En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?


Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Sunday - May 22, 2011

From: Cupertino, CA
Region: California
Topic: Non-Natives, Transplants
Title: Yellowing leaves on non-native podocarpus Cupertino CA
Answered by: Barbara Medford


I recently planted a podacarpus granular and over half the leaves are turning yellow some are dead. What could be the problem? Is there something I can feed it? What should I do? I planted four & the other three are thriving! Help what should I do?


Every time Mr. Smarty Plants thinks he has heard of every plant known, another one pops up. Finding Podocarpus granular, however, turned out to be a different matter. We found information on a Podocarpus neriifolius, Brown pine, which had this sentence in it:

"Subrhytidome (under-bark) dark red or black (rarely with lighter pinkish stripes); less than 25 mm thick, 4.0-10.0; bark blaze consisting of one layer; strongly aromatic; pleasant; outer blaze red or brown, markings absent, fibrous or granular without splinters. (emphasis ours)."

That tree is apparently native to Papua New Guinea.

Another member of this genus is called Podocarpus gracilior, Fern Pine. Could that be the one you have? Here is a description from University of Virginia. This species apparently originated in East Africa and Madagascar.

Still another species on which we found information is this one from Floridata Podocarpus macrophylla,  Japanese yew. it was described as being native to Japan and southern China. The only information we found on its care was:

"This durable and beautiful plant is virtually pest and disease free."

Since the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is dedicated to the growth, protection and propagation of plants native not only to North America but to the areas in which they are being grown, we have no information on this plant in our Native Plant Database, nor did we find any reference to yellowing leaves on the plant. We suggest you read all of our references to see if you can pick up on something we missed.

One final problem which applies to native as well as non-native plants is that of transplant shock. You say you planted four and the other three are all right. Sometimes root damage or improper placement of a plant can cause it to go into shock. Sometimes a plant is already damaged or rootbound in the pot when it is purchased, all possibilities you should explore. Do not fertilize. Any plant under stress should never be fertilized, as it will only encourage growth on a plant struggling to survive.


More Non-Natives Questions

Dog-proof grass from The Woodlands TX
April 26, 2013 - I am looking for a hardy grass that can tolerate female dogs urine. Zoysia was suggested but I am concerned about it being invasive. Any suggestions?
view the full question and answer

Survival of non-native rosemary on sea breeze from Alberta Canada
July 28, 2011 - I read that Rosemary, in some locations, can live on nothing other than the humidity carried by the sea breeze. Is this true?
view the full question and answer

Probably non-native crapemyrtle trees damaged by hurricane
January 15, 2009 - I have 5 crape myrtle trees. I live in Galveston, Tx and when Hurricane Ike came through in September the salt water I think killed them. They have not come back since then and are brown with no leave...
view the full question and answer

Decline in non-native crape myrtles
June 15, 2007 - I live in Round Rock and the ground is rocky about one foot beneath the surface. I have about 14 crape myrtles that have been doing very well for about 6 years now. Last year the leaves on 1 started...
view the full question and answer

What causes peach fruit to ooze sap?
July 27, 2009 - I have a peach tree at our new house. The peaches are small and yellow but appeared healthy. Now it looks like they are oozing or weeping sap out of several places on each one. I dont know if its a di...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center