Pittospore - Pittosporum

Pittospore - Pittosporum


The pittospore belongs to the pittosporaceae family.

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

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

They are particularly suitable for growing in greenhouses, in tubs, but also as bushes in the gardens of areas with a mild climate; in coastal areas they are used to form hedges.

The pittosporum is a much loved and widespread shrub in our country, in particular in the central-northern regions and along the coasts. In fact, it grows very well in areas characterized by mild winters and is, on the other hand, highly appreciated for its beautiful persistent glossy foliage and very fragrant flowering that recalls, in its sweetness, that of orange trees.

Characteristics of Pitosforo

As we have said, the genus is extremely wide and varied, so making a description that fits all species is really difficult. The most common pittosporums are characterized by oval or round, leathery, dark green foliage with a very shiny lamina. The individual leaves are arranged in a crown around the branch. The flowers, in shades of white and lilac, are produced from the beginning to the end of 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 they have faded, they evolve, upon the arrival of autumn, in capsules which, when opened, reveal abundant seeds, also ornamental due to their bright red color.

Family, genus, speciesPittosporaceae, gen. Pittospore, more than 200 species
Type of plantTree or shrub
Dimensions1 to 10 meters (in cultivation)
ExposureSun-half shade
GroundNot demanding, possibly not clayey or too poor
RusticityModerately resistant (some -12 ° C, others -5 ° C), it fears cold winds
IrrigationResistant to drought, it benefits from frequent watering in summer
PropagationSowing, cutting
UseIsolated shrub, hedge, pot

Pittosporum tobira - Pitosforo tobira">Among the main species we remember: Pittosporum tobira - Pitosforo tobira">Pittosporum tobira

The pittospore tobira comes from Japan and China, but lives easily in all areas with a mild climate. Generally, it reaches a height that varies between 2-5 meters.

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

The pittospore crassifolium is a shrub species native to New Zealand.

The maximum height is 5 meters. The leaves are obovate, dark green on the upper side, white or reddish on the underside.

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

Pittosporum tenuifolium

The Pittospore tenuifolio is a species also coming from New Zealand. It differs from other varieties of this shrub for the shape of the leaves, which are elongated and have wavy margins of light green color.

The flowers are brown and give off a smell similar to that of vanilla.

Cultivation techniques

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

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

If the pittosporum it 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 giving back a shape, thinning and strengthening the plant; the branches to be cut will therefore be the most "disordered" ones. The hedges are leveled every year, from April to June.

Planting in the SouthAutumn
Planting in the Northspring
PruningAfter the end of flowering
FertilizationManure in autumn, granular in spring
SowingAutumn, with vernalization
CuttingSummer end

Reproduction can take place by seed or by cutting. Sowing must be done in March, after the seeds have been separated from the sticky substance that covers them inside the fruit. The seeds must be placed in small pots, repotting every year. Before being placed permanently, the pots must be placed in cold boxes for a period of 2-3 years. The cuttings are taken from the semi-mature lateral branches, from May to June; their length must be about 10 cm. After their rooting, they can be repotted, always gradually, until, in May of the following year, they can be planted outdoors.

Parasites and Diseases

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

The pittosforum is subject to attacks by scale insects, which however can be easily eradicated thanks to the use of special products. To notice their presence it is necessary to check the leaves and verify that there are no spots that could be traced back to these pests with an unmistakable appearance. If the plant can be washed with water and neutral soap to eliminate the scale insects, otherwise it will be possible to resort to the use of specific pesticide products.

Origins and uses of pittosporum

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

However, they also find many uses in the open ground: they are among the most popular essences for the creation of beautiful and compact hedges, as well as floriferous. Their slow growth allows at the same time a good adaptability to spaces and low maintenance.

Where to place the pittosporum

The cultivation in the open ground is certainly the one that can give greater satisfaction: the plant will grow faster and over time will become almost autonomous.

The pittosporum loves the sun and the heat. We will therefore have to choose, if possible, a position facing south or west or where the plant is reached by the light for a good part of the day or, if not possible, at least in the central hours, the hottest ones.

This of course if we live in an area with mild winters; elsewhere it is important, especially in the colder months, that the plant is lit directly from the first hours of the day and in any case 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 pittosporum suffers particularly if exposed to harsh winds: we therefore 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 brackish air, typical of coastal areas: it is therefore the right choice for decorating the garden or creating hedges near the sea.


From this point of view it is quite tolerant: it adapts to almost all soils except those that are exaggeratedly clayey and compact. These could cause excessive water stagnation and therefore a deterioration of the root system. If this were the case we will have to operate by removing and extracting the substrate, up to at least a depth of 50 cm. Later, 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 earth, 1/3 of soil for green plants and 1/3 of river sand . If desired, we can also add a few handfuls of well-seasoned manure.


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


To have a (relatively) fast growth, one cannot ignore a good fertilization. A good method consists in covering, in autumn, the foot of the plants with abundant floured manure. In addition to improving the texture of the soil, it will protect the root system from any unexpected frosts. In spring we will add a few handfuls of balanced slow-release granular fertilizer and then we will incorporate everything into the soil by means of a light hoeing.

Cold protection

Cultivation in the open ground should only be carried out where temperatures never drop below -5 / -10 ° C, especially if prolonged. It must 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 carefully inquire about these characteristics.

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

Potted pittosporum

For container cultivation it is recommended to choose specially selected varieties, modest in size and slow growing. The volume of the pot must however be considerable: in this way we will avoid operating often on the roots and it will be less likely that the earthen bread will freeze completely.


We distribute water when the substrate is dry even at a depth of about 10 cm. In spring and autumn the administrations can be quite rare, but in 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 slow release granular fertilizer, with balanced macronutrients or at most a slight preponderance of potassium.


It is advisable to treat pittosporum, 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 highly recommended to withdraw the pots during the winter months: very prolonged low temperatures can seriously damage the aerial part and the roots can suffer serious damage if the earth freezes completely. Ideal is to place them in a cold or even temperate greenhouse (where the thermometer settles at 7 ° C at night). The lighting must be at least good.

If we do not have this possibility, we cover the hair with transparent plastic or several layers of non-woven fabric. The vase, on the other hand, should be insulated with a suitable material (rock wool, polystyrene).

We drastically reduce irrigation to avoid rotting.


Specimens that grow freely do not need pruning, unless you want to force them to renew.

Hedges, on the other hand, especially if they are formal, must be kept as fit 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 pittosporums grow very slowly and generally do not need any intervention, if not minimal.

Pittosporo - Pittosporum: Pitosforo variety

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

The pittosporum tobira it has a nice rounded habit, suitable for hedges. It can grow up to 10 meters and is quite rustic (down to -10 ° C). The leaves are elongated and shiny, while the abundant white and yellow flowers are sweetly scented. There are dwarf cultivars (maximum one meter in height), others with variegated leaves,

The pittosporum heterophyllum it is of medium size (up to 3 meters high). It has beautiful soft green leaves or very fragrant yellow flowers. Among the most rustic of all (withstands even - 12 ° C). Also suitable for slightly shaded locations.

The pittosporum tenuifolium it grows up to 5 meters and produces beautiful fragrant flowers, usually in bright purple. On average rustic (up to -10 ° C). There are many interesting cultivars: Irène Paterson ”with cream leaves with pink hues; “Tom Thumb”, up to 1 meter and bronze foliage; "Purpureum" up to 2 meters, deep purple leaves; “Silver Magic” silver leaves with light green and cream streaks, not very rustic. Up to 3 meters. "Silver Queen" up to 4 meters, green leaves with cream margin.

Video: Pittosporum Diseases (October 2021).