Pittosporum is an evergreen shrub that originated from Australia, Japan, China, some parts of Africa, and New Zealand. This plant is commonly referred to as Cheesewood because of its popularity. Several varieties of Pittosporum plants are making their way into gardens and yards around the world. Read more about the many uses pittosporum has around the garden

Many plant lovers are now embracing it because of its fragrance that fills the air all year round. The beautiful foliage that gives beauty and colour to wherever it is planted. Also, its evergreen nature that ensures that its leaves never fall off.

However, pittosporum can sometimes have problems, and we try and address some of the main problems below.

Pittosporum tenuifolium Gold Star - Evergreen kohuhu

Pittosporum tenuifolium Gold Star – Evergreen kohuhu

Why Are My Pittosporums Dying? 

Pittosporum plants may die due to several reasons. They are susceptible to some diseases and pests. They may also die as a result of underwatering or overwatering. Some of those reasons include.

  • Pittosporum plants may die as a result of Root rot, which becomes a problem when they are cultivated on a waterlogged soil. Adequate sunlight, good drainage, and healthy soil is necessary to eliminate root rot.
  • In other instances, you may notice that curled leaves are beginning to appear on your plant. This is due to Myoporum thrips. This is best treated using Bayer Advanced Tree and Shrub. The infected plants should be treated twice annually. Revival of infected plants is possible if the solution is used early enough. 
  • Underwatering and overwatering can also kill your plant. You will notice browning on the leaves of the plant as a sign of insufficient water. Reduction of foliage is also a sign that the root system of your Pittosporum plant is dry. This situation can be remedied by watering deeply twice a week. 
  • Your plant may die suddenly if you do not monitor it to check for water requirement. Watering the plant according to the evapotranspiration rate is important.

Of all the listed reasons for the death of Pittosporum plants, poor drainage, overly wet soils, and overwatering are the major culprits. Paying attention to those problems and preventing them will prolong the lifespan of your plants. 

MORE: Why is my pittosporum dying? 

Pittosporums problems with the leaves

Why Do Pittosporum Lose Their Leaves?

There are several reasons why your Pittosporum plant may start losing its leaves. One of the reason is good, and the other is a sign of disease. Sometimes, Pittosporum plants shed leaves because the region or area they are planted have experienced a cold spell. That could cause the plants to shed some leaves. If the plants are healthy, then recovery should be smooth. 

Leaves shedding may be prompted by the appearance of new growth, which is completely natural. However, if your plants are losing their leaves and you notice some spots on them, then that is a sign of leaf spot. 

The best manner of approach in curtailing this is to remove infected foliage and increase circulation. You should also look into your watering regimen and make some improvements. 

What Causes Brown Spots on Pittosporum?

Humid conditions that result in poor air circulation may leave your Pittosporum plants at the mercy of leaf spot. This fungal disease caused specifically by Aternaria tenuisimma, Phyllosticta spp. is often noted by the appearance of small, dark-brown, circular necrotic spots encircled by chlorotic areas. 

The best way to prevent this is to water the plant at the root only so as to prevent wetting foliage. Provide avenue for good air circulation by pruning heavy canopies so as to open up the evergreen shrub. 

Why Are My Pittosporums Leaves Turning Yellow?

Moisture stress is the most common reason why Pittosporum leaves turn yellow. As earlier stated, it may be as a result of underwatering or overwatering the plant. 

If you observe that the soil in which your plants are cultivated is dry, ensure you water the plant regularly. Take care however not to overwater the plant as excess water can damage their leaves. 

Why Is My Pittosporum Losing Its Leaves?

Your Pittosporum plant may be losing its leaves because the soil in which it is planted has dried up around the root system. In such situation, the plant will naturally respond to that condition. To remedy that, water the plant appropriately.

Many garden owners often resort to frequent shallow watering but it has been discovered that a good deep watering two times per week is more efficient. 

Why Is My Pittosporum Wilting?

Pittosporums just like other plants, are susceptible to certain diseases. Pittosporum leaves wilting is one of such. This may be caused by Root rot. In such situation, the leaves of your plant will wilt and then die. 

Good drainage in the soil, proper watering techniques, and cutting off infected leaves and branches will help curtail this. 

How Do You Know If You Are Overwatering Your Plants?

Overwatering Pittosporum plants can hamper the growth and may even kill the plant. The best way to determine if you are overwatering your Pittosporum plant is to check the soil. If it is wet, you’ve overwatered it.

Another way is to have a feel of the plant’s leaf showing browning. If the leaf feels soft and limp, then the plant is overwatered. 

Other signs that you have overwatered your Pittosporum plants include: green-coloured soil around the plant (an indication of the presence of algae), absence of new growth, stunted or rotting roots, and young leaves turning brown. 


Can Pittosporum Be Transplanted?

You can transplant Pittosporum plants and you can do that at any time of the year. It is important that you create the right root ball size in order to carry out transplantation successfully. Proper management of the root ball will help to prevent transplant shock.

Below are useful tips to help you transplant your Pittosporum successfully.

  • Start by tying back the lowest branches of your Pittosporum plant in order to reach the soil below it. Then tie back the lower branches with heavy twine and get them out of the way. 
  • Mark the north-facing side of the plant so that you can orient the evergreen shrub in its new location properly. 
  • Then mark a circle that is 12 inches bigger than the anticipated root ball size required for transplanting using the tip of a spade. 
  • Dig a trench using a spade around the plant. The trench should be the right depth needed for the root ball. For instance, you should dig a 16-inch deep root ball for a 4-foot tall Pittosporum plant.
  • Ensure you inspect the root to see if it is root bound. This is common with Pittosporum plants that are being transplanted from pots or containers. Then make cuts around a root-bound root ball so as to allow the roots to grow outward in the new location
  • Move the plant to its new location. Ensure you wrap the root system in burlap when moving. This will prevent the root system from drying out, which usually result in transplant shock.
  • Dig a hole twice as wide as the root ball of the plant and deep enough in order to allow the soil line to be evident on the trunk of the Pittosporum. This will allow it sit an inch above the ground. 
  • Place the plant in the hole and fill the hole with the removed subsoil. It is advisable that you water the transplant so as to settle the subsoil. The water need of the plant is dependent on the type of soil it is planted. A well-drained soil will require half a gallon of water per square foot soil.
  • Use the topsoil to fill the top 6 inches of the hole and than tramp down softly. To hold in moisture, mould an additional soil around the plant in a circular manner.
  • Ensure you inspect the plant daily for the first 2-3 weeks after transplanting to see if it needs water. It is important for the plant to have a consistent moisture level which will promote good growth. 

If you are cultivating your Pittosporum plants in pots or containers, it is worth remembering that they are able to tolerate drought better than excessive irrigation. So it is important you take care not to overwater them.

There are 200 or more species of Pittosporum available to meet whatever gardening need you have. You should however ensure to follow all the given Pittosporum care tips in order to prevent your plants from dying. Failing to do so will deprive your garden or yard of the beauty these plants afford. 


Is Pittosporum Toxic To Dogs? 

Pittosporum plants are listed as plants that are safe for gardens that houses dogs. It should be stated however that dogs are not herbivore, that means they are do not depend on plant exclusively for food. 

Their digestive system isn’t also built to process plants in large quantities. Therefore if a dog should consume excessive amount of vegetations either deliberately or erroneously, it may result in intestinal blockages which may be dangerous for the animal. 

Symptoms of Pittosporum Poisoning In Dogs

In situations where your dog(s) consume Pittosporum plants, you’ll notice symptoms of intestinal blockage 24 hours after the consumption. Such symptoms includes:

  • Distended abdomen 
  • Fever
  • Abdominal pain
  • Loss or absence of appetite
  • Inability to eliminate 
  • Shock
  • Straining on defecation and 
  • Vomiting. 

Causes of Pittosporum Poisoning In Dogs

There are several causes of Pittosporum poisoning in dogs specifically as a result of its consumption of large amount of pittosporum plants. 

Intestinal blockage

Dogs aren’t equipped with the digestive systems of herbivores like goats, cows, and rams. Hence, there is a certain amount of vegetation they can consume. When they pass that threshold, intestinal blockage may occur.

It is not common for dogs to sample garden plants, there are instances where some dogs may develop a huge craving or pica for non-food items. This craving can make the animal consume large amounts of inappropriate materials. 


Pesticides can also cause Pittosporum poisoning in dogs. There are instances where non-toxic plants like Pittosporum can be treated with pesticides in order to ward off pests. Dogs may come in contact with these harmful pesticides and become poisoned.

If your dog has been poisoned by pesticides, it will exhibit the following symptoms: seizures, vomiting, tremors, and breathing difficulties. 


Diagnosis is best carried out via a complete blood count, urinalysis, and biochemistry profile. This will generally help to detect if there are imbalances or toxins in your dog’s body. Your veterinarian will also conduct a physical examination.

If the result of the examination indicates signs of toxins in the dog’s system, the veterinarian will request for information about your dog’s recent history and if it has had opportunities to eat inappropriately. The test the veterinarian will conduct may not be restricted to check whether the dog consumed Pittosporum plants. 

They may extend it verify whether it is a toxin from other plants or from pesticides. This will be concluded before an authoritative diagnosis will be made. 

Are Pittosporum Poisonous To Cats?

Most Pittosporums are generally non-toxic to cats but ingesting them may pose some danger because they are not part of your pet’s regular diet. Some species of Pittosporum contains saponin that can cause severe illness to smaller creatures like cats. 

Can Goats Eat Pittosporum?

Pittosporum is listed among the plants goats can eat. They do not pose any form of danger to the herbivore. 

To Wrap It Up

Pittosporum do not contain toxins that can harm dogs. Many other situations can result in dogs being poisoned. In a situation where your dog has consumed Pittosporum plants that aren’t from your garden and you notice any symptoms that indicate that poisoning has occurred, kindly contact your veterinarian. 

With over 200 species of Pittosporum available, many of them have beautiful clusters of 5-petaled flowers that are creamy white in colour. Asides flowers, some species bear inedible fruits containing seeds. The fruit capsules of some varieties of Pittosporum are green in colour and then brownish in colour when mature. Common Pittosporum include Pittosporum tobiraPittosporum tenuifolium and Pittosporum Tom thumb.

For every of the features that makes Pittosporum a wonderful addition to a garden, its foliage is the most remarkable. You can use Pittosporum plants to create hedges, screens, and barriers. This is due to their how tall they are capable of growing and how wide and compact they can spread. More: How big do pittosporum grow?

Pittosporum plants are fast-growing, able to grow in many types of soil including clay, as well as drought resistant. You do not have to worry much about maintenance because it requires little amount of maintenance and can survive in coastal areas. More: Pittosporum Grow Guide

Summary of key points

  • Pittosporum: An evergreen shrub, popular for fragrance and foliage
  • Pittosporum susceptible to diseases, pests, underwatering, and overwatering
  • Pittosporum root rot: caused by waterlogged soil
  • Myoporum thrips: causes curled leaves, treatable with Bayer Advanced Tree and Shrub
  • Under/overwatering: browning leaves and reduced foliage, water deeply twice a week
  • Leaf shedding: natural for new growth or caused by cold spells
  • Leaf spot: fungal disease causing brown spots, increase circulation and adjust watering
  • Yellow leaves: often due to moisture stress, adjust watering
  • Wilting: potentially caused by root rot, improve drainage and remove infected parts
  • Overwatering: check soil moisture, signs include green-colored soil, stunted roots, and brown young leaves
  • Transplanting: possible anytime, manage root ball size to prevent shock
  • Toxicity: generally safe for dogs and cats, but excessive consumption may cause issues Goats: can safely eat Pittosporum
  • Over 200 species available, used for hedges, screens, and barriers
  • Low maintenance, drought-resistant, and adaptable to various soil types and environments


Last Modified: April 3, 2023