The benefit of having one or more of Pittosporum plants around is that your garden is guaranteed to be colourful throughout the year. 

The scent from a Pittosporum plant isn’t very obvious at first glance until you get closer to it. It benefits a lot from some protection from the cold, drying winds of the winter.

How Do You Take Care of Pittosporum?

Pittosporum plants are suitable to be cultivated for city and courtyard gardens. A long spell of cold poses danger to the plant. Also, heavy snow that is frozen on the foliage of a Pittosporum plant can result in a serious die back. Extreme weather conditions are rare in the United Kingdom so a little consideration for the places you want to cultivate these shrubs will go a long way in having a positive impact on their growth. 

Pittosporum tenuifolium Banoway Bay ('Breebay') (PBR)

Pittosporum tenuifolium Banoway Bay (‘Breebay’) (PBR)

One of the most popular species of Pittosporum is the Pittosporum tenuifolium. (What is Pittosporum?) It is medium-sized and when mature, it forms a large, broadly conical shrub. It has an oval green foliage that is wavy around the margins. Its fresh green colour makes a striking backdrop to contrasting textures as well as colours. Tobira and Tom Thumb are also common varieties.

The ‘Golf Ball’ cultivar of Pittosporum tenuifolium is ideal for making a low hedge, serves as a good alternative to Box, and suitable for a topiary piece. There are 200 other varieties of this amazing ornamental plant. The popular ones are: 

  • Pittosporum tenuifolium ‘Silver Sheen’, a fast-growing, hardy variety of Pittosporum that has a silvery green foliage. It is a good addition to your garden or yard.
  • Pittosporum tenuifolium ‘Screen Master’, which is capable of growing up to 1m in height within a year. This variety is the most suitable if you want to cultivate a dense hedge.
  • Pittosporum eugenioides Variegatum, a Pittosporum plant that has variegated foliage and produces small, creamy flowers during the summer and spring. 


Where Is The Best Place To Plant A Pittosporum?

Although there are low-maintenance shrubs, it is important that you cultivate your Pittosporum plants in the most ideal location for proper growth and development. 

Pittosporum plants are able to grow well in full sun or light shade. Make sure you provide adequate shelter for the plants from cold winds, and avoid frost pockets. The most ideal type of soil for Pittosporum are fertile, well-drained soil, although they can thrive in all type of soil.

On the south, east coasts and other milder parts of the United Kingdom, you can opt to plant more tender species of Pittosporum. These tender species can also thrive in warm, sheltered gardens. In such locations, the plants should be cultivated close to a sunny wall, or other warm spot. Provide winter protection as well.

Naturally compact cultivars are ideal for pots and containers. The best place to plant variegated cultivars is a sunny spot. This is so that their leaf colour can develop properly. 

How Close To A Fence Should You Plant Pittosporum?

The spacing you require between your Pittosporum plant and your fence is dependent on the species of plant you are cultivating. It is important that you anticipate what the size of the plant will be when mature before making any decision. 

Use that mature size as a reference when you embark on planting your Pittosporums. Cultivating Pittosporums too close to a fence may create an overgrown appearance. 

The simple way to determine how far your fence should be from your Pittosporum plant is to use the following metrics:

  • Find the width or spread of the Pittosporum plant species you intend to use.
  • Then divide that number into half.
  • Use that number as the distance between your fence and the center of your planting hole. 
  • Add 1-2 feet to the dimension you have calculated if you want space between the fence and your Pittosporum plants once they are matured. 
  • Pay close attention to how close the individual plants are to each other. If you are not sure, use the mature plant width as the distance between the center points of each planting hole. 


How Far Apart Should I Plant Variegated Pittosporum?

If you intend to cultivate them for mass plantings and in shrub borders, a spacing of between 8-9 feet is ideal. 6-8 feet apart is suitable if you are cultivating the plants for privacy screens and hedges.

Space the variegated Pittosporums slightly closer together to form a hedge, borders, privacy and wind protection. Variegated Pittosporum remain short and are suitable to be placed along the edges of the garden bed or path as border plants. 

For mass planting, which is a method of filling in a landscape area with group of flowers of one or more kind of plants, variegated Pittosporum works perfectly. This is a normal practise to reduce the multiplication of weeds in a garden. 

For firescaping where the landscape has been fashioned in a manner to reduce the dangers posed by fire, you can cultivate variegated Pittosporum plants.  MORE: How big do pittosporum grow?


How Much Water Do Pittosporums Need?

Pittosporum plants require little amount of water as they are drought tolerance. However, they need water for the first couple of years after planting. They need this water especially in dry spells in spring and summer as their roots become established in the soil.

If the soil the plants are cultivated on is that which dries up quickly, you may need to provide them with water especially during the dry spells in summer. This is necessary to forestall premature leaf drop and promote healthy growth. 

Large species of Pittosporum plants take more time to become fully established. Hence they may require a deep watering. Their water need may be up to five years after planting. However, this is dependent on how dry the soil that the plants are cultivated on. 

As a form of advice, provide your Pittosporum plants with an inch of water every five to seven days. This will help them to establish deep and extensive root system while growing. Mulching the soil around where they are planted is a good way to preserve moisture and keep the roots of the plants cool. 

Pittosporum hedges on the other hand require deep watering once or twice per week, depending on the weather conditions of the place they are cultivated. 

How Do I Keep My Pittosporum Healthy?

Although it is a low maintenance shrub, you can take extra care for your plant to grow healthier, and have a longer lifespan. Here are some tips you can use.

  • In addition to cultivating in a well-drained soil, ensure you space the plant three to five feet apart for optimum growth. 
  • Dried leaves, wood barks, and other organic mulches are essential in preserving moisture and keeping the roots of the plant cool. Deep watering of the plant is also essential. 
  • Ensure you use a well-balanced general purpose fertiliser before the appearance of new growth. You can either use a foliar spray or the popular method of spreading fertiliser granules. It is important that you follow the instruction concerning fertiliser application laid down by the manufacturer to avoid overfeeding. 
  • Conduct a proper inspection on the lower side of the foliage of the plant to identify Pittosporum pests and diseases. The common pests are aphids and mealybugs. Use water from a horse spray insecticide if you happen to spot any of the pests. 
  • In situations where the leaves of the plants are damaged, treat them properly with fungicide. Alternatively, prune the infected parts in order to prevent further damage. 
  • Pruning your Pittosporum plants during the winter is advisable to maintain size, appearance, and shape. Make sure you use pruning tools that are sharp enough to cut off damaged branches. Collect and discard clippings immediately after pruning. This will provide enough room for more healthy development.

What Is The Best Fertiliser For Pittosporum?

Pittosporum plants in borders require little or no regular feeding. However, if the plants are cultivated on a poor, infertile soil, then you should feed the plants with general fertiliser like Vitax Q4, Growmore or fish, blood and bone in spring. Do not forget to feed the plants according to the instructions given by the manufacturers.

Compost manure is also useful. It provides a balanced slow-release fertiliser. Dried blood supply the plants with only nitrogen. Bone meal on the other hand is rich in phosphorus but deficient in potash. 

The use of a slow-release fertiliser will ensure that your Pittosporum plants are growing well throughout the year. You may not need to stake your plants except they are cultivated in windy areas. 

If you are looking for a fertiliser that is a suitable choice for rapid fill in and high stress areas, then Triple-8 is the one. This fertiliser is designed in a way to bring balance between the carbon to nitrogen ratio. It helps to regulate the nitrogen to carbon levels in the soil so it can hold in the nitrogen properly. 

For Pittosporum hedges, feed the plants in autumn and spring with Yates Dynamic Lifter Soil Improver & Plant Fertiliser. This is essential in promoting the development of strong root and healthy foliage. 


Are Pittosporum Deep Rooted?

The root system of Pittosporum plants are shallow and spread out. For instance, Kohuhu is a Pittosporum plant that is relatively fast-growing from 0.5m to 3m within five years of cultivation. 

What Soil Does Pittosporum Like?

Pittosporum plants are able to grow and survive in most types of soil including clay. They also grow well in acidic to alkaline soils and tolerant to salt, and sandy soils. However, you should cultivate them in a well-drained, fertile, and humus-rich soil for optimum growth and development. 

You should ensure that the soil is rich in organic matter. It is advisable that you dig some compost or broken down manure into the soil before planting so that the plant can grow as it should. 


Are Pittosporum Hardy Plants? 

Pittosporum have attracted a lot of interest from plant lovers, and those who want to add new plants to their collection. The reason for this growing interest and enthusiasm isn’t farfetched. 

This Asia-native plant is capable of growing to a height of over 2m. Its leaves are dense, leathery in texture, spoon-shaped and dark green in colour. Pittosporum are ideal for foundation plantings, accent use, and massing. 

You can also use Pittosporum as screens and windbreak. They are also excellent hedges. This plant is grown in cold climates in tubs and then taken inside during the winter period. 

It is important to state that Pittosporum doesn’t respond well to shearing, even though its long branches can be pruned. It is also of little use for formal hedges. 

Many variety of Pittosporum are hardy in a sunny spot, sheltered and protected from strong winds. However, the varieties that have white, showy, scented flowers may need some form of protection during the winter. 

In the following lines, we’ll be answering some questions about how hardy Pittosporum is and other related questions. 

How Cold Can Pittosporum Tolerate?

Pittosporum plants are hardy to cold to below a temperature of below 5 degrees Celsius. Once they are established, they require full sun and a moderately fertile but well-drained soil. Pittosporum also require a small amount of summer water.

Do Pittosporum Freeze?

Pittosporum is an evergreen shrub that is capable of tolerating brief periods of frosts. The water inside the plant can however freeze if the frost lasts for a day or more. This freezing will therefore cause damage to the plant. 

The plant is also susceptible to damage from winter winds because it keeps its foliage during the same season. It can sustain injury via dehydration, which results from loss of water from its leaves. 

Although Pittosporum can get used to cold at a gradual pace like many plants, sudden drop in temperature after a relatively warm weather can be damaging to the plant. 

Will Pittosporum Come Back After A Hard Freeze?

Currently, there is no way to determine the extent of damage or whether or not your Pittosporum plant will be able to survive it. However, just like other evergreen shrubs, here are some useful tips. 

Wait until you notice the plant is beginning to re-sprout from the existing stems. Observe the part of the plant that is still alive and cut away the dead ones. Old foliage on the plant will most certainly fall off and you may not see any bloom too. Pittosporum originated from milder parts of Southern Asia and aren’t conditioned to survive in places with zero degrees. They instead prefer milder climates 

It is worth stating that newly planted Pittosporum are more susceptible to freeze damage than the older, healthy ones with a more established root system. 

Which Is The Hardiest Pittosporum?

Pittosporum tenuifolium and its cultivar have shown to be hardier than other species of Pittosporum. They are the most widely cultivated Pittosporum species in the United Kingdom.

As soon as this species of Pittosporum are established and begin to develop a woody stem, they are capable of tolerating a temperature as low as -5 degree Celsius. If you intend to plant them in the colder regions of the United Kingdom, you need to provide some shelter because easterly winds and wind chill factor of cold north pose some form of danger to it. 

However in coastal regions, Pittosporum is able to tolerate salt laden westerly gales. The only damage that this condition can cause is minor leaf scorching. It is recommended that you grow this plant against a wall in colder regions.

Also, grow the dwarf variety in pots and bring them into the greenhouse during the winter. 

Can Pittosporum Survive A Freeze? 

There is no definite answer as to whether Pittosporum can survive a freeze. The answer is dependent on individual plants. The best course of action is to be patient and see what will happen. 

This is because some winter-damaged shrubs are capable of growing back, and there isn’t much you can do to improve the odds. However, it is advisable that you clear the weeds around the roots. This will ensure that the Pittosporum isn’t competing with other plants for nutrient. 

Applying a layer of mulch will probably be helpful. Make sure you add a few inches of garden compost, manure compost, or well-rotted manure. High dosage of fertiliser may not change the situation it should be stated. 

A good sign that your Pittosporum plant is still alive is to carry out “The Scratch Test”. You can do this by scratching away a little bit of the plant’s bark with your finger or a knife. If you notice that there is green underneath it, then the plant is still alive. It is normal to find green under the bark of a Pittosporum. 

What Is The Most Hardy Pittosporum?

Pittosporum tenuifolium is the most hardy Pittosporum. This particular variety is native to both the Southern and Northern islands of New Zealand and can be found in areas with sea levels to high altitudes. 

  1. tenuifolium and its cultivars have leaves that are leathery in texture and completely evergreen. They produce abundant flowers that are small in size and hidden within its evergreen foliage. The flowers of this species of Pittosporum are not only remarkable but are also popular for their honey-like scent, which mostly become apparent in the evenings. 

Can Pittosporum Take Full Sun?

Pittosporum plants are highly versatile evergreen shrubs and have the ability to fill several roles in the landscape. They are capable of surviving in full sun and also in shade. They are not selective when it comes to lighting. Pittosporum is also heat tolerant. 

Can Pittosporum Grow In Shade?

This plant isn’t selective when it comes to lighting. Hence, it can grow well in shade as it does in full sun. You can use Pittosporum plants as low-border in shaded location. They are also suitable for mass planting below tall and shady trees. 

Which Pittosporum Is Best In Shade?

Kohuhu or Pittosporum tenuifolium ‘Marjory Channon’ is a variety of Pittosporum that has a good hedge, oval-shaped and mid-green coloured leaves. It has an ultimate height of between 2.5-4m and a spread of 2.5-4m.

With a hardiness of H4, this particular variety can grow well in full sun or partial shade. It thrives best in fertile, moist, but well-drained soil. The plant thrives in partial shade but will need to be positioned in sunny, open places for its leaves to be more colourful.

If you intend to grow this plant in milder areas and in coastal gardens, ensure you provide adequate protection from cold, drying winds. It should be cultivated in sheltered positions such as south- or west-facing wall in cold gardens. Use deep dry mulch to protect the roots of this variety in the winter season. 

Propagation of this Pittosporum plant is best achieved via semi-ripe basal cuttings in the summer, basal hardwood cuttings in late autumn, and in spring, propagation is best carried out by layering or air layering. 

Ideal planting locations for this evergreen shrub includes: City and courtyard gardens, coastal, cottage and informal gardens, low maintenance, Mediterranean climate plants, cut flowers, patio and container plants, hedging and screens, wall side borders, and flower beds and borders.

Pittosporum tenuifolium ‘Marjory Channon’ is susceptible to Pittosporum sucker as well as leaf spot and powdery mildew. You can choose to cultivate the plant alongside other varieties of Pittosporum in your garden or yard, or combine it with other plants to give it a facelift. 

The small, fragrant, maroon coloured flowers they produce in late spring will be a wonderful addition to your garden. It is a low maintenance shrub so you do not have to worry about how stressful taking care of it would be.

Its tolerance for varying soil conditions makes it the perfect plant for every garden owners or plant enthusiasts. 

Are Pittosporum Tolerant To Frost?

Pittosporum plants are tolerant to frost. That means you can cultivate them in areas with cold winter temperatures. Pittosporum hedges are able to survive regular frost, overnight winter temperatures of -5 degree Celsius, and occasional snow. 


What Can I Use Pittosporum For?

Pittosporum plants are cultivated for several purposes. They include. 

  • Pittosporum plants are cultivated as a hedge for ornamental purposes. This is because the plants are useful in edging a garden bed. Regular pruning is needed to achieve the best result.
  • Pittosporums are used to manage opportunistic fungal infections. They are useful as herbs especially for patients who are dealing with human immune deficiency syndromes.
  • Its strong root fibers make the plant ideal for making baskets.
  • Pittosporum are used as a substitute for soap because it contains saponins. 
  • Pittosporum is also cultivated to be used as a red dye since the plant itself produces a red dye.

Can I Use Pittosporum For Flower Arrangement?

There are a host of reasons why Pittosporum is popular among florists and flower arrangers. In the last decade, many have turn to this amazing plant because of the following. 

  • The leaves of Pittosporum are thick enough as well as glossy to retain water and tolerate little abuse. They do not spoil the arrangement by flopping over.
  • Their leaves last long and are capable of outliving any cut flower in the same arrangement. 
  • The stems of Pittosporum can be cut and placed with precision because of their thin, woody but strong nature. 
  • The stems of this evergreen shrub is perfect in oasis.
  • The leaves of Pittosporum grow densely and so are suitable for both large scale filling or for precise decoration. Large scale filling is done when a clump is cut further down a main stem. Precise decoration is done by cutting individual stems of just two or so leaves. 
  • Since Pittosporum are evergreen, you can cut their foliage at any time all year round. 
  • Pittosporum plants are ideal for all types of flower arrangement including: Posies, modern hard-ties, pedestal arrangement, table, classic bouquets, etc. 

To Wrap It Up

If your idea is to cultivate Pittosporum in a smaller, city garden, you should opt for the ‘Tom Thumb’ cultivar of P. tenuifolium. It has a bright green coloured young leaves. They require little amount of maintenance and are very neat. 

If your reason for cultivating Pittosporum is for hedges, screens, or windbreaks, the plants need adequate pruning to serve these purposes and more.  

Although Pittosporum plants require heavy pruning. However, you should take adequate care because pruning the plants when they are stressed as a result of the heat may cause them to wither or die. 

Do Pittosporums Grow In Pots?

If you are thinking of cultivating a garden and you are in search of fast-growing plants, the Pittosporum is the right plant. They are available in over 200 varieties. Pittosporums are also able to thrive in many types of soils including clay.

Pittosporums are soft, bushy, and have deep green to silvery-green coloured leaves. Most of the popular cultivars of Pittosporum are hardy when cultivated in sheltered places. 

It is important to note that you’ll need to provide some winter protection if the variety you opt for are those with showy, scented, white coloured flowers. 

Pittosporums can grow in various places including pots and containers. However, there are several points you need to take into consideration. Autumn and spring are the ideal times to plant Pittosporum plants in pots and containers.

Why You Should Grow Pittosporum in pots

Their highly scented flowers and foliage improve aesthetics of gardens and yards where they are cultivated. They are also useful in flower arrangement. Most varieties of Pittosporum can be clipped into different shapes in order to give your gardens a face lift. They ideal time to clip and prune Pittosporum to shape is mid-spring to late summer. 

This is because they are better able to settle in quickly when the soil is moist and dry, and when the weather isn’t too hot. Smaller varieties of Pittosporum plants are the most suitable to be planted in pots. 

How To Grow Pittosporums In Pots

The following are some tips that would help you get the best out of your Pittosporum plants if you intend to cultivate them in a pot.

  • Ensure you pick a variety of Pittosporum that is capable of growing in a pot. Also, choose a pot that is at least 300mm in width and deep. Then position in full sun for optimum growth.
  • Fill the pot you intend to use for the planting with a quality potting mix. Then remove the shrub from the container. Carefully and gently tease the roots of the plants and then cut away any tangled or circled roots.
  • Position the plant(s) in the planting hole and then backfill with potting mix. Do that while gently firming the plant(s) well. 
  • Ensure you water in thoroughly. Do the watering deeply once or twice per week depending on the weather condition. 
  • For the plant(s) to grow and develop properly, feed them with fertiliser in the autumn and spring. This will also promote healthy foliage development. 
  • In about two to three years after cultivating, the roots of your Pittosporum plant would have filled the pot in which you have planted them. You should take steps to re-pot the plant into a slightly bigger pot so you don’t hinder its growth. 

To Wrap It Up

It is important that you cultivate the Pittosporum plants in a well-drained, moist, and fertile soil. Mulching regularly will help to keep the soil moist. The beauty of having Pittosporum in your garden is that you have plants that can survive in varying soil conditions. 

You are also afforded the freedom to choose different varieties and you’ll still achieve the same result. These plants can thrive very well in coastal regions and also tolerate light frost.


Last Modified: May 6, 2023