Genus Pittosporum is a collection of over 100 species of evergreen shrubs and small trees native to China and Japan. Often used for ornamental landscaping and manicured hedgerows, pittosporum varieties sport thick, waxy leaves and late spring blooms that emit a heady scent akin to oranges. Pittosporum, hardy in zones 8 through 10 in the United States, is a popular choice in the Pacific Northwest, New Zealand and Australia. Readily propagated by seed or cuttings, this group of ornamental beauties ranges in size from 2 to 15 feet in height.
Choose a 4- to 6-inch lateral shoot at the upper portion of the plant from which to take a cutting. Look for partially mature, firm wood with fully formed leaves from the current season's growth, starting in mid-July through early autumn.
Cut off the chosen lateral stem at the base, nearest the terminal branch. If the cutting is not going to be immediately replanted, place it in a plastic bag with moistened paper towels and refrigerate until planting time.
Remove all foliage and buds from the bottom half of the cutting.
Treat the cut end of the branch with rooting compound by dipping the cut end into the compound and tapping off any excess.
Insert 1/3 to 1/2 of the cut end of the stem vertically into the planting medium. If planting more than one cutting in the same container, allow enough space between each so that light can reach all existing leaves.
Add just enough water to moisten the potting mix and set the cutting, then cover the pot with a clear plastic bag and secure the top to form a mini-greenhouse.
Place the cuttings in a location with indirect light and mist them daily to keep the soil moist until the cuttings have rooted.
Transplant the cuttings to a new pot once they have rooted, typically 3 to 4 weeks later, and allow them to develop a stronger root system throughout the course of winter.
Test soil in permanent location, before transplant, to determine the type and dosage of fertilizer required for the newly rooted pittosporum plants. Research has shown that fertilization has little effect on foliage growth; therefore, if the planting site is already balanced, fertilizer is not required for healthy pittosporum plants.
Transplant rooted cuttings to their permanent location in the spring, after all chance of frost has passed for the location.
Dig a hole 4 to 6 inches deep and set the cutting into the hole, replacing soil and patting it down to hold the plant upright.
Water the transplanted pittosporum thoroughly to set it and then apply a 2- to 3-inch layer of mulch around the base of the plant to maintain moisture and prevent disease.
Things You Will Need
- Sharpened pruning shears
- Plastic bag
- Paper towels
- Rooting compound
- Sterile potting mix
- Clear plastic bag (large enough to cover pot)
- Rubber band
- Take cuttings in the early morning hours when pittosporum has the highest level of moisture.
- Avoid taking cuttings from stems that have buds, or remove buds after cutting, so that all energy can be focused on producing new roots.
- Dip pruning shears in rubbing alcohol to prevent transference of disease when making multiple cuttings.
- Avoid plants that show signs of disease or distress for best results.
- Do not expose cuttings to excess heat or humidity during the rooting process. If water builds up on the inside of the plastic bag, remove it and allow the plant to air out for 2 to 3 hours.
- Floridata: Pittosporum tobira
- North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service: Plant Propagation by Stem Cuttings: Instructions for the Home Gardener
- UNL Extension Horticulture: Propagation With Softwood, Semi-hardwood and Hardwood Cuttings
- University of Florida IFAS Extension: Japanese Pittosporum/Tobira Production and Use