Pittosporum Climbing Shrubs

Pittosporum is a genus of evergreen shrubs from New Zealand and the Far East. Unfortunately only one, P. tenuifolium, is hardy in Britain, and only in warm and sheltered areas. The rest need the protection of a wall. P. tenuifolium, which is used as a hedging or screening plant in the southwest of England, can go to nearly 9 m (30 ft) in very favoured areas, but half that height is more normal. It is grown for its pretty foliage, and the various named cultivars have different coloured leaves: ‘Garnettf – variegated white and pink; ‘Silver Queen’ – variegated silver-grey, and ‘Warnham Gold’ – yellow leaves.

The small, fragrant, purple flowers are borne in May, followed by berries. P. crassifolium, 3.6 m (12 ft), is used as hedging in Cornwall. Elsewhere it needs wall protection. It flowers well only in very mild districts. P. dallii, 3m (loft), is hardier than most, but rarely flowers in this country. When it does, the fragrant white blooms are produced in July. P. tobira, 3m (loft), is a very attractive wall shrub that in May and June bears white flowers with the heavy fragrance of orange blossom. ‘Variegatum’ has silver variegated leaves.

Pittosporum Climbing Shrubs

General care: Pittosporum are rather demanding. They need a sunny site, sheltered from cold winds, and a fertile but well-drained soil. Apart from P. tenuifolium and P. crassifolium in very warm areas, they must have the protection of a wall. Plant in May, and if growing as a hedge or screen, 45 cm (18 inches) to 60 cm (2 ft) apart.

Propagation: Sow seeds in March and raise in a cold frame or greenhouse. Alternatively, take half-ripe heeled cuttings in August and root them in a 50-50 peat and sand mixture with some bottom heat.

Pests and diseases: Usually trouble-free.

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