Yet another pittosporum hedge question

mattt19(10 SthrnCA)October 10, 2006

I'm looking for a shrub or a tree that I can plant as a screen along the fence line between my house and my neighbors. I recently removed a large ficus tree that acted as a screen and I need to find something to replace it. I've tentatively narrowed my choices to pittosporum tenuifolium or pittosporum silver sheen. I'm looking for a fast growing plant that will grow to about 12 ft tall and that can be kept fairly narrow ( 1 1/2 ft).

Any other recommendations ( I'm in Los Angeles if that helps).

Also, is pittosporum tenuifolium poisonous? The person at the nursery I spoke with said no, but I found a web site that said they are. My neighbor and I both have young children. Has this been a concern with anyone who's planted this?


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Pittosporum tenufolium makes a good hedge and will easily grow to 12 feet. If you can keep it to 3 feet thick I think that would be the minimum. You will have trouble keeping the lowest 3 feet dense enough for good screening. I do not believe it is poisonous, but have never eaten it. None of my five children thought it was worth eating. Al

    Bookmark   October 11, 2006 at 9:34AM
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bahia(SF Bay Area)

I would agree with Al that 1.5 feet in width is abit too narrow for Pittosporum, as it is for almost any hedge expected to grow as tall as 12~15 feet. P. tenuifolium is the more vigorous grower, so maybe the Silver Sheen would be more manageable/less regular pruning. Neither is poisonous, but both have sticky berries that can be a nuisance over paving.

For the densest growing hedge, you might want to consider Surinam Bush Cherry, even though it does get distorted leaves from a sucking insect in many locations, it is much denser and suitable to keeping narrow. You might also consider one of the clumping bamboos for a hedge, such as Bumbusa multiplex 'Alphonse Karr'. No pruning to maintain width or height, and a lacier look that only requires raking up the leaves and an occasional thinning.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2006 at 11:56AM
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Pittosporum tenuifolium 'Silver Sheen' grows lightning-fast to about 15 feet and then keeps going more slowly. It's loose and open and beautiful, but not a visual barrier if you want it to be 12 feet tall. It's often used as a hedge plant, I'm told, but just 3-6 feet tall. If you do decide to use it as a hedge, prune it back early, or it may get away from you. I have a friend who was intrigued with Ilex vomitoria for a barrier plant. It's supposed to be only two feet wide. You might check it out.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2007 at 7:39PM
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hoovb zone 9 sunset 23

I have not found the P. tenuifoliums to be that great as dense screens, they are pretty airy. P. tenuifolium 'Marjorie Channon' is very nice, pretty dense, but only about 8' tall, and again much wider than 1.5'.

When you are talking that narrow, the classic alternative is a trellis covered with a vine--you can get the height you want that way and all the privacy required combined with a really narrow profile, and quite fast--vines are often rapid growers.

Another alternative would be 'Skyrocket' Juniper or one of the dwarfier (not the species, which gets huge) Italian Cypress, 'Swanes Golden' or 'Tiny Tower', topped to the desired height. 'Tiny Tower' is a slow grower, and not cheap. 'Swanes Golden' has been faster than I expected, my 3 year olds are close to 12', and they were from 3 gallon pots.

Monrovia has a new fastigate type boxwood, 'Green Tower', I think is the cultivar name. Boxwood is always a nice screen, they claim 1-2' wide and 9' tall, look it up at the Monrovia site.

Golden Italian Cypress with Saliva leucantha and Coleonema 'Sunset Gold':

    Bookmark   October 13, 2007 at 7:59PM
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wanda(Z9 CA)

You could also look at Wax Myrtle (Myrica californica), a nice native useful for screening with glossy green evergreen leaves.

Prunus caroliniana 'compacta' is also pretty useful as a clipped screen that can be kept narrow.

I have both in my yard and the Myrica seems to be the fastest grower of the 2.


    Bookmark   October 13, 2007 at 10:23PM
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jannorcal(No CA z9)

Gail -

Thanks so much for the tip regarding the boxwood. It was very timely.
I was out today looking for hedge plants and couldn't decide what I wanted. The pittisporum tenuifolium did look too airy.
Really liked the look of boxwood, but HD and Lowes didn't have any that got tall enough. Came home to peruse the gardenweb one more time and saw your posting.
The Green Tower is perfect for my needs.
Will go to the local nursery tomorrow and see if they have it (Monrovia's website says they have ordered it).
Thanks again.


    Bookmark   October 13, 2007 at 11:16PM
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The Ilex vomitoria cultivar that stays very upright is called 'Will Flemming' I have never used it but it is an interesting selection. Other options might be Ligustrum texanum (Buy 15 gallon espalier on 5' x 5' trellis) I did this on a project last June planted them 5' OC and the plants are about 7-1/2' tall right now(where untrimmed)and about 1' thick. You could probably get them to grow to 10'maybe more. Eugenia myrtifolia is another option (Australian Brush Cherry) 'Monterey Bay' is a nice clone. Lets see- I have seen Grewia caffra get 12' tall (But it will need some support for a while until the plant gets woody enough to hold its own weight and would need some pinching to get it to be bushy enough. Sometimes you can find Magnolia grandiflora 'Little Gem' or St Mary espaliered as well- Podocarpus henkelii would be OK if you could let it go a bit thicker (like 3-4') Also Calliandra haematocephala espaliered could work. If you have shade maybe a vigorous Camellia like 'Silver Waves' espaliered in 15 gallons could work but it would be a quite a wait to get the height.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2007 at 4:53AM
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The building next door is a 3 story (tall) building with lot of stucco which does not create the best view for our 1 story residence.
We are looking for fast grower evergreen plants which go up 20 to 25 feet may be higher. We prefer a clean tree with not much mess.
We want ot plant these trees along our drive way and we don't want them to get too thick. Preferably they must go up around 8 feet without any leaves (to clear the 8 feet tall fence between 2 properties) and then open up on top to cover the next door building.
What would be our best choice?
We live in Northern California.
I really appreciate if you help me become a hero in front of my family. (I promised them I will find something to cover all that stucco).


    Bookmark   August 5, 2009 at 9:04PM
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Try Pittosporum tobira. I have one growing that I keep trimmed to about four feet tall. It is has very dense growth and I haven't watered it yet this year, It is poisonous, but who in there right mind would eat it? It has weakly fragrant flowers too.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2009 at 7:18PM
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