Typically grown as a shrub or planted en masse to provide hedging, Podocarups macrophyllus is actually a tree than can grow to 35 feet in height. You may hear the tree referred to as a Japanese yew, or simply podocarpus. Like most evergreen trees and shrubs, a shot of fertilizer several times a year will keep the podocarpus green and healthy. It is hardy to U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 8 through 11.
Although any fertilizer listed as suitable for trees and shrubs will work, environmental horticulturists with the University of Florida Cooperative Extension Service suggest using a 6-6-6 NPK fertilizer for podocarpus. The amount to use depends on the diameter of the tree's trunk and, thus, the age of the tree. Give podocarpus with trunks less than 6 inches in diameter 2 to 3 pounds of fertilizer per inch of diameter annually, and those with trunks larger than 6 inches in diameter 5 pounds per inch. Two cups of fertilizer equals 1 pound.
Wait until spring to apply the first dose of fertilizer; just before the podocarpus produces new growth is the best time. Use half the amount of fertilizer suggested for the tree's trunk diameter. Apply the other half in June. If you prefer to fertilize three times per year, split the annual amount of fertilizer into thirds, and apply it just before the plant produces new growth and again in June and September. do not fertilize the podocarpus when temperatures exceed 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
Use a handheld fertilizer spreader to ensure even coverage. Too much fertilizer in one spot may burn the tree's roots. Start spreading the fertilizer 6 inches away from the trunk and spread it out to 1 foot beyond the tree's drip line. Water the tree slowly, to a depth of 24 inches, after fertilizing. This not only helps dissolve the fertilizer into the soil, it also helps insulate the roots from direct contact with the substance.
As the podocarpus ages, it may require less fertilizer. Experts with the University of Minnesota suggest not fertilizing mature evergreen trees at all unless they shows signs of deficiency, such as yellowing needles. Because overuse of fertilizers may be partly responsible for pollution of lakes and groundwater, check whether the tree requires fertilizer by performing a soil test annually.