How To Prune Pittosporum Hedges

Pittosporums are popular hedging plants that are great for providing privacy.

They’re fast growing and can reach 13 feet (4 metres) in height but you can keep them to a smaller size with regular pruning.

In this article I’ll share my tips for pruning pittosporum hedges so you can have a beautiful dense privacy hedge in your garden.

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propagating pittosporums

How often do pittosporums need to be pruned?

Pittosporum hedges should be pruned at least two to three times a year.

The larger your hedge is, the more often you’ll need to prune it.

The best times to prune pittosporums are spring, summer and mid-fall.

Start giving the plants a light prune while they’re still young to help them grow dense foliage, instead of becoming tall and leggy.

Regular pruning will keep your hedge dense and bushy year-round. It will also improve its overall health and appearance.

pittosporum plants


Things you’ll need:

  • Pruning shears
  • Hedge trimmer
  • Hand saw or chainsaw
  • Bleach or tea tree oil
  • Ladder

Wipe down the blades of your pruning shears and any other hedge trimming equipment to avoid spreading diseases from one plant to another. [1]

You can use a solution of 9 parts water to one part bleach or tea tree oil to disinfect your equipment.

Use long handled shears or a pruning saw to remove any diseased branches or branches that are rubbing on each other.

Trim the sides of the hedge with a hedge trimmer or shears before starting on the top so you won’t have to lean over as far.

Have someone hold the ladder for you if possible.

pruning pittosporum using hedge trimmer

Trim off an inch or two of new growth, taking care to leave at least one set of leaves on each branch.

Cutting too far back into the hedge will result in bare patches throughout the hedge.

You can use a string line to get the hedge perfectly straight.

Avoid trimming the bottom of the plants if you want a tidy hedge right to ground level.

After you finish trimming the hedge, use a rake to remove any small branches or leaves from the top of the hedge to tidy it up.

You can use some of the prunings underneath the hedge as mulch and add the rest to your compost heap.

When to avoid pruning pittosporums

It’s best to avoid pruning your pittosporum hedge on extremely hot days because the new foliage can become burnt.

Also avoid pruning during the winter if you live in an area that receives frost or snow.

Pittosporum pruning problems

Take care to avoid cutting too close to the branches with your hedge trimmer.

In the picture below you can see some of the bark has been damaged from the hedge trimmer.

Mature trees will usually form a callus and recover from bark damage but younger trees may not survive.

pittosporum plant

Pittosporums that haven’t been pruned for a number of years will have thick branches so you may need a chainsaw to cut through them.

This may result in some of the branch ends sticking up above the foliage. The ends of the branches will be exposed until the foliage grows back.


So there are my tips for pruning pittosporum hedges.

With regular pruning you’ll have a beautiful dense evergreen hedge to provide privacy and shade for many years to come.

Have you tried pruning pittosporum plants 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 4 Comments

  1. Graeme Woodrow

    HI Kelly, I enjoy your blog. I live in Sydney and have four ten-year-old Pittosporum in a row alongside my side fence that I wanted to use as a hedge for privacy. However, I don’t think I have pruned them hard enough over the years because they are now 4-5 metres high with most of the foliage in the top 2 metres. My question is: can I heavily cut these plants back so they will become a full hedge approx 3 metres high in a couple of years time or should I just give up, dig them out and start again?

    1. Kelly Martin

      Hi Graeme, are the lower parts of the plants healthy looking and do they receive much sunlight? If they’re not in good condition they may not grow back well after pruning.

  2. Fiona

    Hi Graeme, how did you go? I have a 15 year old pittosporum hedge that we obviously didn’t prune hard enough after the first few years we moved into the property. We now have a metre of bare trunk, 4 metres of foliage and about 1.5 metres wide. I want to trim it all back to 1 metre wide, and about 2 metres high. Not sure if it will survive or regrow where we want it to, ie a lush hedge in time for us to sell in about 4-5 years. Interested to know your outcome.

  3. Anne

    I have exactly the same problem. The trees are at least 4 metres tall with all the foliage at the top. How can they be pruned to increase lower foliage.

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