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Kelways Guide to Pittosporums

Pittosporums are incredibly versatile shrubs performing well in both sun and shade. They make wonderful accent plants and many can be used to produce an informal hedge owing to their fast-growing foliage.

Being evergreen, they can be invaluable for adding some winter structure to the garden and with the huge variety available, there will always be something to suit every garden

Pittosporums are generally reliably hardy requiring little protection in the winter except in more extreme conditions, but a sheltered spot is normally enough.

  • Pittosporum tobira

Tha Japanese Pittosporum is a particularly common variety often found in Mediterranean areas. It has dark green leathery leaves and produces masses of highly fragrant white flowers in late spring and early summer.

  • Pittosporum tenuifolium

A New Zealand native plant that performs well in the UK. There are a number of varieties to choose from with mid-green foliage, silvery foliage, variegated forms and the popular Tom Thumb with its distinctive purplish leaves.

  • Pittosporum eugenoides

Another species to derive from New Zealand, this is probably the tallest growing variety. It produces yellow-green leaves which are curled at the edges with a bright midrib. The leaves when crushed give off a lemon-like scent and produces yellow-cream flowers in spring.

Planting and Maintaining Pittosporums

Pittosporums tend to thrive best in a sheltered position in partial shade and a heavy soil. Be careful removing the plant from its pot to minimise any root damage. Add a sprinkling of general fertiliser into the planting holw such as Bone Meal and water well.

A slow release fertiliser in spring or aged manure or composted leaves will also be of benefit.


Regular pruning will help maintain the plant's overall appearance, shape and size. The best time for pruning is after the flowering period (i.e. late spring or early summer). Use sharp secateurs to remove any dead, dying or diseased branches, then shape accordingly.

At Kelways we can offer a wide range of varieties, all available to order through our website or through the garden centre and in a variety of pot sizes from 3 litre plants to more mature plants for an instant effect. Please be aware that not all the varieties we offer may be immediately available from the garden centre, so if you are thinking of making a special trip, please call ahead to check availability, but we can usually get plants in within a few days if there is a particular variety you are after.

Some of our favourite varieties

Pittosporum tenuifolium 'Golf Ball'

A small, rounded evergreen shrub with slender black stems and bright green oval leaves. It will acquire its rounded shape naturally and so needs relatively little pruning and is a good cost-effective alternative to Buxus sempervirens or Ilex crenata.

Pittosporum tenuifolium 'Tom Thumb

Similar to Golf Ball, with the same rounded habit, but producing undulated purplish foliage contrasting with its bright green younger foliage. Pittosporum tenuifolium 'Tom Thumb' has been awarded the RHS Award of Garden Merit.

Pittosporum tobira 'Nanum'

A compact, rounded, evergreen shrub which tends to spread itself out a little. It produces very glossy, dark green leaves and in late spring and early summer will become covered in honey-scented yellow-white flowers.

Pittosporum tenuifolium 'Silver Queen

With an upright habit, this makes for an attractive plant with its greyish-green leaves, narrowly margined with creamy white. Pittosporum tenuifolium 'Silver Queen' has been awarded the RHS Award of Garden Merit.

Pittosporum tenuifolium 'Elizabeth'

Another variety with an upright habit, much like Silver Queen, but this time the greyish-green leaves are margined cream and flushed with pink. It produces very small, but fragratn dark purple, star-shaped flowered in early summer.

Pittosporum tenuifolium 'Tandara Gold'

A beautiful variety with slender black stems and small, think, leathery yellow-green leaves with dark green margins, occasionally producing small, dark purple, star-shaped flowers in late spring and early summer.