Buddhist Pine - A Tropical Bonsai For 2021?

Yesterday, I posted my bonsai dreaming for the year and mentioned that one of the items on my 2021 bonsai mini-list was to try a tropical bonsai like a ficus or umbrella.  It was #8 on that list, but I'll start with it here on the blog.  For beginner bonsai hobbyists, a couple of other very common tropical to try is Dwarf or Mini Jade and Chinese Elm.  Those are interesting, but I think I came across something else that might be more my speed.

I was poking around on some bonsai nurseries sites and came across a tropical called a dwarf podocarpus.  Here's the listing (below) on Brussel's Bonsai:

Source via Brussel's Bonsai product listing.

The common name for this is Buddhist Pine - Podocarpus macrophyllus - and is talked about in various bonsai places on the Web.   This list from Bonsai Outlet talks the benefits of giving this particular cultivar a shot.  That includes:

Tolerates temperature variances.  Hard to train.  Produces cones and fruit.  And is hard to kill.

Three of those things are what I would normally consider advantageous.  But the "hard to train" part?  Seems like a con, not a pro.  But, it turns out that the 'hard to train' characteristic means that there is "far less temptation to meddle".  They say: "It's a Bonsai you work with, rather than trying to dominate or force a look onto."  I like that - especially as I'm starting. 

The Buddhist Pine is a tropical (at least for us here in Zone 5b) and Bonsai Empire describes it thusly:
As it is a tropical plant, the podocarpus is not frost-hardy and needs a warm place all year round and therefore it is a popular indoor bonsai.
They further describe the care for this bonsai - and mention that it shouldn't be kept around 68 degrees during Winter - which means inside for us.

It is a type of Yew - which I like - and blooms in Spring.  I have a Hicks Upright Yew hedge (in formation) in the back and some of those threw off some fruits this season.

There's a lot to like about this Buddhist Pine for me - it is more pine-like than say a Jade or Ficus.  It is a little bit more unique.  But, at the same time, it offers what I think is a form that I'm drawn to - one that I can see conifers taking to in the most traditional sense.  

The good news for me is that I can't make an impulse buy.  With the cold weather AND the deep freeze hitting most of the country, all of the online bonsai nurseries are closed or won't ship out tropicals right now.  So, we'll have to wait until closer to April to make the order.


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