These plants are valued primarily for their foliage and form, though they also bear clusters of small, bell-shaped, sweetly fragrant flowers in early spring, followed by fairly conspicuous fruit the size of large peas. They are basic, dependable plants with pleasing outlines when allowed to branch naturally. Prune periodically to enhance form, thinning out weak branches and wayward shoots. They make good clipped hedges. Excellent for screens, windbreaks. Susceptible to aphids and scale; sooty mold on leaves is a sign of infestation. Ripe fruit (yellowish or orange) splits open to reveal sticky seeds; fallen fruit can be a nuisance on lawns and paving.
P. heterophyllum. CHINESE PITTOSPORUM. Zones MS, LS, CS; USDA 7-9. From China. Hardier than Japanese pittosporum. Glossy, green leaves are 11 in. long and usually diamond shaped. Small, white, fragrant flowers fade to yellow. Usually grows 610 ft. tall and wide but can form a small tree up to 15 ft. if left unpruned. Tough plant. Useful as hedge or background. 'Variegatus' has small leaves edged with creamy white. Smaller growing and less hardy than species. 'Winter Frost' is similar if not identical.
P. tobira. JAPANESE PITTOSPORUM. Zones LS, CS, TS; USDA 8-11. From Japan. Dense, rounded shrub, eventually reaching 1015 ft. tall and wide if not restricted by pruning. Lower limbs can be removed from older plants to make small trees. Whorls of leathery, narrowly elliptical, shiny, dark green leaves to 5 in. long. Creamy white owers, borne at branch tips, smell like orange blossoms. Very tolerant of seacoast conditions. One of the few plants that will thrive on dunes. 'Variegatum', whitespot Japanese pittosporum, grows 510 ft. high and wide, with gray-green leaves edged in white; 'Turner's Variegated Dwarf' has the same leaf color but reaches only 23 ft. high and wide. 'Cream de Mint' forms a compact mound 22 ft. high and wide, with mint-green leaves that are edged in creamy white. 'Mojo' grows 3 ft. high and wide with dense variegated foliage. 'Wheeler's Dwarf' grows 34 ft. high and a little wider; it is not as hardy as the species (may die at 10F), but it (and other dwarf types) can be moved indoors where winters are cold (site in bright light and water sparingly while indoors).