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 Transplants Questions

Transplanting Magnolia grandiflora
June 11, 2007 - We just moved to Plano TX and there's a magnolia tree planted between our house and the driveway. (The tree is 7ft tall and it's about 7ft from the side of house and 4ft from the driveway) I alway...
view the full question and answer

Century plants spread through offshots from Rye TX
September 20, 2010 - How do century plants spread? Are the little ones the babies?
view the full question and answer

Propagation on bamboo in Washington State
August 30, 2008 - I have been trying for some time to grow bamboo in my garden. They rooted very well in the house but as soon as I put them in a large planter under the fir trees they turned yellow.They have a large h...
view the full question and answer

Pecan tree transplant in Elgin, TX
August 26, 2008 - Hello, Mr. Smarty Plants, I have a question about how to encourage a very young pecan sapling to grow, and whether I should use mulch to do so. I live in Elgin (Bastrop County) and the soil is extr...
view the full question and answer

Transplanting native, protected Ostrich fern in New York
September 05, 2006 - Please give advice about how to transplant Matteuccia struthiopteris. What is the best time of year to do this?
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