Have you ever heard of the podocarps? Probably not by that name. Its scientific designation is Podocarpaceae
In China, it’s known as LuoHan pine. it’s a fun twist! Even though it’s called a pine in its Chinese name, it’s not technically a pine tree. Imagine going through life with a name that makes everyone think you’re something you’re not. Identity crisis much?
But the real reason behind its name is even cooler! LuoHan in Chinese means Buddist arhat. When its fruit matures, it looks just like a tiny monk in his robe – no kidding! So, this tree’s naming credit goes to these adorable little monk fruits.
Now, if you wander through the courtyards of wealthy homes in southern China, you’ll often find this tree proudly displayed. Why? Because there’s a saying: If you’ve got a podocarps home, you’ll never face poverty.
Fancy, right? Who wouldn’t want a money magnet tree? I mean, if only planting a tree in my backyard could ensure lifelong riches, I’d have a forest by now.
But that’s not all. The podocarps is an evergreen that stands tall and graceful all year round. It’s like that elegant friend who always looks good in photos, no matter what. And, for the plant nerds among us, there are several variations of this tree, each distinguished by leaf size and color. Some even sprout golden or red buds that look like blooming chrysanthemums!
Crafting Your Podocarps (LuoHan Pine) Bonsai
Start your bonsai journey by digging up a wild one or by growing it from seeds or cuttings. If you dig one up, opt for the short and old-looking ones. They have character. After getting it home, pamper it for about a year or two before styling it.
Alternatively, if you’re starting from cuttings, spring (around March) or summer (June-July) is your go-time!
They’re not picky about the soil, but a slightly acidic sandy loam works wonders. Top tip? Layer the pot with coarse sand at the bottom for great drainage. You can also throw in some peat soil for good measure.
Before the tree starts budding in spring, get it into a pot. The type of pot? Anything that complements its form. Clay or ceramic pots are an elegant choice.
Caring for Podocarps Bonsai
Think of them as beach-lovers – they love warmth and humidity. Keep them outside as much as possible. However, when it gets cold, tuck them inside, but not somewhere too hot. A comfy range for them is 15-28°C (59-82°F).
They like their soil like a good cake – moist but not soggy. And remember, during the growing season, it’s better to let the soil dry out a bit rather than overwater.
They’re foodies, loving a good feed now and then. Once a month, treat them to a mild liquid fertilizer, and in autumn, ease off the feeding. A little nitrogen boost in spring and autumn is all they need.
You’d mainly use wiring to shape it because the branches are pretty flexible. It’s kind of like bending a rubber hose, easy-peasy. Pruning? That’s secondary. All best done during its dormant period. And when it blooms? Nip those buds to keep it from wasting its energy.
Every couple of years, give it a new home, usually in the early spring.
They’re quite hardy, but watch out for red spiders during the hot, dry months.
So, the next time you’re thinking of adding a bonsai to your collection or gifting one, remember the podocarps (LuoHan Pine) – a tree with monk-like fruits and the promise of riches. What’s not to love? 🌲💰