Podocarpus macrophyllus maki /will these be massive?

elschSeptember 14, 2010

Hi there everyone. I have two Podocarpus macrophyllus maki , 5 ft. tall in 15 gallon containers. I have read conflicting info on the growth rate and height and width, so I am not sure how to space them. Will these grow into monsters trees as some podocarpus do, or are they easy to keep mannerly? I prefer them to be about 10 - 15 ft. tall when they reach that height. What spacing should I plant them at for a screen ? All info is appreciated. Thanks!

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In Tennessee and in Hawaii which are the two
places which I have lived Podocarpus macrophyllus tends to
be on the smaller and slower growing side. In Hawaii it
is often used for the same purpose that you are talking

    Bookmark   September 15, 2010 at 1:42PM
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I agree with Manzi, it's a slow grower and very easy to be kept small. They'll take many years to get to 15ft tall, this might be the tallest they'll grow... For screening, they're planted about 2ft apart where I live, but that's when they're pruned to stay at 5 or 6ft tall. I've once seen mature specimens planted about 3ft apart and maybe 15ft tall.
Btw, they naturalized in my garden and every season I found new seedlings (some birds love the edible fruits and spread the seeds around).

    Bookmark   September 15, 2010 at 11:08PM
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I have had one in pot since 1980. It grows quickly, but narrow.Every two years I cut em down to 2,50m and make cuttings. They easily roots. No problem to cut the top or other tips.


    Bookmark   September 16, 2010 at 3:14PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Podocarpus chinensis (P. macrophyllus var. maki) is consistently shrubby with shorter, narrower leaves than P. macrophyllus. P. macrophyllus has been seen over 80' tall in the wild, half that high in California. But

"For all practical purposes it is a mere shrub that slowly reaches 20' x 2'* at most"

--A.L. Jacobson, TREES OF SEATTLE - SECOND EDITION (2006, Seattle)

*Trunk circumference

    Bookmark   September 16, 2010 at 10:48PM
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Thanks everyone, very helpful info!

    Bookmark   September 17, 2010 at 1:05AM
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Fast foward, it is more than 3 years later, I am about ready to give up on these.

I have had these planted in several locations and they are such incredibly slow growers, I am thinking of removing them, as their purpose was to be a narrow screen extending the fence line, seems like it will take years more for them to fill in.

Perhaps they do not do well in California? They seem perfectly healthy, they just grow so sluggishly, growth is barely noticeable.

Can anyone convince me otherwise? Thanks!

    Bookmark   February 26, 2014 at 12:00AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

any chance at a picture

if they dont please you... what more do you want... permission to get rid of something you dont like... if so.. go for it.. lifes too short ...

unlike family... plants are not forever ... lol.. you cant get ridge of old uncle waldo ... but you can surely get rid of uncle podo ....


    Bookmark   February 26, 2014 at 7:39AM
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Actually Ken, I love them, that's why I used them in multiple locations and waited this long... except, full disclosure, the others got the shovel last year, I just have 2 left.

They all have failed their screening duties thus far.

The magic answer I am looking for is, first 3 years sleeps, 4th year leaps. That age old dilemma, If I pull them out, would this have been the year they start growing?

I suspect they like a hotter humid climate and perfect soil and drainage, whereas mine is average clay soil, with decent drainage, that I mulch with compost to improve. It is puzzling ,as they are highly recommended by some western sources.

I tried for a picture, but it is raining, which alone is reason to celebrate.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2014 at 3:38PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

You might want to look at the Sunset Western Garden Book or the Sunset Publishing web site to see if this plant is zoned for your particular part of California, a state with numerous different distinct climates.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2014 at 12:51PM
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davidrt28 (zone 7)

Unlike bboy I don't think the zone is the issue, per se. At least w/regard to slow growth. I think anywhere in the western US, the issue is: are they getting enough water? Most of the common ones in the US (like Maki) come from parts of China that get 6-12 inches of rain PER MONTH in the summer. Thus by California standards, they are water hogs; although they can probably survive on less, they may not grow as fast.

Looks like at least one progressive California wholesaler now eschews the Chinese ones, either because they are too common or too thirsty, or both.

OTOH almost no conifer is going to behave like say, Oleander, and go zooming into growth the year it is planted. They like to get themselves settled. So maybe you are being a bit impatient. I have a Larix from China that only grew 4-6" a year for 3 years until least summer - conincidentally one with twice our normal summer rainfall - when it threw out a shoot that was about 28" long.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2014 at 10:02AM
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