How to Grow Pittosporum Tobira

How to Grow Pittosporum tobira | Japanese Pittosporum Care

Fragrant flowers and attractive foliage are some of the virtuous traits of pittosporum tobira. Master how to grow pittosporum tobira, an extremely tolerant plant, with this detailed article.

Pittosporum tobira in large container outdoor

Botanical Name: Pittosporum tobira

Common Names: Japanese Cheesewood, Tobira, Japanese pittosporumAustralian laurel, Mock Orange

USDA Zone: 8-11

Pittosporum tobira is an evergreen shrub that’s widely cultivated as a landscape or hedge plant. It also creates instant drama in a container with the attractive foliage that accents the surrounding. Once established, tobira is very tolerant and can undertake spells of drought, heavy pruning, and even salt sprays. Although it can grow to around 6 to 10m tall when mature, you can keep it to a much smaller size with pruning or by growing it in the container. It also produces clusters of creamy white fragrant flowers, which are followed by small spherical fruits. Check out all there is to know regarding how to grow pittosporum tobira in this post.

How to Grow Pittosporum tobira

Buy the plant from a nursery or any trusted online source, or you can propagate it yourself. Grow it as a landscape, hedge, or border plant, but you can grow it in containers as well. You can choose from a wide range of It has a wide range of tolerance when it comes to lighting, soil and other factors. The only thing to watch out for is watering, as it does not like to sit in water and will succumb to root rot with prolonged overwatering. Regular pruning is required to keep it in the desired shape and regulate its size.

Propagate Japanese Cheesewood

You can either propagate Pittosporum tobira from seed or from cuttings, among which propagation from cutting is easier. The ideal time to propagate is in the spring or early summer. Here are the detailed steps to propagate tobira by cutting.

  1. Take a semi-hardwood cutting (6-10 inches) from a healthy stem below the leaf node.
  2. Remove the leaves from the bottom half of the cutting so that more energy is directed towards rooting.
  3. To fasten up the rooting process, you can use the rooting hormone, although it’s an optional step.
  4. You can plant the cutting in a pot or directly in the backyard if you plan to grow it as a landscape plant.
  5. Make sure the medium is well-draining and keep the keep it slightly moist.
  6. Within 4-6 weeks, the roots will start to form, and once the root ball is established, you can transplant it to a large pot.


Tobira can grow in a wide range of lighting but thrives under full sun to partial shade. Locate it near a south-facing window, patio, porch or well-lit balcony where it receives bright indirect light. Outdoors you don’t have to fret about the location and can place it anywhere.


It’s not choosy when it comes to potting medium but make sure that the medium is well-draining. It prefers slightly acidic to neutral soil with a loam texture. One way to prepare the mix is to add equal quantities of garden soil, manure, peat, and coarse sand. As long as the mix is well-draining, it’ll do fine.


The only thing to keep in mind when watering pittosporum tobira is that less is more. It doesn’t like wet feet, so do not overwater under any circumstance. As it’s drought tolerant when established, so it’s better to skip watering when unsure. A good rule of thumb is to wait when the top one inch of the soil becomes dry before watering.

How to Grow Pittosporum Tobira in Container

Pittosporum tobira in pot

Care requirements for growing pittosporum tobira in the container are not different from growing it in the backyard. Smaller tobira varieties such as pittosporum ‘Mojo’ or ‘Wheeler’s Dwarf’ are well suited for pots. Planter size can range anywhere from 12-20 inches in depth, depending on the cultivar. Locate the pot at a spot where the plant receives direct or bright filtered light indoors or outdoors. It’s a slow grower, so frequent repotting is not needed. Usually, it takes 2-3 years for tobira to outgrow the pot; by then, you can transplant it to a pot that’s one or two sizes large.


In the indoor space, it’s better not to let the minimum winter fall below 40 degrees F. As it grows from zone 8 to 11, it can tolerate even lower temperature ranges of around 20 degrees F outdoors. In regions where it’s not winter hardy, grow it in a container and move the pot indoors in winters. Its heat tolerant, so there is hardly any need to worry about the maximum temperature range.

Pittosporum tobira Care

Pittosporum tobira blooms close-up


Pruning Japanese Cheesewood is essential, especially if you wish to grow it as a hedge plant or in containers. It can grow large when left unchecked, so use sharp shears to cut back the stems in springs and summers. Plan your annual pruning right after, not before flowering, so it doesn’t affect flowering adversely.


It’s not a heavy feeder, so don’t worry if you are a bit more relaxed about it. An all-purpose slow-release fertilizer used in the spring can benefit the plant in the long run. Adding aged compost or fish emulsion to the mix are some organic ways to increase nutrient availability.

Pests and Diseases

Common garden pests such as mites, aphids, and mealybugs can cause some level of damage to the foliage. You can handpick these pests or spray neem oil solution to get rid of them if the infestation gets out of hand. Root rot occurs due to overwatering for a prolonged period. Also, be on the lookout for bacterial blight and leaf spots.

Japanese Pittosporum Toxicity

We have a piece of good news on this front as pittosporum tobira is non-toxic in nature. So, it’s safe to keep it around cats, dogs and children!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.