Answer: Podocarpus gracilior has very limber branches in youth and needs staking to coax it into becoming an upright tree. You can allow all of the branches emerging from the roots to grow to produce a screening hedge, or you can cut away all but the strongest stem and train it into a trunk. You can support the remaining stem so it grows upright by placing three stakes an equal distance from the trunk and tying flexible material around the trunk and to each of the stakes. Attach several ties along the length of the trunk if necessary to keep it straight and then remove any low branches so it resembles a tree. As the trunk grows, you can continue to remove lower branches until it reaches the desired clearance from the ground. Rub out any buds that develop on the trunk before they sprout and become branches and you won't have to make any pruning cuts (which may take time to heal). Aside from checking to make sure the ties are not cutting into the trunk, and regularly rubbing out any buds that form along the trunk, there's not much else involved in training your Podocarpus into a tree form.
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