Podocarpus is a genus of coniferous trees that are popular in landscaping. These trees are known for their evergreen leaves and beautiful branches. However, one common problem with podocarpus is that they can turn yellow easily. In this blog post, we will explore the reasons why podocarpus turns yellow and offer solutions to help you keep your tree looking green and healthy!
Why Is My Podocarpus Turning Yellow?
Yellow leaves on a podocarpus can be caused by overwatering, fungal diseases, nutrient deficiencies, insufficient sunshine, and environmental stress. The exact type of yellowing will depend on the underlying cause.
I will now go through each of these reasons in more detail so that you can determine what is causing the yellowing of your podocarpus leaves.
If your leaves are yellow and droopy, it is likely that you are overwatering your tree. Podocarpus prefer well-drained soil and do not like to stay wet for long periods of time. Overwatering can lead to root rot, which will eventually kill the tree.
The best way to check if you are overwatering your podocarpus is to stick your finger into the soil. If it feels damp, then you do not need to water it. If the soil is dry, then give your tree a deep watering. Make sure that the water can drain freely from the pot and that the roots are not sitting in any water.
If you live in an area with high humidity, then it is especially important to make sure that you are not overwatering your podocarpus. High humidity can lead to fungal diseases, which we will discuss next.
2. Fungal Infections
Fungal infections are another common reason for yellow leaves on podocarpus. These infections are usually caused by overwatering, high humidity, or contamination from other infected plants.
The most common type of fungal infection is called Phytophthora root rot. This infection causes the roots of the tree to rot, which eventually leads to the death of the tree. Phytophthora root rot is especially common in areas with high humidity or poor drainage.
My favorite anti-fungal treatment is neem oil (Amazon link), which is a natural fungicide that is safe to use around humans and pets.
To prevent fungal infections, make sure that you are not overwatering your podocarpus and that the roots are not sitting in water. In addition, make sure you’re not spreading any infection from other plants by sterilizing your tools before using them on your podocarpus.
3. Nutrient Deficiencies
Nutrient deficiencies are another common problem that can cause yellow leaves on podocarpus. The most common nutrient deficiency in these trees is iron, but other nutrients such as nitrogen and magnesium can also be lacking.
Deficiencies are usually caused by poor soil quality or incorrect fertilizer. If you suspect that your tree is deficient in a certain nutrient, you can have your soil tested or give your tree a fertilizer specifically designed for podocarpus.
A 6-6-6 fertilizer is best for podocarpus. This fertilizer has a balanced ratio of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, which is perfect for these trees. Use it 2-3 times each growing season.
Simply apply the fertilizer to the soil around the tree, being careful not to get any on the leaves. Water it in well so that the roots can absorb the nutrients.
4. Lack of Sunlight
Podocarpus trees need at least six hours of sunlight each day to stay healthy. If your tree is not getting enough sun, the leaves will turn yellow and begin to drop off. This happens because the tree is not able to produce enough chlorophyll, which is necessary for photosynthesis.
To fix this problem, simply move your tree to a location that gets more sun. You may need to experiment with different locations until you find one that suits your tree.
You can also need to prune any branches that are blocking sunlight from reaching the leaves. This will ensure that your tree gets the light it needs to stay healthy.
5. Environmental Stressors
There are many different environmental stressors that can cause yellow leaves on podocarpus. These include extreme temperatures, drought, wind damage, and too much sun.
If your tree is experiencing any of these stressors, the leaves will turn yellow as a way to conserve energy. The tree is essentially shutting down non-essential functions in order to survive. The podocarpus leaves may even turn brown if they’re burning from heat stress.
To fix this problem, you need to remove the stressor. If the stressor is extreme temperatures, then move your tree to a cooler location. If the stressor is drought, then water your tree more frequently. And if the stressor is too much sun, then move your tree to a shadier location.
You can also try to shelter your tree from wind damage by erecting a barrier around it. This will protect the tree from the elements and help it to recover.
Should I Cut Yellow Leaves off My Podocarpus?
There is no need to cut yellow leaves off your podocarpus. The tree will eventually shed these leaves on its own. If you decide to prune the leaves, then you should only remove the ones that are significantly yellow or dead.
Pruning will not fix the underlying problem, but it can help to improve the appearance of your tree. In addition, pruning will also help to increase air circulation and allow more sunlight to reach the leaves.
Simply use a sharp pair of shears to cut the yellow leaves off the tree. Be mindful that sterilizing your tools before each use will help to prevent the spread of disease.
Will Yellow Podocarpus Leaves Turn Green Again?
No, it is unlikely for yellow podocarpus leaves to turn green again. Once the leaves have turned yellow, they are typically dead or dying. The tree will eventually shed these leaves and replace them with new growth.
The good news is that fixing the underlying problem will prevent future yellowing. So, if you can identify and correct the issue, then your tree should be back to its normal self in no time.
Podocarpus trees are tough, but they can still experience problems from time to time. If you notice that your tree’s leaves are turning yellow, then don’t panic! There are many possible reasons for this, and most of them can be fixed relatively easily.
I hope this article has helped you to identify the problem with your tree and find a solution. If not, then feel free to leave a comment below and I’ll do my best to help you out.
Tim is an avid gardener from the UK. He was the founder of PlantCarer.com from 2021 to Sep 2023. He sold PlantCarer.com to Aaron. He has since started his own business called Seed To Supper, which provides new gardeners all the materials you need in a box (pots, seeds, compost and instructions) to grow your own delicious and nutritious vegetables and herbs from start to finish – no garden required.