Pittosporum is an evergreen plant that can be used as a fence in gardens. This plant can be grown into hedges and will look awesome!
They are excellent alternatives to boxwood hedges if you live in warmer climates(USDA Zones 8-11). The common hedging variety is called Silver Sheen.
Pittosporum has a nice silvery tint to it. The plant has long branches and dances glamorously in the wind. Silver sheen can be used in various ways. It is a versatile garden shrub.
What is killing my Pittosporum?
Pittosporum may get sick/die due to many reasons. Pittosporum shrubs are affected by Root rot, Myoporum thrips, and Shield bugs. They can also be infested by Spider mites.
Watering is a very important factor for a Pittosporum to thrive. Overwatering and Underwatering cause a lot of issues in Pittosporum.
Diseases of Pittosporum
Almost all plants are prone to diseases. Pittosporum experiences some issues too. Pittosporum is commonly affected by Root rot and Myoporum thrips.
Other disorders are also seen when proper care is not taken when planting/watering.
Let’s see what diseases/disorders affect Pittosporum and how to fix them.
Pittosporum Root Rot
Root rot is commonly seen in Silver Sheen plants. Root rot is seen when the plant is in soggy, waterlogged soil.
Such conditions favor the growth of Rhizoctonia fungus. Root rot is also caused by Pythium.
Pittosporum leaves wilting
Plants will wilt and die. If you see wilting and dropping of the leaves, you can be sure it is Root rot.
Browning of the leaves is seen and the branches will die from the tip to back.
Pittosporum Root Rot Treatment
If you want to prevent root rot in Pittosporum, you need to make sure the soil has good drainage. Do not overwater the plants. Cut off the infected leaves/branches as soon as you see them.
With good drainage, adequate sun, and healthy soil, you can revive the Silver Sheen.
You may have heard of chemicals to treat root rot. You need to contact your regional agricultural/horticulture officer to find out the type of fungus affecting your plant and treat it accordingly.
Pittosporum Leaves Curling
Do you see curled leaves in the upper branches of your Silver Sheen? The leaves become curled/bumpy and the plant growth will be stalled.
This happens when the plant is affected by Myoporum thrips. They are commonly seen on Myoporum plants, but they can also affect Silver Sheen.
To treat: Use Bayer Advanced Tree and Shrub on the affected plants. Use one 32oz bottle if the plant is medium-sized or use according to the instructions.
Treat the affected plants twice a year. You can revive the plant if you use this solution early. Check for signs of thrip infection and act early.
After the application of this chemical, you’ll see the growth of new foliage and minimal thrip damage to the plant.
Pittosporum leaves turning brown
Pittosporum is one such plant where you need to closely monitor the plant for watering issues. It is not happy with underwatering or overwatering.
Sometimes people may see browning of Silver Sheen leaves. This happens when the plant doesn’t get enough water.
If the root system of the Pittospora goes dry, it will respond by reducing foliage. Water the plant abundantly. Watering twice a week deeply works well rather than frequent shallow watering.
How to get rid of the Pittosporum Shield bug?
Pittosporum is often infested by shield bugs which are also called stink bugs. They are called stink bugs because they give out an odor when touched/caught.
They eat away leaves and stems causing considerable damage to the plant. You’d want to get rid of them.
How to treat:
- Use sticky cards to know their presence.
- If you want to control these bugs biologically, introduce Ladybugs, Lacewing, and Minute Pirate bugs.
- Spray Kaolin clay wherever you think there will be pest growth. Kaolin clay will irritate the shield bugs so much that they’ll flee.
- Insecticidal soap and Neem oil are especially effective in the early stages of infection.
Spider mites on Pittosporum
Spider mites also love to hang around your Silver Sheen plants. The presence of webs is often a sign of their presence.
Two-spotted spider mites are the usual pests that attack Pittosporum. They come along with bedding or other infested plant material.
Early identification of spider mites infestation is key to controlling their population. It becomes hard to control them once they establish themselves.
You can find them in stippled and distorted leaves. Similar symptoms can be found in thrip and leafhopper infestations.
Spider mite infestation is significantly found in the undersides of leaves.
Tip: Hold a white paper under distorted leaves and tap the upper part of the leaf. If the mites are present, they’ll fall on the paper.
How to get rid of Spider mites
It is not at all easy to control Spider mites. It’s best to control the infestations early on. When buying new plants inspect the underside of the leaves for spider mites.
Now, to get rid of spider mites,
- Spray the affected plant with a strong stream of water via a garden hose. You will be able to dislodge many mites this way. The stream of water should be directed at the lower side of the leaves.
- If you want to go the biological control route, consider adding Lacewings, predatory gall-midges, and a variety of predatory mites to your affected plants.
- You can also use Miticides to control spider mite infestation.
Pittosporum Sudden Death
People mail me sayin’ that their Silver Sheen plant died all of a sudden. I looked into all of them and found a common cause. Watering.
How often do you water your Pittosporum?
If you want the best for your plant, water consciously. Water your shrub according to the evapotranspiration rate.
Calculate this in your area and replenish the plant with 50% of this rate. Deepwater your Silver Sheen once a month in fall and spring, twice in summer.
Watering too often leads to root rot. Root rot if not attended quickly will lead to sudden death. So, water less often but water deeply!
To control root rot: Apply a 1/4 inch layer of gypsum around the base of your Silver Sheen and then 3-4 inches of mulch. Do this once in spring and then again in fall.
If the plant is affected already, use Aliette to treat it.
Pittosporum leaves turning yellow and dropping
Leaves of Silver sheen become yellow and drop when the plant can’t absorb essential minerals. Such signs are seen when the root system fails to function.
This happens often when the plant is rootbound. Check the root system and see what’s wrong.
If there are established trees nearby they might be robbing of your plant’s soil nutrients. This is also seen in some cases of Root rot.
So, identify the problem and fix it accordingly.
Frequently Asked Questions
People that follow my blog mail me the same questions over and over again. I thought, why not answer then here and make it easy for beginner gardeners.
How often do you water Pittosporum?
I water them once a month in fall and spring and twice a month in summer. I give deepwater them with 2 inches of water in spring and fall.
In summer I deepwater them two times a month. Water fewer times but deeply!
Can Pittosporum grow in shade?
Silver Sheen shrubs are versatile, they can play various roles in a garden. It is not selective when it comes to lighting. It can grow in partial shade and full sun.
Will pittosporum grow in clay soil?
I’ve seen Silver Sheen grow in clay soil. Make sure you water the plant consciously though. You don’t want it to get waterlogged and to get affected by root rot.
It’s better to grow the plant in well-drained soil.
Can you prune Pittosporum in summer?
Yes, you can prune Silver Sheen in summer. You can start pruning in their second or third year of growth.
Cut new branches by one-half and keep the shrub narrower at the top.
That’s all folks! Happy Gardening 🙂