Podocarpus not Filling in? What is it & How to Fix it?

podocarpus not filling in

The Podocarpus plant doesn’t need regular watering, which makes it pretty easy to maintain. In fact, it can grow faster if you choose the correct technique and spot for it.

So, if you feel like your plant isn’t growing properly, you might be doing something wrong.

In this article, you will learn the reason for the Podocarpus not filling in, the techniques to fix it, and how to make it grow thicker.

What is Podocarpus?

Podocarpus is a shrub-like tree that is generally grown in warm climates. Once fully established, it is a drought-tolerant plant. Podocarpus is also referred to as Buddhist pine, Japanese yew, and yew plum pine.

podocarpus not filling in

It is a relatively slow-growing plant. It can reach heights of 30 to 40 feet. By trimming and cutting, you can reduce its height to a manageable level. Since the Podocarpus plant is pretty easy to shape by pruning and trimming, it serves additional purposes.

For instance, many people use evergreen Podocarpus shrubs to create a box or topiary hedges. Podocarpus macrophyllus is also used as a windbreaker, privacy screen, or just a mandatory barrier.

Why isn’t Podocarpus Filling in?

Growing a Podocarpus plant isn’t much of a hassle since it can survive in different landscapes and conditions. However, if you observe your plant not filling in after putting in a lot of work, there could be a few reasons: insufficient sunlight or overly-wet soil.

1. Insufficient Sunlight

Podocarpus is a plant that truly thrives in full sun. So, if you see your Podocarpus isn’t filling in, it can be because it isn’t receiving at least six hours of sunshine a day.

That said, it doesn’t mean it can’t grow in the shade, in cold areas, or indoors. However, the progress gets relatively slower. You can grow Podocarpus as indoor container plants if you live in a colder region.

2. Overly-wet Soil

Too much watering could be another reason for Podocarpus not filling in. Although moist is good, it doesn’t require soggy soil for its growth.

In fact, fully wet ground or alkaline can negatively impact Podocarpus’s growth and cause nutrient deficiencies. All it needs is acidic and well-drained soil to grow at a healthy pace. Therefore, consider your water usage again to determine if that is the error you are making.

How to Make Podocarpus Grow Thicker?

Many factors contribute to the rich and healthy development of the Podocarpus plant. These include choosing the right area and using the correct techniques of watering, pruning, and fertilizing.

In this section, I will share a few tips related to these techniques to help you develop a thicker Podocarpus plant.

1. Watering Podocarpus Plant

As I mentioned earlier, Podocarpus shrubs do not require constant watering. They do need a fair share of water when they are young. However, there is no need to water them every day once they are fully grown due to their drought-resistant nature.

That said, these are the watering techniques you need to keep in mind during the different development stages of the Podocarpus plant.

When Podocarpus is Newly Planted: When the Podocarpus is newly planted, it requires regular watering. As soon as you plant Podocarpus, soak the soil around the root ball to a depth equal to its height.

At this time, you can also use a high-quality root stimulator to help boost growth. It also enhances the pH level close to the roots.

Fertilome Concentrate Root Stimulator that you can purchase here is probably the best root stimulator you can use.

When the Plant Starts Blooming: The moisture level of soil plays a huge role in the development of the yew pine. It is fine for the soil to be damp. However, it shouldn’t be drenched in water as it can damage growth by causing plant diseases.

Once you see the plant is blooming, you can start watering them whenever you see dry leaves or soil. If you use an automated water system (irrigation system), make sure that you are using a timer to avoid over-watering them.

Plus, it is always better to water Podocarpus shrub early morning as it has the entire day to dry off. Watering them at night can lead to fungal development.

Check the moisture level of the sand once you have finished watering to ensure it did not get wet. If you observe it has got overly wet, adjust the water usage accordingly for the next time.

When the Plant is Fully Developed: When you see that the Podocarpus shrub has fully come into shape, the demand for irrigation declines dramatically. You should only water them if the soil and leaves appear completely dried off.

At this point, you have to take care of the dampness of the root ball and planting area. Remember that letting the soil fully dry out before watering again is the key to the healthy growth of the Podocarpus plant.

Important Note: All of the above-mentioned techniques are valid for the outdoor Podocarpus trees/shrubs. If you have grown Podocarpus in containers, it is important to know that they need regular watering, especially in summer.

So, according to routine soil moisture checks, water should be applied when the top two inches of soil are dry.

2. Pruning Podocarpus Plant

Podocarpus doesn’t need constant pruning or cutting. However, it can be readily trimmed to maintain a neat shape.

No matter the season, you can trim yew pines. However, it is better to cut them in spring. Cutting is not helpful in fall because the new growth can be harmed by the impending cold weather.

If you don’t have a good pruner, you should consider between ARS, and Felco pruners. You can read the comparison here.

3. Fertilizing Podocarpus Plant

You can feed almost any type of fertilizer to the Podocarpus hedge. Although Podocarpus is not a big feeder, natural slow-release fertilizers can be the most effective.

These fertilizers contain all the nutrients your plant needs for stable growth. Just like the name suggests, this type of fertilizer gradually releases nutrients, which don’t cause any harm to roots and soil.

They add beneficial bacteria to the ground, which protects shrubs from pests and other plant diseases.

For a great foliage color and greening, you can get the one with sulfur and iron. One such fertilizer is Monterey Dr Iron (buy it here on Amazon). Made up of 55% of sulfur and 22% of iron, this product manages soil pH, corrects iron deficiency, and enhances coloring of leaves.

How Long Do You Have to Wait to See The Results

Podocarpus is generally a slow-growing plant that can barely grow 5-inches in a year. However, the growth can be accelerated if it is located in an area that gets proper sunlight for at least six-seven hours a day.

Besides sunlight, if you are using the correct watering technique and not overdoing anything, it is possible to see progress in yearly growth and height.

How Big Will Your Podocarpus Be?

Podocarpus trees have a height range of 30 to 40 inches. It produces a 2′ annual growth rate. After you have done everything right to take care of it and boost its growth, it might take 2-3 years to double in size. The Podocarpus tree can even grow up to 60 inches tall as it ages.

Final Verdict

The Podocarpus plant flourishes in hot climates. It grows taller and faster when it gets frequent sunlight. It is a plant that has pretty low maintenance demands and won’t require much effort.

All you have to do is ensure that it is planted at a perfect spot, gets proper sunshine, and has well-drained soil. However, you must be patient during this journey as no results appear immediately. Happy gardening!


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