How To Grow A Pittosporum Hedge

Growing a pittosporum hedge is an excellent way to block out your neighbors and create privacy in your yard.

Pittosporums are fast growing and low maintenance plants that are suited to most climates.

In this article I’ll give you my best tips for growing a beautiful green pittosporum hedge in your yard.

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large pittosporum hedge

Pittosporum varieties

Pittosporum plants have evergreen foliage that can be light green to silvery gray in color depending on the variety.

There are about 200 different varieties of pittosporum and most species are native to Southeast Asia and Japan.

Some of the most popular varieties include:

Pittosporum tenuifolium Silver Sheen – a fast growing, hardy variety with silvery green foliage.

Pittosporum tenuifolium Screen Master – grows up to 3 feet (1 metre) a year and a great option for a dense hedge.

Pittosporum eugenioides Variegatum – has variegated foliage and small cream flowers during spring and summer.



Pittosporums grow well in most areas and will tolerate a wide range of temperatures. They’re also frost hardy.


Pittosporum plants grow best in full sun to partial shade.


Pittosporums will tolerate most soil types including clay soil, but they grow best in well-drained soil that is rich in organic matter.

Before planting dig some broken down manure or compost into the soil.


Pittosporums can grow up to 13 feet (4 metres) tall, but regular pruning will keep them to a manageable height.


Most pittosporum varieties can grow up to 6 feet (2 metres) wide, so space the plants at least 3 feet (around 1 metre) apart for a dense privacy hedge.


Pittosporums are fairly low maintenance and only require watering when the young plants are becoming established and during the summer months if the weather is hot and dry.


Add a slow release fertilizer once or twice a year or use a liquid fertilizer in early spring, just before the new growth appears.


Pittosporums can be grown as shrubs, small trees or privacy hedges.

If you’re skilled with pruners you can also shape them into cones, spheres or other shapes.

It’s best to prune the plants regularly to help create a thick dense hedge.

In the picture below you can see the result of over pruning a pittosporum hedge.

This is what happens when you let an inexperienced gardener loose with a hedge trimmer.

There’s very little foliage left so the bare branches will be visible for a few months until the new growth fills out the hedge.

pruning pittosporum hedge

Pests & Diseases

Pittosporum plants are fairly easy to care for but they can be affected by aphids, mealybugs, black spot and powdery mildew. [1]

It’s a good idea to check the foliage regularly for pests and you can blast them off with the hose or use an insecticidal soap to get rid of them.

If you notice any leaves affected by fungal diseases you’ll need to remove any affected branches and treat the plant with a fungicide.

Propagating Pittosporums

Pittosporums can be propagated by taking cuttings from the current season’s growth.

Take a few cuttings that are about 4 to 6 inches (10 – 15 cm) in length and remove the leaves from the bottom half of the cutting. 

Dip the cutting into rooting hormone powder or gel and plant them in a container filled with starting mix.

Place the cuttings in a well lit spot that is out of direct sunlight and keep the soil moist. 

After a few months you can move the cuttings to a bigger pot or plant them out in the garden.

pittosporum cutting for propagation

Common questions

Are pittosporums frost tolerant?

Pittosporums are frost resistant so they’re ideal for areas with cold winter temperatures.

My pittosporum hedge tolerates regular frosts, occasional snow and overnight winter temperatures of 23 °F (-5 °C) without any damage to the leaves.

How fast do pittosporums grow?

Pittosporums can easily grow up to 3 feet (about a metre) each year depending on the conditions.

Can pittosporums be planted in containers?

Yes, pittosporums can be grown in large pots that have plenty of room for the roots to spread out.

Potted pittosporums are ideal for balconies, decks, courtyards or small backyards. 

So there are my tips for growing a beautiful pittosporum hedge for backyard privacy.


Have you tried growing pittosporums in your garden? Let me know in the comments below.

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Kelly Martin

Hi, I'm Kelly Martin, a landscape gardener and designer with over 10 years experience. I have a passion for small space gardening and I love designing and creating beautiful outdoor spaces that maximize the potential of small urban gardens. Read more

This Post Has 28 Comments

  1. Norma Baggett

    The Pittosporum I inherited in my previous garden flowered one year and I was fortunate to get lots of plants from those seeds. When I moved to my present garden I planted them and they are now an 8ft high hedge. One also seeded in another part of the garden and this year it has flowered. I have collected some of the seed now and will pot it up and see what happens. Exciting!

    1. Kelly Martin

      That’s great Norma, I hope you have success with this lot of pittosporum seeds.

  2. Jackie L Crane

    Can you plant these around a pool?

    1. Kelly Taylor

      Hi Jackie, yes you can plant pittosporums around a pool to make a privacy hedge.

  3. Shirl

    Hi, I’m growing two in my balcony for privacy. They’re still small (about 1m tall) but looking healthy. How tall can they grow in a large pot (40D x 60W 45H cm)?

    1. Kelly Taylor

      Hi Shirl, they’ll probably grow another 50cm to a metre in the pots and you can trim them to keep them bushy and compact.

  4. Wei

    Hi Kelly, are the screen masters denser and taller than the silver sheens? We have read about both online but it seems that neither our landscape designer nor nearby nurseries have heard of the screen master variety. Thank you!!

    1. Kelly Taylor

      Hi Wei, the screen master pittosporums have a faster growth rate and slightly thicker stems than the silver sheens so they’re great for a fast growing dense hedge. I’m in Australia and the screen masters are available in most garden nurseries here but they may not be available in your country.

  5. Abhi

    Can these grow up to 3-4 m in large pots 65 cm diameter and 52 cm height? Would they need to be transplanted again? Thank you

    1. Kelly Taylor

      Hi Abhi, in that size pot they’d only grow about one, maybe two metres tall.

  6. Roy May

    I need to replace very large variegated pittosporums that mirrored two on the other side of our sidewalk. The existing ones are about eight feet tall but the only replacements I’ve found available are 3-gallon sizes. I need something much, much bigger–20 or 30-gallon sizes. Are these available? I live in a suburb of Houston, TX.

    1. Kelly Taylor

      Hi Roy, do you have any mature tree nurseries in your area? You could try asking at your local garden center to see if they know of someone that stocks the larger size pittosporums.

  7. LB

    I need help! I have silver sheens in various parts of our yard for a privacy hedge. They are thriving in one area, doing ok in another (likely too much shade) but I have one area that they will not grow in. We have poor clay soil there. I’ve replanted 3 different times and each time they grow to about 5 feet tall and turn brown. I’ve tried amending the soil and using material to improve drainage but no luck. I really don’t want to use a different plant as I prefer to maintain uniformity, any ideas???

    1. Kelly Taylor

      I have fairly heavy clay soil as well but my pittosporums don’t seem to mind. Is the water pooling in that area? If the soil is staying waterlogged the roots may be rotting.

  8. Luke

    Hi Kelly, we have a row of pittosporum against a fence that are almost a 2m tall. They are somewhat wild and have sparse foliage.

    Is there a way we can promote thicker foliage? We also wish to start pruning the trees to be more hedge-like.

    1. Kelly Taylor

      Hi Luke, cutting the plants back so that they can get more sunlight will help to increase the foliage growth. One of my hedges was overgrown on my neighbors side and I cut it right back to the bare branches. It looked a bit rough during the winter months but it filled out with lots of new foliage during spring and summer.

  9. Linda

    Hi Kelly,
    1. Could you please advise how often the Pittosporum Screen Master needs to be trimmed?
    2. Its purpose will be an informal hedge in troughs – 1m x 500 x 500mm h – On a covered balcony with some protection from the beach across the road – I was thinking of putting 2 x 300mm pots in each planter – do you think this would be suitable?
    Thank you

    1. Kelly Martin

      Hi Linda, You can prune pittosporum screen master hedges at least twice a year – in spring and again in late summer to keep them neat and tidy. Two plants in each planter should work really well.

  10. Shannon

    Hi Kelly

    My screen master is very sparse at the bottom with more dense leaves from the middle up. They’re only about one and a half meters high. How could I encourage them to grow more leaves at the bottom?

    1. Kelly Martin

      Hi Shannon, you can give them a feed with a slow release fertilizer to help encourage leaf growth at the bottom of the pittosporums. It might also help to prune some of the upper branches to allow more sun to reach the lower leaves.

  11. Marion

    Hi Kelly
    Our Pittosporum has grown to wide for us to manage. Can we cut the side of the hedge back. It only seems to have leaves on the very outside of the hedge. Will the sides grow back

    1. Kelly Martin

      Hi Marion, yes I had this problem with my pittosporum hedge too after I didn’t prune it for a couple of years. You can prune it back hard, but it will look bare until the new growth comes through in spring.

  12. Carlos

    how must i prune a young Pittosporum Tobira (3 to 4 months with half meter) to make a dense hedge? must i cut the top to encourage it to grow wider?

    1. Kelly Martin

      Hi Carlos, the plants will grow wider as they mature. The best way to get a dense hedge is to prune them lightly twice yearly.

  13. Carlos

    first of all, thanks for the quick help!
    when you say light prune, cutting half of the new growths is the way to go? for all the plant? or just the top?
    once again, thanks! and sorry for all these questions!

    1. Kelly Martin

      yes, just trimming off some of the new growth all over the plants

  14. Tegan

    Hi Kelly – Can pittosporum be kept at about 15″/38cm in width? I want to put them in front of a block wall but only have that much width to the walkway. Thanks!

    1. Kelly Martin

      Hi Tegan, you can keep the hedge narrow, but you’ll have to prune it every month or two during the growing season.

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