Pittosporum is one of the most popular 'go to' native shrubs for hedging, shelter, shrubbery and screens. It is a very desirable shrub with dark almost black stems and lush green smallish leaves. It is very fast growing and unfussy about conditions.
Need to get privacy fast? Sick of the wind blasting across your deck? Need to hide the water tank? Need to screen out the neighbours ugly shed? Pittosporum is the answer to all these problems.
There are mainly three varieties of Pittosporums grown in cultivation in New Zealand, and there are a great many cultivars derived from these. The three main types are:
Kohuhu - Pittosporum Tenuifolium
Tarata or Lemonwood - Pittosporum Eugenoides
Karo - Pittosporum Ralphii or Pittosporum Crassifolum
Kohuhu - Pittosporum Tenuifolium - by far the most popular and versatile Pittosporum, Kohuhu is brilliant for hedging, screens and shelter. It is fast growing and will thrive from alpine to coast. Forms a rounded shrub 5m tall.
Lemonwood - Pittosporum Eugenoides - Lemonwood is the largest growing of the three and becomes a large shrubby tree approx 12m tall. Very useful for taller fast growing shelter.
Karos - Pittosporum Ralphii - A shorter shrubby tree to approx 6m. Larger leaved than Kohuhu.
Stephens Island - This appears similar to Pittosporum tenuifolium and Pittosporum ralphii and is most likely a natural hybrid somewhere in between. Highly recommended for windy coastal situations. Smaller growing, very nice foliage, and tough!
Pittosporum produces masses of small dark maroon - black flowers in spring. These are highly fragrant and are a big part of their appeal. The flowers are followed by seed pods that are very attractive to native birds. Pittosporums are also fantastic for hosting birds, with the shrubs being favorite nesting sites.
Pittosporums are diverse enough that there will be one that suits your situation or need, whether it is coastal, alpine or somewhere in between. They are generally considered hardy in most situations and are very low maintenance. They will thrive in most soils, and although they prefer moist conditions to grow very quickly they are able to withstand dry conditions.
Pittosporum respond well to clipping and shaping which is why they are so popular for hedging. A Pittosporum hedge is a lovely soft way to create a dense screen quickly. Your Pittosporum hedge will require very little pruning and care. If it does get out of hand even a very neglected Pittosporum hedge can be easily revived with a good hard prune and will look amazing in no time. There are many Pittosporum cultivars that have been bred specifically for hedging.
New Zealand native
Hedge 50cm - 3m
Lightly trim for shelter or screen 1.5m - 3m
Leave untrimmed for shrub 3-5m
Flowers - Dark maroon-black, spring-summer
Suits all conditions - full sun - shade
Thrives in damp conditions
Can tolerate drought
Stephens Island tolerates wind and coastal exposure