Pittosporum tenuifolium 'Silver Sheen'

susi_so_calif(USDA10/Sunset24)August 8, 2008

I'm thinking of planting 6 5-gal plants of Pittosporum tenuifolium 'Silver Sheen' as an airy, loose hedge. If you've grown this plant, can you please let me know how much water it needs? I'd like to give it as little as possible, but don't want to kill it.

I live in zone 24, about 10 miles inland, seldom gets over 85 degrees in summer (usually under 80), and we've never had a frost here.


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It's drought-tolerant during the winter when we get average rain and cooler weather. (that's kind of a joke).

During summer, though, it will need a good soaking once a week. Not drip.

It's a New Zealand Native; not an Australian Native.

One of my favorite plants and sometimes hard to find -- me and all the other landscape architects use it regularly. It's hot.


    Bookmark   August 8, 2008 at 2:58PM
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Thanks so much for the speedy response, Joe. I think we can manage the good soaking weekly in the summer, that's pretty much what the area it is in is getting now. I saw this in a friend's garden last weekend and it was gorgeous! A local nursery has 5-gal plants in stock for $20/each, which seemed a pretty good price to me.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2008 at 3:13PM
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hoovb zone 9 sunset 23

That's a good price.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2008 at 3:20PM
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HOOVB - That's the price at Briggs Tree Nursery in Vista, but it does include a 15% discount because I'm a member of the San Diego Horticultural Society. They've got very good prices in general, and good quality stock, too. If you don't live too far it would be worth a drive to check them out.

And... if you do go... there's LOTS of other great nurseries in San Diego's North County:
Buena Creek Gardens (San Marcos)
Green Thumb (San Marcos)
Anderson's LaCosta Nursery (Encinitas)
Sunshine Gardens (Encinitas)
Barrels & Branches (Encinitas)
Cedros Gardens (Solana Beach)
Solana Succulents (Solana Beach)
These places - and many others - are sponsors of the San Diego Horticultural Society, with links on our website.

Here is a link that might be useful: Briggs Tree Company

    Bookmark   August 8, 2008 at 3:46PM
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bahia(SF Bay Area)

I'd also suggest that it performs best with dappled shade or morning sun, rather than all day sun and hot dry Santa Ana winds will not be to its liking. If it is drought stressed it is highly likely to get scale and/or mealybug attacking it, and prefers it cooler to hotter in general. Also, it is very slow growing in comparison to the species. I personally think it looks more interesting as an accent plant to light up a shady spot or blank wall, than planted out as a hedge.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2008 at 7:43PM
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Bahia ~ Darn, I was planning to have it in full sun. We usually only get Santa Ana winds here a few days each fall, so that's not a problem. My friend has some of hers in full sun, some in half day shade - they're all 10-12' in 2 years from planting in amended soil. I wasn't going to shear it to make a true hedge, but will plant 3 plants on each side of an archway at the edge of my gravel parking area.

Do you think I'm making a big mistake or am I perhaps overly optimistic?

    Bookmark   August 8, 2008 at 7:57PM
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bahia(SF Bay Area)

Your friend's experience is probably a better indicator of how this plant will do than my long distance predictions... I guess it also has to do with your feelings towards the possibilities for severe water rationing in the near future. I'm looking at erring on the side of caution rather than optimism lately. Would you also consider using something similar yet more drought tolerant such as Prostranthera ovalifolia variegata? I know it is not as long lived, and also needs more shearing, but a similar effect with less water?

    Bookmark   August 8, 2008 at 9:00PM
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BAHIA ~ Wow, what a great suggestion! Checking the plant out with a few sources I see very wide variation - one place says 4-8' tall, another says 10-12'. One says moderate water, another says drought-tolerant. They all agree it's gorgeous, however. Maybe I can use that where I planning to use the P. 'Silver Sheen', and use the P. 'SS' elsewhere in the garden. Thanks for the suggestion!

    Bookmark   August 8, 2008 at 9:34PM
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My mom has one planted in full sun up in Redding - extremely HOT for weeks on end; terribly HARD, unamended soil - but I'm not sure how much water she gives it. It has definitely been slow to grow in the 2 years or so she's had it; I'll ask her next time I talk to her. It sure is beautiful, though.


    Bookmark   August 9, 2008 at 9:36AM
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hosenemesis(SoCal Sunset 19 USDA 8b)

I have one between the compost pile and the pond. This year it lost a number of leaves during the May heat wave, so I deep watered it overnight and it has been fine since. It is in full sun now that it is taller than the shed.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2008 at 2:08PM
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angelcub(Sunset 3b)

Susi, I bought two P. Silver Sheen in the spring from Armstrong nursery in Claremont. I don't live in that area but my dad does so I often shop there. I brought them back up to my home, near Wrightwood, high elevation and cool summers like your area. I have one planted in a bed along the west wall of my garage. That area is warmer than most of my garden areas and gets reflected heat from the garage siding. It gets water twice a week from a nearby sprinkler head, about 30 minutes each time. My soil is sandy and the bed is well amended with composted chicken manure and drains well.

So far it has done extremely well. In fact it never missed a beat after being planted - no dropped leaves, no change in leaf color, no wilt. Acts like it's lived there forever. I have the other one in a bed on the NW corner of my porch. It gets lots of wind but doesn't seem to mind.

Now I have no idea if they will make it through the winter. We get into the teens at night regularly and even the single digits, with some snow. I think the one along the garage wall will be fine. The one on the end of the porch - not so sure. I may move it to the garage bed this fall. I would hate to lose it. I love the shiny and soft sagey green color of these plants!

So I say go ahead and plant some. Only I'd let them grow naturally, not trimmed into a hedge. But then I garden in a cottage style so I'm not terribly fond of trimmed up hedges of anything. : )


    Bookmark   August 11, 2008 at 12:12AM
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bahia(SF Bay Area)

I don't think either shrub's location will keep yours alive this winter, they don't like temps that go much below low 20'sF, and will already start to show damage in the mid 20'sF.

None of the various New Zealand Pittosporum species are particularly cold hardy.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2008 at 1:54AM
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DIANA - Thanks for letting me know your experience with this plant. I suspect BAHIA is correct and that you might lose them both if it's as cold as you expect this winter. Wrap those puppies up! I wonder if it would work to cut them back and pile lots of leaves or compost on them to keep the roots alive through the winter?

    Bookmark   August 11, 2008 at 2:42AM
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angelcub(Sunset 3b)

Yes, winter will be the true test. I know they are borderline for me but I just had to try them. That shimmering sagey color just said buy me, try me!! And they were on sale. : ) Plumbago doesn't winter over for me either but I had it come back in this same bed. I think the garage wall must really reflect some heat. The paint color is a buttery yellow so maybe that helps. And there is a concrete walkway next to the bed.

I have used leaves around more tender perennials in the past. I also don't cut back a lot of them in the fall like folks do in the warmer So.Cal. climes. I wait until early spring. The bed along the west wall of my house is the same. I'm on the top of a hill so I have a few crazy micro climates. It's always an adventure but I love it! : )

So are you going to try them?


    Bookmark   August 11, 2008 at 7:58PM
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hoovb zone 9 sunset 23

susi thank you for that list of plant places. I've always wanted to do a major echeveria/aloe buying trip down San Diego way, but have never gotten around to it. Maybe this fall...

    Bookmark   August 12, 2008 at 12:21AM
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I planted twelve 5G's from Brigg's at our Parks office in Carlsbad. Along with a couple of small boulders and a few Peter Pans...a stunning look. Gawd I love that plant!

    Bookmark   August 12, 2008 at 8:48AM
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I spoke with my mom up in Redding yesterday, and she said she bought it last year (not 2 years ago), and she only waters it every couple of weeks. It's grown upward more than outward, and she says it never looks bad, no matter what. :)

Good luck with it!


    Bookmark   August 12, 2008 at 10:51AM
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Thanks to all who've responded.

HOOVB - If you do come this fall try to come on the 2nd Monday of the month so you can attend the meeting of the San Diego Horticultural Society. We've got some terrific speakers lined up. See link below.

YOUREIT - You mom's plants sound just like what I want!

GONZER - I would dearly love to see them, and Carlsbad is so close to me (I'm in Vista). Can you send me the address, please, so I can drive by and check them out? Thanks!

DIANA ~ I've decided to try 3 of the Pitt. 'Silver Sheen' and 3 of the Prostranthera ovalifolia variegata. They'll all be planted in full sun with other low-water plants, and it'll be interesting to see how they do.

Here is a link that might be useful: San Diego Horticultural Society

    Bookmark   August 12, 2008 at 3:29PM
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I have had a 'Silver Sheen' for about seven years. I live in Long Beach, CA in Sunset zone 22. It grew very rapidly and is now about twenty feet tall. It is pretty and has a very light, airy habit. The tree is upright and narrowly pyramidal. After about five years, it started to get twiggy and lose leaves on the bottom, so I trimmed the bottom four or five feet, and it is a tree now- it looks good.

We have clay soils and I rarely water it. Maybe a few good soaks in the summer and never in the winter. Maybe it would fill out a bit if I watered it more, but I like how it looks, when the breeze blows it sways very gracefully. There is a link to a photo of my tree.

Here is a link that might be useful: Photo of P. 'Silver Sheen'

    Bookmark   August 15, 2010 at 7:26PM
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surfcityhb(10, Sunset 24)

I'm also in zone 24, but 2 miles from the beach. I watered my 3 silver sheens once a week the first season they were in and now they survive only on what rain comes from the sky.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2010 at 5:11AM
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I have these magnificent trees everywhere in my grounds, they are fast growers for me. But, my only problem is.....the one in the pot on the front porch after about 1.5 years is suddenly loosing leaves like mad. It is really in bad shape.
I water it well once a week. A real soak. It is full and tall in a huge planter.

Why do you think the leaves are falling in piles? Thank you so much

    Bookmark   July 12, 2011 at 7:15PM
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hoosierquilt USDA 10A Sunset 23 Vista CA(10b Sunset 23)

You might want to re-start your message with a brand new message thread, instead of tacking onto a very old one. That way, you can check off the notification box to be notified of responses. Have you checked to see if your roots are becoming waterlogged? It may be that there isn't enough drainage, and the roots have finally rotted away. I would pull this out of the pot and check out the roots to see what's going on down there.

Patty S.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2011 at 7:55PM
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This last year I planted 3 pittosporum silver sheens and they were doing beautifully until about 2 weeks ago. 2 of them lost all of their leaves...I think because we had a heat wave. Will I get new leaves or are these plants done now? I paid $35 each for them and they were part of what was to be a privacy hedge. hate to lose them.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2013 at 1:38PM
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