Podocarpus nivalis

alpine totara

  • © Richie Steffen / Great Plant Picks

Outstanding Qualities

Alpine totara is an extraordinarily adaptable evergreen shrub. Brought into cultivation from the high elevations of New Zealand, this under-used conifer is a great addition to our region. Its dark green needles have a slight bluish cast and hold well on a dense and bushy plant. It thrives in the full range of hot full sun to full shade. Plant it at the top of rockeries so the branches can tumble down in a graceful manner. Its small stature makes it perfect for small city gardens. Alpine totara responds well to pruning and can be maintained easily as a low hedge, either in an informal or formal manner. Its horizontal growth habit makes it a good weaver in the garden, growing around taller plants and filling empty spaces. Once established it tolerates considerable drought and can go though a typical summer without additional water. Occasionally it produces a few bright red fruit, but fruiting is very sporadic and generally not heavy enough to make an ornamental impact.

Quick Facts

Plant Type: conifer

Foliage Type: evergreen

Plant Height: 3 ft. 0 in. (0.91 meters)

Plant Width/Spread: 6 ft. 0 in. (1.83 meters)

Plant Height-Mature: 0 ft. 0 in. (0.00 meters)

Plant Width-Mature: 0 ft. 0 in. (0.00 meters)

Hardiness: USDA Zones 7 to 10

Flower Color: none

Sun/Light Exposure: full sun or light to dappled shade

Water Requirements: drought tolerant when established

Colors & Combos

Great Color Contrasts: gold, burgundy, variegated

Great Color Partners: silver, dark green, blue

Culture Notes
Plant this useful evergreen in full sun to dappled shade. It prefers a well-drained or sandy soil. Once it is established it is drought tolerant. It will respond well to pruning and can be sheared to make a tight low hedge.