Japanese Yew

Family: Podocarpaceae
Common Name: Japanese Yew, Plum Yew, Buddhist pine
Botanical Name: Podocarpus marcopyllus

The Japanese Yew is known for creating mighty outdoor hedges and being large, stately trees in warmer climates, but did you know that they are excellent indoor plants if you have a brightly lit spot inside your home! Podpcarpus macropyllus has emerged into the houseplant world as sculptural specimen trees that can be pruned to your liking. Get creative! They make a striking contrast to indoor plants with large, flat leaves like ficus or strelitzia. These conifers need at least 6 hours of very bright indirect light to grow and stay healthy, and without it, they will start to drop their needles and thin out. Japanese Yews do very well place next to south and west-facing windows.

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Japanese Yews love to bask in the light, and if you provide them with at least 6 hours daily, then expect big things from them! They are fast growers when given access to an abundance of sunlight. If you do not have an endless supply of sunshine, you can still grow these evergreens indoors, but they will tend to be thinner and grow slower in areas with under 6 hours of light per day.



When podocarpus grows outside, they are relatively drought-tolerant, but they need water regularly when grown indoors and living in pots! Give them a good soaking with room temperature water when the soil is dry to the touch 2-3” under the surface of the soil line. You will need to water your Japanese Yews more often when the temperatures are 70°F and above. Water them less frequently during the winter months as they will use less moisture when the temperatures are below 60°F.


You may need to transplant your podocarpus every year or so, depending on how fast it grows. We recommend using a soil mixture that is rich in organic matter, has good drainage, and is light and loose. Most bagged potting soil will be fine for your Japanese Yew but avoid potting mixes that contain moisture retaining crystals, as they can keep the soil wet for long periods which can cause root damage.


The ideal temperatures for Japanese Yews range between 65-75°F. They can cope with lower temperatures but should never be exposed to anything lower than 40°F. Keep this in mind if you bring your podocarpus out for the summer! Hot, stagnant air can be a problem with this conifer. Fire up a fan to help circulate the air during sweltering heatwaves to help prevent pests and fungal problems.


Most average household humidity levels will be adequate for Japanese Yews, but if you live in an arid climate and your humidity level is below 20%, consider running a cool-mist humidifier. Keep humidifiers off the floor and on a waterproof tray, as some humidifiers can leave a puddle of water around the unit. Avoid blowing the mist directly on the leaves as this can cause fungal problems.


Podocarpus macropyllus will benefit from fertilizing every few weeks during the growing season with a ¼ diluted complete liquid fertilizer or fish emulsion. You can also top-dress the plant at the start of the growing season with rich compost. If you notice yellow needles a few days to a week after feeding them, you should dilute the fertilizer even more or fertilize less frequently.

Growth Rate

Japanese Yews are fast growers when given the right environment and care. They will grow as tall as you will allow 12’+, but you can easily control the height by pruning and shaping them any time of the year.

Pet Friend or Foe

These plants are toxic to pets! Foe

Pro Tips

  1. Rotate your Japanese Yew to give all sides equal access to the light.
  2. Try creating a Japanese Bonsai Yew by pruning and shaping young plants!
  3. If your plant isn’t thriving, try to flush the soil of possible salt and mineral build-up. Place the potted plant under running water for a few minutes as this will help leach out the excess minerals and salts!
  4. Trim leggy stems to encourage new growth! Pruning will help keep your yew looking lush and full!
  5. If propagating is your thing, take cuttings from the hardwood, dust with a rooting hormone and keep the soil moist and warm. You can expect (fingers crossed) to see roots within 3-4 weeks!

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