How to Prune Pittosporum Shrubs During Winter
Pittosporum is a pleasant landscape plant. It produces small, fragrant flowers framed by attractive tapered leaves that can be used in cut flower arrangements. The pittosporum is easy to grow in a warm-enough climate and can be allowed to grow wild, where it will reach around 15 feet in height and width, or pruned into a shapely hedge and planted close to create a natural wall. The best time to prune pittosporum is in late winter before spring growth begins.
Thin the pittosporum. Use a sharp pair of pruning shears disinfected with a 10 percent alcohol solution to prune branches that no longer produce foliage or flowers, broken branches or weak branches. Prune these branches to their point of origin (back to the main branch or back to the ground).
Shear the plant to control its size and shape. Use a sharp, disinfected pair of hedge clippers or pruning shears to cut the pittosporum shrub to a desirable size. Don't be afraid to cut a lot. Pittosporum responds well to pruning and will grow back readily.
Cut spindly or thin pittosporum shrubs down to 6 to 12 inches in height (in which case you can skip steps 1 and 2) with a pair of sharp, disinfected lopping shears. Severe pruning will stimulate an explosion of new growth, and your pittosporum will grow back thicker and more bush-like.
Pittosporum (Pittosporum spp.) From compact, dwarf varieties to shrubs growing up to 40 feet tall, pittosporum can be used as a specimen plant, part of a foundation planting, as a hedge or a screen. Avoid cutting too close to the point of origin, which can remove some of the bark and cause injury. Make cuts a quarter inch from the point of origin or a quarter inch from an outward facing node on a healthy branch. Shear off one-half of the new growth in the spring. Begin hedge shaping in year three. Clip off suckers from your multi-stem tree in the fall each year to keep the trunk stems bare.
- Pruning shears
- Lopping shears
- Hedge clippers
- Clemson University: Pittosporum
- San Marcos Growers: Pittosporum Tobira 'Wheeler's Dwarf'
- Clemson Cooperative Extension: Pittosporum
- The Sunset New Western Garden Book; Kathleen Norris Brenzel, ed.
- The American Horticultural Society A to Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants; Christopher Brickell and Judith D. Zuk
- North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service: Pruning Shrubs
- Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service: Pruning Ornamental Trees and Shrubs
- Arizona Cooperative Extension: Pruning Hedges
- An Illustrated Guide to Pruning; Edward F. Gilman