podocarpus with fish emulsion and fertilizer cakes is ideal. If this is not an ideal option for you, liquid fertilizer is also a viable option. Use fertilizer twice a month from Spring to Autumn and once a month during Winter. To keep the Podocarpus healthy, feed the bonsai chelated iron twice a year and epsom salt (diluted 1 Tbsp to 1 gallon of water) two-three times a year.
Pruning: The pruning schedule of the Podocarpus can be all year long. If you prune the branches often, the Podocarpus with have denser foliage. This tree can be styled into many shapes depending on preferences. The podocarpus will naturally grow upward, but thorough pruning will cause the plant to grow side branches.
Wiring: Wire young branches carefully, making sure not to wire over the leaves. Leave the wire on for two-three months. Don’t let the wire cut into the bark, as it may leave scars on the branches. Also, old wood is brittle and not suitable for wiring.
Repotting: Repot the Podocarpus every two-three years in acidic soil with good drainage. Prune the roots cautiously, only removing about 10-15% if the roots have become dense.