Pittosporum Bonsai [Pittosporum Tobira]

Pittosporum is a flowering plant from the pittosporaceae family. The tree is indigenous to Japan and is also popularly known as the Japanese cheesewood and Japanese mock orange.

Depending on the species you grow, the pittosporum tree may grow into a large or small shrub with an average height of about 13 to 26fts and a total spread of 13fts. The Pittosporaceae tree is characterized by its leather-like, glossy green, oval-shaped leaves with wavy edges that could appear curvy ever and again.

Pittosporum tree is popular in its native country and around the world, thanks to its seemingly attractive appearance which has won the hearts of many, including Bonsai growers who plant the tree majorly for decorative purposes. You can as well do the same as long as you know the care requirements for growing a Pottosporum Bonsai plant. If you don’t, do not worry, you will be guided through the process in this guide.

General information

Common nameJapanese pittosporum
Scientific namePittosporum tobira
TypeBroadleaf evergreen
FamilyPittosporaceae
Native rangeChina and Japan
Zone9 to 10
Height10 to 15fts
Spread10 to 15fts
TolerantDrought
LeafEvergreen
FruitShowy
FlowerShowy fragrant
Bloom timeApril to May
Bloom descriptionWhite
MaintenanceLow
SunFull sun to partial shade
WaterMedium
FertilizerGeneral multi-purpose fertilizer
SoilMoist but well-draining

Can I Bonsai Pittosporum tree?

Pittosporum Bonsai?? | Will It Work? | Poor Man's Bonsai

Yes, you can Bonsai Pittosporum tree. There are several reasons why you should consider Pittosporum as your choice for the Bonsai specimen.

  1. They are fast growers, which means within a few years of planting, you will start seeing results for your labor.
  2. Even though they require nourishment and attention just like other Bonsai plants, they require minimal maintenance as they are flexible with most of their requirements.
  3. Since the Pittosporum tree is a flowering plant, you can plant them close to your balcony or terrace as decoration. And with that, you get to enhance the outlook of your indoor or outdoor setting, while also honing your gardening skills.

Is Pittosporum tree easy to Bonsai?

Yes, it is easy to Bonsai a Pittosporum tree. Aside from being a fast grower, Pittosporum also requires low maintenance to survive, meaning, you do not have to be fussy about their care requirements. However, with that being said, you do not have to be complacent either because you may also suffer consequences for inadequacy.

Pittosporum Bonsai history

The first mention of a Pittosporum species appeared in the logging, ‘the botanical cabinet’ that was published in the year 1832 by William lodiggies and George lodiggies.

George Bentham combined Pittosporum angustifolium with Pittosporum ligustrifolium and Pittosporum philyreoides which later split in the year 2000 revision of lodiggies. Today, you can only see the real Pittosporum philyreoides in a small coastal area of northwestern Australia.

Pittosporum scientific name

The scientific name of Japanese Pittosporum is Pittosporum tobira

What does Pittosporum look like?

The pottosporum tree is a shrubby plant with a round and compact shape. You can easily recognize them with their medium to slow-growing bushes, and whorled leaves that are usually glossy green or variegated white.

The plant produces clustered, creamy-white and fragrant flowers at the edge of its stem. At maturity, the tree can reach up to 12fts in height and reach about an 18foot spread.

Is Pittosporum native to Australia?

No, not all tree species belonging to the genus Pittosporum are native to Australia. The origins of these species of plants spread across eastern Asia, Oceania, Australasia, and some parts of Africa. For specificity, Pittosporum undulatum is native to eastern Australia.

Pittosporum Bonsai care

It is very easy to train a Pittosporum tree as a Bonsai specimen, and trust me, you are going to enjoy every bit of the process.

However, just like I said earlier, even though they may be easy to grow, do not be complacent with their treatment because doing so may impact negatively on the tree. In succeeding sections, you will find details on how to properly care for your Pittosporum tree.

Pittosporum Bonsai temperature

A Pittosporum tree requires a moderate temperature level of about 20°C to survive. Although the tree can tolerate anything below that standard, it is best to keep the temperature at that level for your Pittosporum tree.

Pittosporum Bonsai fertilizer

You need to feed your Pittosporum Bonsai adequately with fertilizer to keep it healthy and beautiful. You must fertilize your Pittosporum Bonsai because this kind of tree species prefers to grow on a limited amount of soil where nourishments can be easily washed away.

The best fertilizer for this kind of tree is a general multipurpose liquid fertilizer. Dilute the fertilizer to half its strength and feeds it to your tree once a month. However, during winter, your Pittosporum tree will need to be fed more.

Your Pittosporum tree will also benefit a lot from applying fertilizers to its leaves as it will contribute immensely to the overall growth of the tree.  Fill up water-soluble fertilizer in a spray bottle and apply it bi-monthly to the leaves to keep them lush and healthy.

Pittosporum Bonsai pruning

There’s absolutely no difference between your potted Pittosporum tree and that tree of the same species growing on a landscape in the park or the forest.

The only difference between them is that your potted tree will be shorter. This is only possible because their growth is usually cut back through the process called pruning. Cut back all new growth where it becomes necessary. However, it is advisable to leave some branches and leaves behind so that your tree does not become naked.

Pittosporum Bonsai repotting

You should repot your Pittosporum Bonsai periodically when you noticed that the root system has almost occupied the whole container. It is best to repot a Pittosporum Bonsai after two years to facilitate a compacted root system and this should be done during midsummer.

Remove the tree together with the soil in the pot. Shake off all extra soil and prune the roots if necessary. However, you should avoid heavy pruning, prune only about 1/4 of the total mass of the root system.

After you are done with the process, you may decide whether to replace the pot with a new one or not. Whichever way you choose, just make sure the pot encourages proper drainage. If unsure, you can put some gravel at the base of the pot, this will ensure that water drains faster without creating waterlog. Place soil on the gravel layer afterward.

Also, another key factor to consider when repotting your pittosporum Bonsai is the soil. Repot your Bonsai in good quality, well-draining, and highly nutritious soil. Fill the pot with the soil and water afterward. To water your Pittosporum Bonsai the right way, soak the pot in a vessel with water filled to the brim. You can cover the pot with moss to prevent erosion.

Pittosporum Bonsai pest and diseases

When it comes to pests and diseases, you may want to be extra vigilant with your Pittosporum Bonsai tree because every one of them is vulnerable to infection from various insects and pests. You will be duly informed about the various kinds of diseases that affect the pittosporum tree below.

1. Leaf diseases

Most times leave diseases are caused by fungi and once the leaves become infected, they change color and become unsightly. Fortunately, fungi infection can be easily controlled by applying fungicides specifically made for Pittosporum.

If your tree is suffering Angular leaf spots, you can readily identify the infection by the yellow or tan spots on the surface of your tree foliage. It is an Alternaria leaf spot, at their early stage, they look like an Angular leaf infection, however, with time, the tension of the tree grows into a necrotic center, then becomes crinkled.

2. Bark diseases

Bark diseases on the other hand are caused by viruses. These viruses will create tough bark on both the bark of your tree and its stems. Sometimes, The infected parts of the bark will appear higher than other non-infected parts and in some cases, encircle the bark and stems preventing nutrients from reaching other places that are not infected.

This infection may lead to death or stunted growth. Unfortunately, there is no known cure for this infection and if your tree becomes infected, your best bet will be to remove it.

3. Stem or branch disease

The fungal disease attacks the Pittosporum tree by infecting injuries on branches and stems and that is why it is important for your not to scar or mark your tree during wiring. Fortunately, this can be prevented by spraying your tree regularly with fungicide. However, once your tree becomes infected, the best solution would be to trim off the affected parts to curb their spread.

If your tree is affected by Corticium limb blight, the first sign you will notice on your tree are orange stains on affected spots, then the leaves of your tree will start to wither and at this stage, if you fail to do what is necessary, your tree may die.

Pittosporum Bonsai soil

Pittosporum Bonsai loves being raised in moist but well-draining soil.

Do pittosporum like wet soil?

Yes, Pittosporum prefers wet soil. For your Pittosporum to survive, it has to be kept wet until it has an established root system. However, as much as your tree would love to stay in moisturized soil, it does not like being soaked either, so you must find a way of keeping it moist without getting it soaked.

Will Pittosporum grow in clay soil?

Yes, pittosporum will grow in clay soil. The truth is, that pittosporum can be cultivated on any type of soil and they have been cultivated successfully on clay soil. What matters here is how to get the soil to stay moist without getting it soggy.

Pittosporum Bonsai watering

Pittosporum is a water-loving plant, and therefore, it must be watered regularly. Once you notice the soil is drying, water it immediately to avoid impending danger. You must always see to it that the soil does not completely dry. If you are not sure of how to get the soil of your tree moist without getting it soaked, you should use a moisture meter.

Alternatively, you can embrace the policy of watering the soil once the water starts running out of the drainage hole.

Pittosporum Bonsai sunlight requirement

During summer, keep your Pittosporum Bonsai in the part of the house with the brightest and most sunlight because they are sun-loving plants. During the nighttime, when the temperature drops below 45°, you should take your Pittosporum indoors to prevent it from being harmed by the harsh weather.

In wintertime, although Pittosporum is drought tolerant, however, once the temperature starts to drop below 50°, it is best to take your tree indoors to keep it safe from the weather. Place it on a south-facing window or a place facing east or west.

You can place it on a north-facing window too, just make sure you have an artificial light readily available to provide the tree with the much-needed light. You must make sure your Pittosporum Bonsai tree receives at least 6 to 5 hours of sunlight per day.

Pittosporum Bonsai species

There are about 200 species of trees I’m the pittosporum genus. However, only a few are known to be used as Bonsai. You will find a brief discussion about these species in the subsequent section, keep reading for details.

Pittosporum undulatum Bonsai

Pittosporum undulatum

Pittosporum udulatulatum is a plant species from the Pittosporaceae family. The tree, also known as the sweet pittosporatum is considered invasive to Australia, South Africa, Southern Brazil, Azores, and Caribbean Hawaii. The tree is a fast grower and can grow up to about 49 ft in height and is known for its evergreen leaves that are shaped like a lance and have wavy margins.

Japanese pittosporatum Bonsai

Cheesewood (Japanese Pittosporum) Bonsai

The Japanese pittosporatum is also known as the mock orange or Australian laurel is an evergreen plant belonging to the family of pittosporaceae.

The tree is characterized by its leather-like, Spoon-shaped leaves, clustered white scented flowers, as well as its dense spreading foliage. The tree can grow up to about 13fts in height and reach a total width of about 8fts.

Variegated Pittosporum Bonsai

How to grow Variegated Pittosporum (Japanese Mock Orange) with a detailed description

The variegated Pittosporum also known as the Pittosporum Tenuifolium is a tall rounded evergreen plant or small tree characterized by its attractive, rounded, small, gray-green leaves, with wavy edges that have a cream white margin.

The tree produces luminous and dense variegated leaves throughout the year and can grow up to about 12ft tall in height and reach about 8ft in the spread.

Is pittosporum toxic to dogs?

No, the species of trees from the Pittosporum genus are not toxic. All the plant species belonging to the same family as Pittosporum tobira pose no threat to the safety of your pet whether it be dogs or cats. In fact, these plants are often considered as being pet friendly on several gardening sites.

Can Pittosporum Bonsai be transplanted?

Yes, you can transplant Pittosporum Bonsai. By transplanting Pittosporum Bonsai, you will not only be creating enough space for the root to grow, but you will also benefit from it. You can save money from it! However, you should know that the larger your tree, the more difficult it becomes to transplant.

Can Pittosporum Bonsai be grown from cuttings?

Yes, you can propagate Pittosporum Bonsai from cuttings. You can propagate your Pittosporum Bonsai using the hardwood cuttings of a matured pittosporum tree. However, the best time to get your cuttings is between mid-July to early fall.

How to Bonsai Pittosporum tree from seed

You can Bonsai your pittosporum Bonsai using different techniques. However, the most popular method is propagating by seed. You will see how you can go about the process below.

  1. Collect the colorful inner seed of matured Pittosporum Bonsai around late summer to early fall.
  2. Get a seed tray or shallow rectangular container, and check if it has a drainage hole at the bottom. If it doesn’t create 4 to 5 drainage holes using a knife or a drill and a quarter-inch drill bit.
  3. Create a mixture of coarse sand and compost in a ratio of 1 to 1. Thorough mix these materials together until they blend well. Fill the container with the soil till it reaches about 2 inches deep. Smoothen the top surface of the soil using your fingers.
  4. Place the seeds on the surface of the soil, ensuring that there are at least 1 to 2 inches between each.
  5. Liberally sprinkle a layer of compost of about half or a quarter inch on the seed until the red or orange coloring of the seeds becomes unnoticeable.
  6. Water the soil until it becomes damp and you see water coming out from the bottom of the pot.
  7. Keep the topsoil damp by constantly watering it. Your seed should germinate in 8 to 12 weeks.
  8. When the seeds develop at least two leaves, transplant each into a gallon-sized pot containing potting soil.

Will pittosporum grow back after a freeze

No, pittosporum will not grow back when it freezes. Unlike other plant species that put out new growth after freezing Pittosporum will not.

Does Pittosporum Bonsai have flowers?

Yes, Pittosporum Bonsai have flowers. Pittosporum Bonsai produces small creamy white flowers from March to May.

Is pittosporum fast-growing?

Yes, Pittosporum is a fast-growing plant. One of the major reasons why pittosporum is often recommended to inexperienced Bonsai growers is the fact that they are fast growers. A pittosporum species can add up to about 24 inches to its original height in a growing season.

How high can pittosporum grow?

A matured pittosporum Bonsai can grow up to about 12fts in height and reach about 18 feet spread.

How long do pittosporum Bonsai trees live?

If you adequately care for your pittosporum Bonsai, it should live up to about 50 to 80 years.

Can Pittosporum Bonsai be grown indoors?

Yes, pittosporum Bonsai will grow indoors. It doesn’t matter whether you are cultivating your Pittosporum Bonsai indoors or outdoors, they will survive. If you are planting it indoors, just make sure they are adequately cared for. For example, they must be fed with water, sunlight, and fertilizer on time.

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