Pittosporo – Pittosporum – Pittosporum – Garden plants – Pittosporo – Pittosporum – Arbusti

The pittosporo belongs to the family of pittosporaceae.

It is a plant native to eastern Asia, Africa and Australia, from which come most of the species, which are about 150.

These are small, evergreen, semi-rustic shrubs and trees with very ornamental foliage.

They are particularly suitable for cultivation in greenhouses, in pools, but also as bushes in the gardens of the zones with mild climate; in the coastal zones they are utilized for forming hedges.

Pythophorus is a very popular and widespread shrub in our country, particularly in the central-northern regions and along the coasts. In fact, it grows very well in areas with mild winters and is also highly appreciated for its beautiful shiny persistent foliage and the flowering scent that recalls, in its sweetness, that of orange trees.


Characteristics of Pythosphorus

As we have said, the genus is extremely wide and varied, so to make a fitting description for all species is really difficult. The most common pythophores are characterized by oval or round foliage, leathery, dark green in color, with very glossy foil. The individual leaves are arranged in a crown around the branch. The flowers, in shades of white and lilac, are produced from early to late spring, depending on the variety and our climate.

They are collected in abundant corymbs and, thanks to the sweet scent they release into the air, they attract many pollinating insects (bees, butterflies, bumblebees). Once touched, they evolve, at the arrival of autumn, in capsules which, when opened, reveal very abundant seeds, which are also ornamental due to their bright red colour.


Family, genus, species

 Pittosporaceae, gen.

Pictosporum, more than 200 species

Type of plant

 Tree or shrub


 From 1 to 10 meters (in cultivation)






 Sun-half shade


 Not demanding, possibly not clayey or too poor


 Medium strength (some -12°C, others -5°C), can withstand cold winds


 Drought-resistant, benefits from frequent irrigation in summer


 Sowing, cutting


 Isolated shrub, hedge, vase

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Among the main species we remember:

Pittosporum tobira

Pitosforo tobira The pittosporum tobira comes from Japan and China, but lives easily in all mild climate zones. Typically, it reaches a height of between 2-5 metres.

The leaves are obovate, shiny and dark green.

The flowers of this shrub are yellow-cream; they are delicately scented and bloom from April to September.

Pittosporum crassifolium

Pittosporum crassifolium The pittosporum crassifolium is a shrubby species native to New Zealand.

The maximum height is 5 metres. The leaves are obovate, dark green on the upper page, white or reddish on the lower page.

The flowers are born from April to May, are brown and are followed by white and oval fruits.

Pittosporum tenuifolium

Pittosporum tenuifolium The Pittosporo tenuifolio is also a species from New Zealand. It differs from other varieties of this shrub by the shape of its leaves, which are elongated and have wavy, light green margins.

The flowers are brown and have a vanilla-like smell.

Cultivation techniques

Planting should be done at the end of April or in May. The soil must be fertile and well drained.

The position must be in the sun, even full, but sheltered from the winds.

If the pittosporum is used to form hedges, it is good to respect the distance of about 50/70 cm between one plant and another.

Pruning is carried out in April and has the purpose of restoring a shape, thinning and strengthening the plant; the branches to be cut will therefore be the most “disorderly”. Hedges are evened out every year, from April to June.


Planting in the South


Planting in the North





 After the end of flowering


 Manure in autumn, granular in spring


 Autumn, with vernalisation


 End of summer

Reproduction may be by seed or by cutting. Sowing must be carried out in March, after the seeds have been separated from the viscous substance covering them inside the fruit. The seeds must be placed in small pots, each year will be repotted. The pots, before being placed in the final resting place, are to be placed in cold chests for a period of 2-3 years. The cuttings are to be taken from the semi-ripe lateral branches, from May to June; their length must be of about 10 cm.

After their rooting, they can be repotted, always gradually, till when, in May of the following year, they can be planted in open air.

Pests and Diseases

pittosporo Particularly dangerous for the pittosporum are late frosts, which in the most serious cases can also cause the death of the plant.

The pictosforum is subject to attacks by cochineals, which however can be easily eradicated through the use of appropriate products. To be aware of their presence, it is necessary to check the leaves and check that there are no stains that could be traced back to these parasites with their unmistakable appearance. If the plant can be washed with water and neutral soap to eliminate cochineals, otherwise you can resort to the use of specific pesticide products.

Origins and uses of pythosphorus

pitosforo Pythophores are trees or shrubs originating in Southeast Asia, particularly in the temperate areas of China and Japan. The genus, which is part of the wide family of the Pittosporaceae, includes about 200 species, very different in size, appearance and appearance. In the spontaneous state, some species can become really bulky, but those in cultivation are much more manageable and some adapt to grow in containers to decorate, with the beautiful persistent leaves, balconies and terraces.

However, they can also be used in the open land: they are among the most popular essences for the creation of beautiful and compact hedges, as well as flowering. Their slow growth allows for good adaptability to space and low maintenance at the same time.

Where to place the pythosphorus

pitosforo tobiraGrowing in the open ground is certainly the one that can give the greatest satisfaction: the plant will grow faster and over time will become almost autonomous.

Pythophorus loves the sun and heat. We should therefore choose, if possible, a position facing south or west or where the plant is reached by light for most of the day or, if it is not possible, at least in the middle hours, the hottest ones.

This of course if we live in an area with mild winters; elsewhere it is important, especially in the coldest months, that the plant be lit directly from the first hours of the day and anyway for as long as possible. In any case, but especially if we live in the North or on the high ground, we must remember that the pitosforo suffers particularly when exposed to rigid winds: so we choose to place it near a wall or cover it with non-woven fabric.

On the other hand, it is very resistant to drought and salty air, typical of coastal areas: it is therefore the right choice to decorate the garden or create hedges near the sea.


From this point of view it is quite tolerant: it adapts to almost all soils except for those exaggeratedly clayey and compact. These could cause excessive water stagnation and therefore a deterioration of the root system. If this were the case, we would have to operate by removing the substrate, up to at least a depth of 50 cm.

Then, after creating a draining layer with gravel, we can replace it with a specially prepared mixture: the ideal one is obtained by mixing 1/3 of field soil, 1/3 of soil for green plants and 1/3 of river sand. If desired, we can also add a handful of well-seasoned manure.


pittosforumThe well-franked pythophores are undoubtedly very resistant to drought and are therefore very well suited to Mediterranean gardens or those areas far from water sources. However, it is true that in order to obtain a good growth and flowering it would be necessary, at least during the hottest months of the summer, to supply water quite frequently. If possible, in the absence of rain, we should irrigate abundantly at least every 7-15 days, also depending on the texture of our soil.


In order to have a (relatively) fast growth, a good fertilization is essential. A good method is to cover the foot of the plants with abundant floured manure in autumn. In addition to improving soil texture, it will protect the root system from unexpected frosts. In spring we will add a few handfuls of slow release granular fertilizer and then incorporate everything into the soil through a slight hoeing.

Protection from cold

pitosforo The cultivation in open land should be done only where the temperatures never drop below -5/-10°C, especially if prolonged. It should be pointed out that there are more resistant varieties (even at -12°C), but before planting a specimen, if we live in the North, it is good to know carefully about these characteristics.

To reduce the impact of cold on the roots, it is always a good idea to prepare a thick mulch based on plant rubble, straw or healthy leaves. The aerial part benefits from covering with special materials, especially in the case of the danger of cold winds.

Pythophorus in pots

For cultivation in containers, it is advisable to choose specially selected, moderately sized and slow-growing varieties. The volume of the pot should however be considerable: in this way we will avoid often working on the roots and it will be less likely that the earthen bread can freeze completely.


Let’s distribute water when the substratum is dry even at a depth of about 10 cm. In the spring and autumn the water can be administered rather rarely, but in the summer we pay the utmost attention, especially if we live in the southernmost areas of our peninsula.


In spring it is useful to distribute a little granular slow release fertilizer, with balanced macronutrients or at most a slight predominance of potassium.


È it is advisable to treat the pythosphorus, during the summer, as an outdoor plant. We will therefore choose an area reached every day, by at least 6 hours of sunshine.

In winter

In the northern regions it is strongly recommended to withdraw the pots during the winter months: very prolonged low temperatures can seriously damage the aerial part and the roots can suffer severe damage if the ground were to freeze completely. It is ideal to place them in a cold or even temperate greenhouse (where the thermometer is at 7°C at night). The lighting should be at least good.

If we do not have this option, we can cover the canopy with transparent plastic or several layers of non-woven fabric. The vase should be insulated with special material (rock wool, polystyrene).

We drastically reduce irrigation to avoid rottenness.


siepe di pittosforo potata Free-growing specimens do not need to be pruned, unless you want to force their renewal.

Hedges, especially formal ones, should be kept in shape as much as possible. We always intervene in spring, at the end of flowering. In this way we will have a regrowth that will allow new buds the following year.

Potted pythophores grow very slowly and generally do not need any intervention, if not minimal.

Pittosporo – Pittosporum: Pitosforo variety

pitosforo tenuifolium The species tobira, tenuifolium and heterophyllus are easily found on the market and are also available in many cultivars.

The pitosporus tobira it has a nice rounded shape, suitable for hedges. It can grow up to 10 metres and is quite rustic (down to -10°C). The leaves are elongated and shiny, while the flowers, abundant, white and yellow, are sweetly scented. Dwarf cultivars (maximum one metre high) are available, others with variegated leaves,

The pythosphorus heterophyllum is of medium size (up to 3 metres high). It has tender green leaves or very fragrant yellow flowers. Among the most rustic of all (it can stand even – 12 ° C). Also suitable for slightly shaded locations.

The pitosphorus tenuifolium grows to 5 meters and produces beautiful scented flowers, usually in bright purple. Medium rustic (down to -10°C). There are many interesting cultivars: Irène Paterson” with cream leaves with pink hues; “Tom Thumb”, up to 1 metre and bronze foliage; “Purpureum” up to 2 metres, intense purple leaves; “Silver Magic” with silvery leaves and light green and cream stripes, not very rustic. Up to 3 meters. “Silver Queen” up to 4 metres, green leaves with cream margin.

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