Types of Pittosporums (Including Variegated Pittosporums) With Pictures

Types of Pittosporums

Pittosporum is a group of evergreen shrubs or small multi-stemmed trees that are popular hedge plants. Pittosporum shrubs have leathery green leaves with wavy margins that grow in whorls at branch ends. The dense evergreen foliage creates attractive screens, privacy barriers, hedgerows, or specimen plants. In colder climates, pittosporum bushes are ideal container plants that are easy to grow on a patio, deck, or at the front of house.

One of the beauties of pittosporum is that it’s a low-maintenance shrub and easy to grow in most garden landscapes. For example, a pittosporum hedge will thrive in zones 8 to 10. All the evergreen hedge needs is some light pruning to keep its shape, water during hot weather, and to ensure it grows in well-draining ground.

Apart from its ornamental glossy green leaves, the attractive features of pittosporum hedging plants are their white scented flowers, excellent growth rate, and ability to thrive in full sun or shade.

Pittosporum also goes by the common names Austrian laurel, mock orange, and Japanese pittosporum.

This article is a guide to the many types of pittosporums suitable for garden landscapes. You will also learn how to grow this tough bush as an attractive shrub to protect gardens. But, first, we will look at how to grow pittosporum shrubs as a beautiful ornamental hedge.

Pittosporum Hedge

Pittosporum tenuifolium ‘Silver Sheen’ hedge

Pittosporum tenuifolium ‘Silver Sheen’ hedge

Pittosporum shrubs are ideal as hedging plants because they grow fast, have dense evergreen foliage, and are easy to prune. In addition, Pittosporum hedge plants are very drought-tolerant, withstand salty air, and survive the heat. From all the popular hedge shrubs like Boxwood (Buxus), pittosporum is one of the fastest-growing plants for hedges.

The shrub’s attractive foliage makes pittosporum bushes popular as low-maintenance barriers or screens. Some pittosporum cultivars have variegated leaves with interesting shapes and textures. For example, Pittosporum tenuifolium ‘Golf Ball’ has bright green oval leaves. However, Pittosporum tobira ‘Variegata’ has spoon-shaped dull green leaves with creamy-white margins. Or there is the Pittosporum tenuifolium ‘Tom Thumb’—a dwarf hedging plant with purple leaves.

By planting a pittosporum hedge, you can grow a tall privacy screen in your backyard. Depending on the cultivar, the popular pittosporum shrubs grow between 8 and 13 ft. (2.4 – 4 m) high and up to 8 ft. (2.4 m) wide. However, suppose you want a low-growing hedge with dense evergreen foliage. In that case, a dwarf pittosporum is ideal as a shrub border.

How to grow pittosporum hedge

Pittosporum tobira hedge

Pittosporum tobira hedge

To grow a pittosporum hedge, plant the shrub in any type of well-draining soil. Plant in full sun or shade and only water during summer if the weather is particularly hot and dry. Add slow-release shrub fertilizer in spring to encourage healthy leaf growth.

When planting a pittosporum hedge in your garden landscape, space the plants around 3 ft. (1 m) apart. Pittosporum bushes spread between 6 and 8 ft. (1.8 – 2.4 m) wide. So, planting this way ensures that a dense privacy screen grows.

Trimming pittosporum hedge

Pittosporum tobira hedge

Pittosporum tobira low hedge

Regularly trimming a pittosporum hedge every spring helps maintain its height and promote dense foliage growth. When trimming the hedge, avoid cutting back the pittosporum too much. Instead, in spring, trim off about one-half of new growth in the first two years.

From year three, start shaping the hedge and leave the base wider than the top. This ensures that sunlight reaches most of the foliage. Once the pittosporum hedge is at its required height, you can trim it closely to keep its shape and form.

If you notice dead branches or pink stems, you should cut infected limbs back to the main stem.

Variegated Pittosporum (Pittosporum variegata)

A pittosporum shrub with variegated leaves allows you to grow an attractive hedge with green and creamy-white leaves. Several species of pittosporum have variegated cultivars. Generally, the variegated pittosporum plants have ovate or obovate green leaves with narrow whitish or yellowish wavy margins.

Types of Pittosporum (With Pictures)

There are over 150 species of pittosporum shrubs and small trees in the family Pittosporaceae. Most pittosporum varieties are hardy in USDA zones 8 through 10. However, some variegated cultivars may only thrive in zones 9 and 10.

Let’s look in more detail at some of the most popular pittosporum hedging shrubs and plants.

Japanese Pittosporum (Pittosporum tobira)

Japanese Pittosporum (Pittosporum tobira)

Japanese pittosporum (Pittosporum tobira)

The Japanese pittosporum is an ornamental evergreen shrub with leathery, spoon-shaped leaves, dense spreading foliage, and white scented flower clusters. Also called mock orange or Austrian laurel, the Japanese pittosporum shrub grows 8 – 13 ft. (2.4 – 4 m) tall and 4 to 8 ft. (1.2 – 2.4 m) wide.

The shrub’s dense foliage is the main reason Japanese pittosporum is a popular plant for hedges. The leaves have a broad, rounded end and are spatulate or obovate shaped. The leaves measure 1” – 3” (2.5 – 7.5 cm) and up to 2” (5 cm) at the widest part. The pittosporum leaves are arranged alternately on woody stems.

Pittosporum hedge

To grow as a dense living fence or privacy hedge, grow a Japanese pittosporum in well-drained soil. The fast-growing hedge has a rounded, spreading growth habit. Pruning the pittosporums helps keep their desirable size and shape.

Pittosporum tobira ‘Variegata’

Pittosporum tobira ‘Variegata’

Pittosporum tobira ‘Variegata’

The Japanese pittosporum cultivar ‘Variegata’ has dark green spatulate leaves with narrow creamy-white margins. Like other pittosporum varieties, the hedging plant produces lightly scented flower clusters that bloom in late spring. The variegated Japanese pittosporum is a compact dwarf shrub that grows 5 to 10 ft. (1.5 – 3 m) tall.

The variegated pittosporum has many uses in a garden landscape. For example, you can grow it as a small tree with variegated foliage by removing lower stems. Or you can plant the shrub in containers and overwinter indoors if you live in colder climates. Additionally, the compact ornamental shrub is ideal for foundation plantings or shrub borders.

Pittosporum hedge

To create an evergreen hedge with variegated leaves, plant the Japanese pittosporum ‘Variegata’ 3 ft. (1 m) apart. The bushy shrub will grow fast and quickly develop into an attractive tall border, privacy screen, or living wall.

Mojo Pittosporum (Pittosporum tobira ‘CNI Three’)

Mojo Pittosporum (Pittosporum tobira ‘CNI Three’)

Mojo pittosporum (Pittosporum tobira ‘CNI Three’)

The mojo pittosporum is a dwarf mounding, evergreen shrub with green and creamy variegated leaves. The rounded shrub has whorls of spatulate glossy green leaves with irregular creamy margins. This miniature pittosporum shrub grows 3 ft. (1 m) tall and up to 3 ft. (1 m) wide.

This easy-grow landscape shrub’s low-growing, compact habit makes it ideal as an accent plant, container shrub, foundation planting, or border plant. In spring, small, creamy-yellowish scented flowers appear. Like all pittosporum plants, the mojo dwarf shrub thrives in full sun or partial shade.

An advantage of the mojo pittosporum is that it is cold-hardy in zones 7 through 10.

Pittosporum hedge

If you are looking for a low-growing evergreen hedge, then the dwarf mojo pittosporum is an ideal choice. Its brightly colored green and creamy foliage adds plenty of year-round color to any garden landscape.

Wheeler’s Dwarf Japanese Pittosporum (Pittosporum tobira ‘Wheeler’s Dwarf’)

Wheeler’s Dwarf Japanese Pittosporum

Wheeler’s dwarf Japanese pittosporum (Pittosporum tobira ‘Wheeler’s Dwarf’)

The ‘Wheeler’s Dwarf’ Japanese pittosporum is a compact rounded hedging shrub with dense, glossy green foliage. The low-maintenance shrub has spatulate leaves 2” to 4” (5 – 10 cm) long. The ‘Wheeler’s Dwarf’ pittosporum cultivar grows at a moderate rate and matures at 2 or 3 ft. (0.6 – 1 m) tall and 5 ft. (1.5 m) wide.

The short stature of the evergreen ‘Wheeler’s Dwarf’ Japanese pittosporum makes it ideal for growing underneath windows, in small groups as an accent plant, or as ground cover for full sun. You can also grow this compact shrub in a container to place on a patio or deck area.

Pittosporum hedge

The ‘Wheeler’s Dwarf’ pittosporum is ideal for growing as a short hedge. In mass plantings, the plant will create a 2 to 3 ft. (0.6 – 1 m) tall hedge without the need to prune its height. Grow the shrubs along driveways, fences, or to accent taller shrubs.

Turner’s Pitt Pittosporum (Pittosporum tobira ‘Turner’s Variegated Dwarf’)

Turner’s Pitt Pittosporum

Turner’s Pitt pittosporum (Pittosporum tobira ‘Turner’s Variegated Dwarf’)

‘Turner’s Pitt’ Japanese pittosporum is a miniature shrub with multiple uses in a sunny garden landscape. The low-growing shrub has clusters of spoon-shaped creamy-yellow and green leaves growing densely at the ends of branches. As one of the smallest pittosporum shrubs, the ‘Turner’s Pitt’ only grows 2.5 ft. (0.7 m) tall and up to 3 ft. (1 m) wide.

There are multiple ways to use ‘Turner’s Pitt’ pittosporum in the landscape. The compact shrub thrives in the sun or shade and adapts to all types of soil. You can use the short shrubs to grow in containers, accent taller plants, or plant at the front of house in full sun or shade.

Pittosporum hedge

One of the best hedging plants for low-growing hedges is the Japanese pittosporum cultivar ‘Turner’s Pitt.’ The compact shrub can create a short, decorative living barrier to line paths or driveways.

Pittosporum tenuifolium

Pittosporum tenuifolium

Pittosporum tenuifolium

Pittosporum tenuifolium is a small tree or large shrub that grows 13 – 26 ft. (4 – 8 m) tall and up to 13 ft. (4 m) wide. The glossy green, leathery, ovate to oval leaves have wavy edges, and the leaves can sometimes appear curled. Small purple flowers appear on the shrub, but their dark color means they are almost unnoticeable.

This evergreen shrub is native to New Zealand and goes by the names Kohuhu or Tawhiwhi. There are also numerous Pittosporum tenuifolium cultivars with colorful purple, silver, or variegated foliage.

Pittosporum hedge

Pittosporum tenuifolium is the ideal shrub for screening, hedging, or borders in a warm, subtropical climate. Grow in a row at least 3 ft. (1 m) apart to create a tall evergreen privacy screen. The dense hedgerows will thrive in coastal areas and full sun or partial shade.

Marjorie Channon Pittosporum (Pittosporum tenuifolium ‘Marjorie Channon’)

Marjorie Channon Pittosporum

Marjorie Channon pittosporum (Pittosporum tenuifolium ‘Marjorie Channon’)

The Pittosporum tenuifolium cultivar ‘Marjorie Channon’ is an attractive ornamental shrub with a rounded habit and oval gray-green leaves with creamy-white margins. The dense year-round foliage growing on dark stems makes this bushy shrub ideal for sunny garden landscapes. ‘Marjorie Channon’ pittosporum grows 8 – 12 ft. (2.4 – 3.6 m) tall and up to 8 ft. (2.4 m) wide.

Like all pittosporum varieties, the ‘Marjorie Channon’ requires little maintenance and grows in most soils. The versatile evergreen shrub is ideal for mass plantings, growing as a specimen tree, or an attractive bush with a pyramidal shape.

Pittosporum hedge

The brightly colored green and white foliage contrasts with dark stems to create a tall ornamental hedge. With regular pruning, the pittosporum is also easy to maintain as a low-growing hedge.

Golf Ball Pittosporum (Pittosporum tenuifolium ‘Golf Ball’)

Golf Ball Pittosporum

Golf Ball pittosporum (Pittosporum tenuifolium ‘Golf Ball’)

The pittosporum cultivar ‘Golf Ball’ has a compact, rounded shape consisting of densely growing bright green oval leaves. The attractive features of this hedging plant are its small leaves, low maintenance, and short stature. ‘Golf Ball’ pittosporum grows 3 to 4 ft. (1 – 1.2 m) tall and has a naturally round shape.

Due to the shrub’s even growth and dense foliage, the ‘Golf Ball’ pittosporum cultivar is perfect for formal gardens, edgings for driveways, or growing in a container for a patio, deck, or entrance-way. You can also grow the versatile shrub along a fence, wall, or decorate a border. This pittosporum is one of the best alternatives for a boxwood hedge.

Pittosporum hedge

‘Golf Ball’ pittosporum shrubs are ideal for medium- to low-growing hedges. The hedging plants tolerate heavy pruning, don’t require much care, and mature at around 3 ft. (1 m) tall.

Emerald Wave Pittosporum (Pittosporum tenuifolium ‘Silver Star’)

Emerald Wave Pittosporum

Emerald Wave pittosporum (Pittosporum tenuifolium ‘Silver Star’)

The ‘Silver Star’ pittosporum cultivar has clusters of small wavy-edged ovate-shaped glossy green leaves growing on black stems. The pittosporum ‘Silver Star’ cultivar has moderate growth and matures at 12 ft. (3.6 m) tall and 5 ft. (1.5 m) wide.

Like all pittosporum shrubs, the plant has low care requirements and is tolerant of drought and heat.

Some landscaping ideas for the Emerald Wave pittosporum include shrub borders, mass planting, or a specimen shrub or tree.

Pittosporum hedge

The ‘Silver Star’ pittosporum cultivar is an ideal hedge or privacy screen in mass plantings. The dense foliage provides year-long protection for your backyard. Minimal pruning will help keep the hedge’s informal shape.

Pittosporum tenuifolium ‘Silver Sheen’

Pittosporum Tenuifolium ‘Silver Sheen’

Pittosporum tenuifolium ‘Silver Sheen’

The ‘Silver Sheen’ Pittosporum tenuifolium cultivar has small, silvery-green oval leaves growing on thin, dark purple stems. The densely branching habit of this shrub has a columnar, pyramidal form. This pretty ‘Silver Sheen’ hedging shrub grows up to 16 ft. (5 m) tall and 13 ft. (4 m) wide.

The densely growing tiny leaves mean that the ‘Silver Sheen’ pittosporum is ideal for topiary. You can also plant the versatile shrub in a mixed border, grow as a foundation planting, or in a container beside a front door.

Pittosporum hedge

The tiny oval leaves of the ‘Silver Sheen’ pittosporum make this perfect for hedging. In addition, the dense foliage withstands pruning if you want to create an attractive formal hedge in a garden landscape.

Pittosporum tenuifolium ‘Tom Thumb’

Pittosporum tenuifolium ‘Tom Thumb'

Pittosporum tenuifolium ‘Tom Thumb’

Pittosporum tenuifolium ‘Tom Thumb’ is a dense slow-growing compact shrub with a rounded growth habit. It has wavy decorative dark purple leaves with light green young growth and tiny scented inconspicuous dark flowers. The small shrub grows up to 2-3 ft. (0.6 – 1 m) tall and similar width.

Grow ‘Tom Thumb’ pittosporum in full sun or partly shaded location in well-draining soil as an accent plant, low border along a fence or wall, or in a container.

Pittosporum hedge

Pittosporum tenuifolium ‘Tom Thumb’ dwarf size is ideal as attractive low hedge or in mass plantings, contrasting against green or variegated foliage of other shrubs or grasses. It doesn’t require much care, and mature at around 3 ft. (1 m) tall.

Pittosporum undulatum

Pittosporum undulatum

Pittosporum undulatum leaves and flowers

The Pittosporum undulatum is a tall shrub or small tree with large glossy green elliptical leaves with characteristic wavy edges. The pointed leaves can measure 2.3” to 6” (6 – 15 cm) long and 1.5” (4 cm) wide. Other features of this attractive shrub are clusters of white scented flowers and small orange fruits.

Pittosporum undulatum fruit

Pittosporum undulatum fruit

Without trimming, Pittosporum undulatum grows up to 50 ft. (15 m) tall. The evergreen foliage thrives in full sun and adapts to most soil types. In some countries, such as Australia, this pittosporum has become an invasive species.

Common names for Pittosporum undulatum include Victorian box, Australian cheesewood, native daphne, and mock orange.

Pittosporum hedge

The most common way to grow Pittosporum undulatum in landscapes is to trim it as a privacy screen or hedge.

Is Pittosporum a Toxic Plant?

Japanese pittosporum shrubs are not poisonous for cats, dogs, or other animals. According to the ASPCA, Pittosporum tobira is on the list of non-toxic plants.

Common Problems Growing Pittosporum Hedge

Pittosporum hedges are typically hard, pest and disease-free shrubs when grown in proper conditions. Usually, growing in well-drained soil and ensuring plenty of air circulation is enough to prevent any foliage fungal diseases.

Sometimes, pests such as mealybugs, aphids, or cottony cushion scale can affect the hedging shrubs. You can usually use a strong jet of water to remove the pests from the foliage physically. Other solutions for getting rid of pests from a pittosporum hedge include neem oil. However, a DIY neem oil solution may not be as practical for treating a large hedge as a sharp blast of water from a hose.

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