Pittosporum – Landscape’s Best Supporting Actor
Sunday, May 9, 2021
Pittosporum – Landscape's Best Supporting Actor
Foliage fans will always find a Pittosporum to please. These versatile and hardy plants are available in a range of attractive foliage and forms, from the two-toned leaves of variegated species to fast growing trees to the more compact dwarf varieties. The flowers are often quite fragrant and range in color from white to creamy yellow, dark red to purple. Pittosporums contribute to the textural beauty of a landscape while making very few demands. They look beautiful, stay tidy, demand modest amounts of water, and accept positions far from prime in the landscape. When other, flashier neighbors have finished their performance, Pittosporums are ready in the background to take the stage.
– This shrub or small tree is often used as coastal shelter due to its notable resistance to wind and salt air. The leathery leaves with rounded ends are gray-green and felted beneath. Maroon flowers in late spring and are richly scented. Will grow to 25 feet but can easily be kept 6 to 10 feet high and wide with yearly pruning. 'Compactum' is a very popular dwarf form with dense growth about 3 feet high and wide.
– A popular ornamental native to China and Japan, this tender, compact shrub or small tree has attractive glossy green foliage and fragrant, star-shaped white flowers that turn creamy yellow spring through summer. Also known as Mock Orange, the flowers have the sweet fragrance of orange blossoms. Popular as a fragrant hedge, tobira also makes a handsome screen with its dense shiny foliage. Grows 6 to 15 feet tall.
– The best of the Pittosporums for foliage, the wavy-edged deep green leaves with dark stems are prized in flower arrangements. Clusters of small bell-shaped dark purple flowers produce a delicious honey scent from late spring to early summer. Good for hedges or screens. Can be grown as a large shrub or rounded tree to 15 to 25 feet.
P. tobira 'Variegata'
– This tobira has gray-green leaves with creamy white edges that make a pleasing contrast in mixed plantings. Very fragrant, star shaped, creamy-white flowers from spring through summer. Slow growing to 5 to 10 feet high and wide.
P. tenuifolium 'Silver Sheen'
– As a neat and tidy grower, this eye-catching large shrub or tree has blackish stems and small silvery green leaves that dance in the breeze. Ideal for a privacy hedge as well as in general landscaping, 'Silver Sheen' looks wonderful as a background plant. Fragrant purple-brown bell-shaped flowers provide a nice contrast. Fast growing to 15 feet then slow to 20 to 25 feet.
P. tobira 'Wheelers Dwarf'
– This densely branched, compact shrub is just as handsome as the standard tobira but grows to only 2 ½ to 3 feet in height to form neat bushel basket size mounds useful in groundcover plantings.
P. tenuifolium 'Marjorie Channon'
– An excellent hedge plant, this compact shrub grows in a neat rounded pyramid shape. The foliage is light green and richly margined in creamy white against dark plum colored stems. Its rounded shape makes it useful for both garden beds or as an ornamental in a patio container. Slow-growing 8 to 12 feet tall.