The lush, evergreen foliage of podocarpus plants provides a suitable informal hedge for privacy screening or an attractive border plant. The shrub reaches up to 50 feet tall if left unpruned but is usually maintained at a height of 15 feet or less in home landscapes. Podocarpus grows in mild subtropical climates from U.S. Department of Agriculture hardiness zone 8 through 11 as it doesn't tolerate heavy frost. It provides greenery and interest to the lawn with regular pruning and minimal care.
Lay mulch over the soil under the canopy of the podocarpus branches. Supply a 2- to 3-inch layer of bark nuggets or similar mulch but don't lay the mulch directly against the trunk. Replenish the mulch layer each spring. Mulch keeps moisture in the soil so it doesn't dry out too quickly.
Water podocarpus year-round. Provide 1 to 2 inches of water weekly or as necessary so the soil remains moist but not wet. The soil requires irrigation if the top 1 to 3 inches have begun to dry.
Fertilize podocarpus annually in spring with a fertilizer formulated for evergreen shrubs. Apply the fertilizer, using the method recommended on the package for the size of your podocarpus.
Treat the plant with an iron chelate foliar spray if it develops leaf yellowing. Apply the spray according to label directions. Acid-loving evergreens are susceptible to iron deficiencies that cause leaf yellowing.
Prune the shrub in early spring. Cut out dead or damaged branches at their base with a pruning saw or clippers. Shape the tree lightly to maintain its size but avoid over-pruning. Podocarpus looks best, when allowed to develop a natural shape, as opposed to a neatly trimmed hedge.