Pittosporum: A Profile of a Shrub

By: C. Colston Burrell
Pittosporum is a

Pittosporum, a shrub native to Asia, is often called mock orange, creating considerable confusion because the plants in the genus Philadelphus also go under that name. The reason for the same common name is simple: They both smell like orange blossoms when they are in bloom.

: The pittosporum forms a densely leaved, spreading evergreen shrub or small tree that can grow up to 15 feet tall, usually less. The spoon-shaped, leathery leaves are shiny and dark green. They are borne in whorls that completely hide the stem on younger plants, although older specimens display thick, woody, contorted branches. The early spring flowers form in clusters at the end of the stems. They open white, and then turn creamy yellow. They are inconspicuous but extremely fragrant.


: Plant in full sun to heavy shade in just about any soil, including dry ones. Although overly long branches can be pruned out, this shrub does not respond well to shearing and is of little use for formal hedges.

: The pittosporum is excellent for massing, foundation plantings, or accent use. It also makes a good screen and windbreak as well as a superior informal hedge. In cold climates this shrub is often grown in tubs and brought inside for the winter.

Pittosporum related varieties: Variegata has gray-green leaves with white to cream edges. Wheeler's Dwarf is an extremely compact form, forming a mound of dark foliage.

Scientific name of pittosporum: Pittosporum tobira


Want more gardening information? Try:

  • Landscape Shrubs; find the right combination of shrubs to create the effect you want
  • Types of Shrubs; see tips for choosing the right shrub for your yard
  • Gardening; turn your garden into a lush retreat using these step-by-step instructions