Want to grow Podocarpus? Here, let us check out step-by-step how to grow podocarpus from cuttings.
What is Podocarpus?
The podocarpus is a shrub or small tree with needle-like leaves that are dark green in color. It consists of pointed, leathery leaves situated on stiff and symmetrical branches. Moreover, it can reach 7-15 cm in length and 10 cm in width.
The leaves on the branches of some podocarpus trees are arranged in a spiral, while others are horizontal in two rows. These trees bloom with candle-shaped flowers of both sexes, but some species are monoecious flowers.
Being a self-pollinating tree, podocarpus has male flowers in cones and female flowers made of cylindrical thickened scales, but even without them, the tree looks pretty and ornamental. The fruits it produces are fleshy and bright. It is also called Chinese yew or Buddhist pine.
The plant is an evergreen and can reach 90 feet tall in the wild. It can be grown both indoors and outdoors and is often used as a hedge or screen. It is native to southern Japan and southern China. It’s also the state tree of Chiba Prefecture in Japan.
While you can plant podocarpus from seeds or cuttings, the seeds can be hard to find and take time to germinate (sometimes even up to six months). Hardwood cuttings, on the other hand, take root easily and are a popular way to grow the plant.
About 2000 years ago, the mastery of the cultivation of dwarf subocarpuses in China was conceived. Six hundred years after that, when Buddhism started to emerge in Japan, it migrated there. However, this happened in a more poised and philosophical form.
Many species of these trees are spread all over the world today, over a hundred to be precise, and the podocarpus is one of these species.
The podocarpus is especially famous in Japan where this family bonsai is quite popular and is passed on from generation to generation. They can live for many many years so you’ll often find them being used as heirlooms.
What makes them even more interesting is that the locals believe that if these small trees are properly put inside the house, they can strongly affect energy flows.
According to locals, if you follow the Taoist tradition of the symbolic organization of space (Feng Shui), then you can control these flows and direct them in the right direction.
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How To Grow Podocarpus From Cuttings
Now, let us check out how to grow Podocarpus from cuttings?
Since Podocarpus is a coniferous evergreen, it can root best from semi-hardwood or hardwood cuttings. The best time to root and pot these cuttings is late autumn as that’s when they’ll root best. However, they can do just well enough at any other point during the dormant season too.
If you take the cuttings in spring or summer, they will root at a faster pace but they are likely to fail if not given constant attention and care.
Step-2: Preparing the Equipment
You do not need any special equipment when it comes to new cuttings. However, the pot and tools must be sterilized before the process begins. This is to ensure that bacterial or fungal infection does not infect the cutting.
To do this, wash a 4 to 6-inch plastic container along with a pair of pruning shears and a knife in hot water and soap.
Step-3: Selecting the Cutting
When selecting a cutting, you need to make sure that you pick the right one so that you do not have problems later on. As a rule of thumb, remember to only take yew cuttings once the season’s growth has hardened to about 8-10 inches from the tip of the stem.
Ideally, your cutting should have lots of lush and healthy foliage, no flowers or fruits, and the width of the stem should be as thin as a pencil or about one-fourth of an inch.
Keep a close eye out not to select stems that have any signs of diseases, which include cankers on the bark or yellow needles.
Measure around 9 inches from the tip of the stem and use pruning shears to cut the cutting that you have chosen. The best time to cut it is early morning when the stems are moist and firm.
Step-4: Preparation for Potting
When it comes to yew cuttings, you need to make sure that you make the required preparations before cutting to increase its chances of successful rooting.
Put the softwood (ideally new growth) cuttings in water until the roots are formed and then transplant them into bonsai soil.
The first step is to remove needles situated at the bottom part of the stem. After that, you can scrape off a small portion of the bark at the base of the cutting with a utility knife.
Then, use the rooting hormone talc to dust off the defoliated portion of the stem. The leftover talc can be removed by gently tapping the cutting.
The next step is to make a planting hole for the cutting. This hole should be deep enough to contain the bottom half of the cutting. Stick the cutting into the hole and sprinkle water at the base. Repot it every 3-4 years in spring. Prune the roots only by 10-15%.
Step-5: Rooting Conditions
During the rooting process, the right temperature, moisture, and light are of the utmost importance. The Yew requires warmth in order to thrive.
The cuttings should be placed in an area that stays approximately 75 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and receives lots of light. If you want to keep it indoors, make sure it is near a west or south-facing window. If the light coming in isn’t adequate, you can place a fluorescent lamp there.
If the temperature in the day goes below 60 degrees Fahrenheit, then make sure to warm the pot using a propagation mat. The plant can withstand freezing temperatures through parts of winter, however, if temperatures are extremely cold, it should be brought indoors.
The soil should be moist and fertile, but, make sure it’s not soggy. For that, you can provide adequate drainage. Spray water on the foliage consistently to keep it hydrated, especially if they are indoors. Allow the top two inches to dry out before watering.
Gray needles are a sign of overwatering. Remember the Yew pine is a hardy plant. You can even plant it in coastal areas because it’s tolerant of salt spray from the ocean.
As this plant needs soil to be moist, especially during the active growing season, adding pebbles to the base of the pot can help prevent mildew and mold growth.
As the plant grows, transplanting may be needed. If the plant starts to outgrow its pot, transplant it in early spring with fresh soil.
Step-7: Choosing a Spot
Choose an area that’s big enough to incorporate a full-grown podocarpus. They can grow to be 50 feet (15.2 meters) tall with a spread of up to 25 feet (7.6 meters). If you take care of it and prepare it well earlier on, the cuttings can root in approximately a couple of months.
Apart from choosing a big area, plant your podocarpus in a spot that receives direct or partial sunlight. If that’s not doable, then planting it in a shady area will suffice.
Deciding whether to grow it indoors or out depends on a variety of factors, such as the climate. Since the plant prefers warm climates, grow it indoors if the outdoors is too cold for it.
As mentioned earlier, this plant likes warm temperatures and an ample amount of light. If it doesn’t receive the right light, its needles will be huge and elongated.
Make sure to give it direct sunlight, however during the hottest parts of the day, give it some shade so that it doesn’t undergo leaf burn.
Yews should be grown under the shade for a year before planting them in a landscape to ensure that they have time to produce a robust root system.
During the summer months, water them regularly and frequently spray them with water, especially during hot and dry weather.
Podocarpus hedge shrubs are not heavy feeders and thus don’t always need additional fertilization. It is best to fertilize the fern pine hedge thrice a year: in the spring, summer, and fall.
You may use a balanced 6-6-6 fertilizer for podocarpus shrubs and hedges. This will provide it with the right amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.
Furthermore, it is encouraged to feed the plant fish emulsion along with fertilizer cakes. However, if you’re growing it indoors and the smell of fish is too strong, use liquid bonsai fertilizer. In warm weather, apply it every two weeks and every six in winter.
It prefers a somewhat acid soil a few times a year, so you can feed it with a dose of miracid for iron. This is because this plant requires additional iron as well as magnesium. It will make the leaves extra green and healthy.
To add to that, you can add a dose of chelated iron twice a year. Another thing to be careful of is magnesium deficiency in the plant. To prevent this, you can use around 2-3 applications of Epsom salts a year.
Step-10: Pests and Diseases
The Yew pine is repellent of most pests and diseases so that doesn’t strike a problem when it comes to this plant. However, some pests that affect it are scale, mealybugs, and sooty mold.
As for diseases, podocarpus macrophyllus plants are hardy, sun-loving bushes that are generally resistant to disease. However, they are prone to root rot on soils, which are waterlogged and not well-drained. Wet soil can cause fungal problems in the roots, which can affect the plant’s growth and well-being.
Step-11: Aphids and Scale Insects
Podocarpus aphids are known to destroy new plant growth and cause leaf damage. Scale insects, on the other hand, suck the pine yew’s sap and are capable of damaging the hedge’s growth. Use insecticidal soap or rubbing alcohol to address this issue.
Aphids on Podocarpus Japanese yews are insects in different colors. These may include red, yellow, bluish-purple or orange.
Keep a close watch on the following signs of aphids on fern yews: honeydew, black sooty mold, or curled new leaves. You can spray the hedge shrubs with insecticidal soap or a neem oil solution once a week to get rid of aphids.
Even though it is a hardy plant, there are a few dangers when it comes to it and this includes a potential danger to people and pets. Parts of this plant can be poisonous. This includes fruits, stems, and foliage, which can cause severe vomiting and diarrhea if consumed.
Step-13: Pruning and Wiring
When young, these plants usually grow upwards without branching out on the side. You can easily solve this problem by cutting them back hard, this will lead to back budding. When necessary, tweak back new growth and take out the oversized needles.
Back budding will be restored if half of the bud is pinched away, in addition to that. the leaves will also be reduced. Do not make the mistake of cutting the leaves yourself as this will only lead to brown edges and the smaller replacement leaves that you were hoping for will not form.
Trim the green tips of the plant to shape the tree into fullness. Prune the outermost growth with utmost gentleness to create hedges. If you want a second flush of growth, act in July or August. Try not to shear the branches of this tree in any season.
For about 2-3 months, be vigilant of signs that the wire lignified wood may be starting to cut into the bark. Greenwood may be wired loosely, whereas old podocarpus wood is known to become hard and therefore difficult to bend.
Grooming enables keeping the yew pine tree from taking over the room when grown indoors or outdoors. Trim back the foliage as much as required to manage the growth or then prune it into topiary shapes.
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What Trees Can Be Grown From Cuttings?
Camellia and Honeysuckle are examples of Semi Ripe/Semi-Hardwood Cuttings Plants that often root well from semi-ripe cuttings. The most popular flowering plants from these cuttings are Azalea. Camellia is famous for its large and bright flowers. Honeysuckle is a popular ornamental shrub.
Why Should You Grow Them?
A major advantage of growing this plant is that once established, it is very low maintenance. In addition to that, it is almost pest-free so that’s not something you have to worry about and it does well with both partial shade and direct light.
Even though this plant can be extremely drought-tolerant, it looks much better if you provide it with some water in the dry season.
Some more reasons include the fact that it gives flowers and fruits. The fruits are small and fleshy and purple in color. They are edible and delicious and despite attracting birds, they don’t make a mess on pavements or sidewalks.
These trees and shrubs make the best plants for your porch or backyard. They are elegant and their lush foliage will bring just the perfect energy to the area. Their tall nature makes them ideal to be used as screens for privacy.
The smaller ones make beautifully shaped plants in the yard. To top that, you can trim and prune them to the shape and size that you desire.
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You now have everything you need to know about how to grow this extraordinary plant from cuttings. Remember to provide it with all the care and attention that it needs to get a healthy plant with lush green leaves. Did it help you to know how to grow Podocarpus from cuttings? Happy planting!
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