Fern Pine

6 Mar

Fern Pine (Podocarpus gracilior), evergreen tree 12-25 ft., easily kept as a 6 foot hedge, grown for soft gray or blue-green foliage, sun or shade, tolerates deep shade, best with regular water until established, great screen plant along property line.

From eastern Africa. Grows 20 to 60 ft. tall, 10 to 20 ft. wide. Among the cleanest, most pest-free trees for street, lawn, patio, garden; good as big shrubs, as hedges, in containers.

Method of propagation determines growth habit. If grown from seed, plants are upright even when young (and stay that way); these plants are usually sold as Podocarpus gracilior. In youth, they have branches set somewhat sparsely with glossy dark green leaves 2 to 4 in. long, 1/2 in. wide. With age, they produce 1- to 2-in., soft grayish green to bluish green leaves that are more closely spaced on branches. Stake seedling plants until a strong trunk develops. If grown from cuttings or grafts of a mature tree, plants have the smaller, more closely set leaves just described, but they have very limber branches and are often reluctant to make strong vertical growth. These more willowy plants, suitable for espalier, hanging pots, or growing as vines along fences, are often sold as Podocarpus elongatus. Given staking and tying, Podocarpus elongatus types eventually become upright trees, though their foliage mass persists in drooping for some time.

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