Also sometimes called mock orange, Pittosporum is an evergreen shrub that can grow up to 15 feet tall, the dense leaves and attractive white flowers are an excellent feature to a garden. When the flowers bloom, it is extremely fragrant, making it a pleasant addition to any landscape. Here is Harwood’s Lawn Cares guide to everything you need to know about pittosporums.
Choosing Your Pittosporums
There are multiple varieties, depending on the size and the appearance of the leaves. While most shrubs will grow 10 to 15 feet tall, there are dwarf varieties that are much smaller. You can choose yours based on the look that you desire; either way, it’s going to be a durable and hardy plant that’s fairly easy to grow.
Varieties of Pittosporum
- “Green Pillar”
- “Silver Sheen”
- “Silver Song”
- “Tasman Ruffles”
- “Wonder Screen”
- “Screen Master”
Pittosporums are a fast-growing, dense hedging plant which makes it an excellent fence alternative. It’s also tolerant of both drought and air that contains sea salt, which makes it remarkably popular in hot, coastal areas. You can create an entire boundary line with the plant and keep it in line with a light clipping. Here’s what you need to know about keeping Pittosporums.
Planting Your Pittosporums
Plant anywhere from full sun or heavy shade, and with nearly any soil. It’s recommended to be planted within zones 8 to 11. It’s a long-lived shrub, so plan ahead regarding how you want your Pittosporum to be featured within your garden.
Like other shrubs, you should dig a hole that is twice the width of the root ball, and one and a half its depth. Backfill the hole slightly and place the shrub so that all its roots are covered with moderately packed soil. Plant in either spring or fall, and water it weekly until it has established itself. If your soil is low on nutrients, consider enriching it slightly with fertiliser (but not too much).
In colder locations, they may be planted in tubs rather than in the ground and taken in during the winter. In this situation, Pittosporum will be an attractive accent both inside and out. Dwarf varieties are best for these situations and will grow to healthy and attractive mounts when placed in large tubs. They can also become root-bound fairly easily because it is such a fast grower, so care should be taken to ensure that its roots aren’t overly crowded. Crowded roots could lead to dropped leaves and dying branches.
The Pittosporum can provide a screen or a windbreak due to its dense leaves. It’s often used as a border for this reason. You can also plant individually as they can be used as accents, whether they are fully grown or dwarf.
Taking Care of Your Pittosporums
A hardy shrub that requires minimal attention once planted. It is resistant to deer and most pests, as well as most garden diseases. Pittosporum will grow up to 24 inches every year, though growth will slow as the plant becomes older. When properly cared for, they can live from 50 to 150 years, making it a substantial investment in your home’s landscaping.
While Pittosporum can be pruned for shape, it generally doesn’t respond well to being cut back. Consequently, it’s usually not used for formal hedges. Provide an inch of water every five to seven days until it has established a strong root system. From then, you should only need to water if the season is particularly dry.
Inspect your Pittosporum for leaf damage and rot. Take action as require and yours should grow quickly and healthily.
Common Problems With Pittosporums
A fairly low maintenance bush, that usually doesn’t require additional attention as long as it’s in the right zone, with fairly moderate weather. Since it is both deer and pest resistant, it’s a very durable accent piece. However, there are still some issues that might be seen.
- Leaves are turning brown. This could be because of root rot or fungi growing on the plant. Pittosporum should be drained well and should not be over-watered. In rainier weather, Pittosporum may begin to grow fungi or mold. You may need to cut back on the watering; wait until the soil is dry before watering again. This also helps to establish a deeper root system.
- Yellow leaves. Yellow leaves can mean anything from damaged roots to nutritional deficiencies. If your Pittosporum hasn’t been fertilised recently, you may need to give it additional nutrients. If potted, it may need to be moved to a larger pot, or a pot with better drainage. If anything has recently disrupted the ground around the Pittosporum, then it may just need to re-establish its root system.
- Shedding leaves. Leaf drop can occur if unusually cold temperatures are seen before winter. This will generally resolve itself, but the tree may need time to regrow its leaves. Because leaf shedding can be traumatic to the plant, you may not want to prune the plant during this time.
- Yellow spots on the leaves. Yellow spots, rather than yellow leaves, usually denote a fungus. This can be treated through the use of chemical and natural fungicides before the leaves experience greater levels of damage. The fungus can occur in high moisture areas and in areas where there isn’t very good air circulation.
- White coating. A white coating can indicate the occurrence of something known as Southern Blight, a type of fungal infection. This is particularly dangerous: the entire plant will need to be removed and the soil treated. Southern Blight can afflict many types of plant, flower, and shrub, and has to be dealt with or it will come back.
- Pink or orange stems. Pink stems indicate a type of infection known as “pink limb blight,” which generally occurs when an infection enters into an injury after pruning. Pruning equipment should be kept clean and proper pruning procedures should be used.
Most Pittosporums are going to grow and keep growing; there’s a reason why they’re such fast-growing and long-lived shrubs. If you choose the right variety and make sure that its roots well after planting, you shouldn’t encounter any significant problems with Pittosporum growth.
Overall, Pittosporums are an excellent choice both as a screening shrub or an accent tree. Not only is it attractive and fragrant, but it will live a long time, and will require very little in terms of maintenance. On the other hand, since it can’t be aggressively cut back, it may not be well-suited to decorative or formal shrubs.
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