Office Plants Tips & Ideas

Plant of the Month – Buddhist Pine (Podocarpus macrophyllus)

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The Buddhist Pine (Podocarpus) is an elegant and graceful plant with grass-like foliage. It is native to southern Japan and southern and eastern China – alternative common names, Southern yew and Kusamaki, reference these two regions. This plant is a slow growing conifer that can reach up to 60’ in its natural habitat, but remains smaller when forced to grow in a container. Typically in a home or office setting you will see a columnar shaped Podocarpus that is 4-6’ feet tall.

The Buddhist Pine grows best in bright, filtered light and evenly moist soil. If the soil is allowed to dry out too much, you will find the plant begin to shed its leaves and leave you with quite a mess to clean up! Another common reason a Buddhist Pine begins to shed its leaves is because of pests. While susceptible to scale insects and spider mites, proper regular maintenance and strategic placement will control and minimize the risk of getting any kind of pest. One of the most common reasons a Podocarpus will get pests is because it is kept too dry, or is in a location that is too hot. An interesting and unique characteristic of the Buddhist Pine (aside from its appearance) is that it actually likes cooler temperatures. Most interior tropical plants ideal environment is 20 degrees Celsius, with temperatures that drop no lower than 16 degrees Celsius… whereas the Podocarpus can tolerate a temperature drop to as low as 4 degrees Celsius!

While this characteristic makes them an excellent plant selection for a drafty doorway, Buddhist Pines are still only occasionally used as tropical office plants. Their intolerance of dry environments makes them a bit more difficult to care for in a commercial environment. Having said that, in the right location they are an amazing plant to add visual interest and elegance to a space.

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