How and where to grow Pittosporum

Pittosporum tennifolium in RHS Harlow Carr
Pittosporum tennifolium in RHS Harlow Carr

Pittosporum is an evergreen shrub with delicate slender leaves. It is a genus of around 200 species although the most commonly grown in UK gardens are variations of Pittosporum tenuifolium.

In terms of size, Pittosporum range from compact varieties, such as P. Tom thumb around .5m to taller varieties such as Pittosporum tenuifolium 'Silver Queen' around 4m. Most varieties of P.tenuifolium such as Gold star, P. Variegatum are a good garden size of around 2m. 

Most of the P.tenuifolium are H4 or H5, which is hardy in most places in the UK, but Pittosporum will not thrive in cold spots and dislikes chilly winds. To achieve this hardy rating, Pittosporum needs to be planted in well-drained soil and will not tolerate damp or wet winter conditions. If very cold conditions are forecast, - 8 and below, it may be necessary to cover with a fleece, especially when the shrub is young.

Pittosporum will tolerate light or partial shade, although the varieties with dark or variegated leaves produce the best leaf colour in full sun.

Some varieties are scented such as Pittosporum tenuifolium 'Golf Ball' Pittosporum tenuifolium 'Gold Star' Pittosporum tenuifolium 'Tandara Gold all have small sweet honey scented flowers.

Pittosporum is a neatly shaped compact shrub, which is ideal for a mixed garden border. I took the image above  in the winter at RHS Harlow Carr. The fact that a Pittosporum was growing in northern garden (close to Harrogate,) shows that in the right growing conditions, good dry soil and sheltered, Pittosporum is reasonably hardy .  

Pittosporum can be clipped into an informal hedge and are ideal for coastal gardens.

The image right is an atractive combination of P. 'Tom Thumb' with ferns taken at the Fletcher Moss gardens in Didsbury Manchester. Which incidentally is well worth a visit. I expected just the normal urban type park, what a suprise! A park, lovely planted gardens with ponds, a formal garden in the old Parsonnage draped in Wisteria and beautifully planted plus woodlands and wild area and a great cafe. Really worth a trip out.

Lovley contrasting leaves of Pittosporum tom thumb
Lovley contrasting leaves of Pittosporum tom thumb

How to prune Pittosporum

Pittosporum is an easy to grow shrub, almost maintenance free as it does not really need pruning. Usually it has a naturally neat conical shape. Pittosporum can be tidied up with a light prune undertaken between April and July if needed to trim it back into shape. Just take the shears to it for a neat overall trim.

If you would like to know more about Pittosporum the RHS has a plant assessment ' Pittosporum tenuifolium
hybrids & cultivars  by Diana M Miller' with more detailed information and images.

Green wheelbarrow

Definitely a green wheelbarrow plant requiring very little attention or maintenance.

updated 14.10.2022