Podocarpus plants are slow-growing evergreens, generally producing yellow flowers and purple fruits. The plants are tolerant of low light, shade, salt and drought. They grow in a wide range of soils, are resistant to breakage and show resistance to pest damage and disease. Several species of Podocarpus are available to suit many purposes. Some Podocarpus plants serve as privacy screening hedges and can reach heights of 40 to 50 feet with a spread of 20 to 25 feet. The plants can be grown in shrub form or trimmed to grow as trees. The plants also perform well indoors. The green wood of Podocarpus plants responds well to wiring and shaping, making them good for use as bonsai trees or as topiary plants.
Prune Podocarpus at any time of year if it is growing indoors or outdoors in a temperate climate. Prune young plants back aggressively. Because the plants tend to grow upright and with few side branches, you need to trigger back budding to help some types of Podocarpus fill out. Pinch back any new growth that does not fit the shape and form you desire. While doing so, remove any oversized needles.
Pinch away half of the new shoots in spring, before the needles elongate or expand, to control terminal growth. This serves several purposes, including slowing growth on the branch, reducing leaves, creating a more compact plant and encouraging new bud formation.
Prune the roots of Podocarpus when repotting. Prune no more than 10 to 15 percent of the roots from the plant. Repot your plants every three to four years in the spring.
Cut soft wood from new new growth for propagating Podocarpus plants. Place the cuttings in water to allow roots to form. Plant the rooted cuttings in soil.