This upright, dense evergreen has pointed, leathery, dark green leaves arranged on stiff, symmetrical branches and work very well as a screen, hedge, strong accent plant or a framing tree. The crown forms a pyramidal to oval outline. Able to reach 90 feet in height, Nagi Podocarpus is usually seen at 30-40 feet in height due to the moderately slow growth rate. Compact branching habit and very dark green foliage make this a dense tree, in full sun more open but surprisingly dense in the shade.
Old Podocarpus bonsai are impressive with their stately elegance. Although trunk and bark formation always takes quite a few years, their growth varies with climate – slow-growing indoors and towards the cooler end of their range, fast-growing in sunny areas. Their evergreen leaves are similar in formation and shape to yews, although Podocarpus leaves are larger – just under two inches to a maximum of four inches.
LIGHTING – Likes direct sunlight. Too little light will result in large, elongated leaves. Podocarpus can survive, however, on as little as 800 lumens. In some very sun-intense areas, they may suffer leaf burn if they are not given shade during the hottest part of the day.
TEMPERATURE – Zones 9 – 11. For best results, keep above 55 degrees. Podocarpus can be grown successfully indoors in a well-lit spot. Prefers temps between 61-68 degrees.
WATERING – Likes slightly moist soil but be sure to provide adequate drainage. Gray needles are a sign of overwatering. Daily misting is appreciated by indoor plants.
FEEDING – Peters 20-20-20, fish emulsion, and fertilizer cakes are recommended. For indoor growers who don’t like the fishy smell, liquid bonsai fertilizer can be used, applied every two weeks in warm weather and every six in winter. Podocarpus likes slightly acidic soil so a dose of Miracid several times a year is helpful. These plants need additional iron and magnesium; iron is partially supplied by the Miracid. In addition, apply a dose of chelated iron twice yearly. To prevent magnesium deficiency, use 2-3 applications of Epsom Salts ( 1 tbs per gallon of water) a year.
PRUNING & WIRING: Young Podocarpus plants have a tendency to grow straight up with no side branching. This is easily remedied by cutting them back hard which will result in aggressive back budding. Pinch back new growth as necessary and remove oversized needles. If half of the bud is pinched away, back budding is stimulated and leaf reduction will occur. Cutting the leaves will only in brown edges. Smaller replacement leaves will not necessarily form. Wire lignified wood for 2-3 months being careful to watch for any signs that the wire is beginning to cut into the bark. Green wood may be wired loosely. Old Podocarpus wood becomes very rigid and is difficult to bend. They are suitable for all sizes and styles except broom. Driftwood can be successfully incorporated into the design.
PROPAGATION – Podocarpus roots easily from cuttings. The best method seems to be simply to place softwood (preferably new growth) cuttings in water until roots form, then transplanting them into bonsai soil. Hardwood cuttings require the use of rooting hormone and bottom heat. Podocarpus can be grown from seed but seeds can be hard to obtain.
REPOTTING – Every 3-4 years in spring. Roots should only be pruned by 10-15%.
PESTS & DISEASES – Scale, mealy bugs, and sooty mold. Root rot can occur in soils with poor drainage.