If you have "no place to go," come here!

Plantidote of the Day 2013-02-06

twig's picture


Pittosporum tobira 'Variegata'

Variegated pittosporum

A very popular hedge here in Zone 10, although the non-variegated version is more common. Here are some interesting details from the University of Florida website:

Clusters of creamy white flowers with a fragrance similar to orange blossoms appear in spring, but they are rarely seen on shrubs because they are frequently pruned off with the regular trimming required to keep the plant in check. Flowers also get lost in the green and white foliage. It is really better suited as a small tree with lower branches removed to reveal the multi-stemmed trunk, and branches should be left unpruned to allow the flowers to show in the spring. Prune after the flower display. Careful training and pruning can create an ornamental small tree form.

So the message seems to be -- take it easy on the pruning and let the flowers have a chance. Which is interesting, because I walk past this hedge every single day and have never seen so much as one flower on it :-( There must be some overly industrious gardeners in the neighborhood. Too bad, the flowers sound like a real treat, with the orange-blossom fragrance and all. Here's what it looks like in bloom. Sweet!!

Readers, please send twig ( images and stories for the ongoing Plantidote of the Day series. In exchange, you'll win undying fame in the form of a hat tip! Plants growing in your garden, your house, or neighbor's yard, plants from the forest or farmers' market, plants you preserved, plants you prepared (wine; cider; tea; dried beans), plants you harvested (grains; chantrelles), plants you picked (flowers), plants you dried (herbs), plants you covet or hope to grow someday. Herbal remedies, propagation tips, new varieties, etc.. And if you can, include some solid detail about the plant, too -- a story, the genus and species, or where you got the seeds, or the recipe, or your grandmother gave it to you. Or challenge us with a "Name That Plant" mystery entry ... And please feel free to add corrections and additional information in the comments.

Click on the image for the full-size version. Click here to see the entire series.

No votes yet


insanelysane's picture
Submitted by insanelysane on

That's good advice. I am always on the lookout for suitable small evergreen trees besides Oleander. We forget that many of the shrubs that we work so hard to keep "in bounds" really are small trees. ( 10'-12')

How many times have I seen one of these planted in front of a first floor window and then seen it clipped and butchered just to keep it small when actual smaller growth shrubs are what are called for in that location ( like a dwarf hawthorn)
I plan to train a couple of these into small trees for use around small patios.

Thanks for the reminder.

twig's picture
Submitted by twig on

There's a small evergreen (maybe) shrub nearby that I'll photograph in the next day or two. You probably know what it is -- a remarkable chartreuse that just glows! Probably not everyone's favorite color, but it's in the entry gate area to a very snooty housing development, fwiw. It appears to stay pretty much the same size, although it could be the gardeners are seeing to that.

The poor pittosporum in the picture is exactly what you describe -- "clipped and butchered." Too bad, it would be awfully nice to walk by something that smells like orange blossoms.