Red Tip mountain plum pine

A dwarf conifer for shady areas
RELATED TOPICS: ZONE 9 | DWARF CONIFER | ZONE 8 | ZONE 7
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Jim Rowson
Dwarf conifer

Common name
: Red Tip mountain plum pine

Latin name:
Podocarpus lawrencei ‘Red Tip’

USDA Hardiness Zones:
7-9

Cultural needs:
moist, well drained, neutral or slightly acidic soil, sun to full shade

Plant size: 20” high x 28” wide in ten years
Would you like the conifer-tree look, but you’re stuck with shade under trees or on the north side of your house? Here’s a tidy, dark green, tiny-leaved plant with dense growth. The American Conifer Society (conifersociety.org) has determined that Red Tip mountain plum pine is a true dwarf, growing between 1-6” per year. Not a true pine (Pinus sp.), this mountain plum pine is a cultivar selected from Tasmania, Australia, presumably from mountainsides. Even though it requires winter temperatures higher than 0 °F, one can grow it as an annual – or, noting the low sun requirement, just pot it up to live indoors by a window during winter months. The “plum” part of Red Tip’s name refers to the burgundy red winter color of leaf tips, similar to fall foliage color in which the chlorophyll has waned and then masked by anthocyanin, a red flavonoid pigment. Unlike purple carrots or cabbage, this plant is poisonous if eaten, so if you’re planting it near kids or curious cats, please keep it out of reach. The pictured plant growing in Jim Rowson’s Zone 9 Durango & Jasper railway shows an untrained plant, which may require minimal pruning in years to come.

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