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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.
P. crassifolium 

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.

P. tobira 

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.

P. tenuifolium 

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 'Cream de Mint'

A dwarf variegated mounding shrub with dense whorls of glossy mint green leaves and creamy white margins. Fresh new growth is an attractive bright lime green. Small white flowers appear in spring. Use as an informal low hedge or as an accent to other colorful plants. Slow-growing to 2 to 2 ½ feet tall 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 '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 'Golf Ball' 

This dwarf and vigorous version of P. tenuifolium has dense, bright green glossy leaves and a tidy, formal appearance. Very little pruning is required to maintain its compact and rounded shape. Small chocolate-purple flowers appear in late spring to early summer. Ideal for foundation plantings, as a specimen plant, or as a low hedge. Looks great in containers. Grows to about 2 ½ feet tall and wide.

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.

P. undulatum 

Known for its beauty, this single or multi-trunk tree has glossy green undulating leaves that form a dense domed shape. The small, creamy white flowers perfume the air in spring and then produce a fall show of yellowish-orange fruit. When grown in groups, the trees form a gorgeous background. Can also be grown as a lawn or street tree, although sticky seeds can be messy. Moderately fast growth to 15 feet, then slow to 30 to 40 feet.

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