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Pittosporum tenuifolium Tom Thumb – Kohuhu or Tawhiwhi

The Pittosporum tenuifolium group of plants are generally large, spreading shrubs. ‘tenui’ being derived from Latin and meaning thin, so tenuifolium basically meaning thin leaves.
Origins include S Africa and areas of Australasia.

Pittosporum tenuifolium ‘Tom Thumb’ (AGM) is a slow growing mound-forming evergreen shrub with attractive deep purplish bronze leathery foliage. The new evergreen growth in spring starts with light green leaves which help to give the shrub an unusual two-toned effect. Thereafter the new leaves fall into line and turn the same glossy bronze which characterized the shrub.

Ultimate height and spread – no more than 1 metre (3ft) and that taking at least 5 years. Image taken on Jan 31st

Flowers if they are present, are small white with five-petals and the faintest of scent.

Bronze foliage of the Pittosporum tenuifolium Tom Thumb.Where to Plant and How to Grow Pittosporum Tom Thumb Shrubs

As with most of the Pittosporum when grown in UK, is should be planted in a sheltered non-exposed position – either in full sun or part shade. Dappled light is quite acceptable.

Exposed situations generally lead to unsightly evergreen leaf scorch in colder months, and soils prone to laying wet in winter are generally unsuitable. These growing conditions are generall met by planting in an east or west-facing aspect.

Soil conditions for planting are in the range of loam to sandy soils – well drained. Heavy clay soils best avoided or at least opened with addition of organic mulching. It matters not if the soil is neutral mildly acidic or alkaline.

Copious watering is rarely called for once the shrub is settled, so also suited for woodland garden in light dappled shade.

Shrub borders when planted near front are enhanced with the bright bronze evergreen foliage throughout the year. This Pittosporum is also ideal for planting in a large container.

Tom Thumb for Hedges

This Pittosporum will make an ideal non-intrusive hedge – either clipped regularly, or as an informal low screen/hedge.

Problems with Tom Thumb Pittosporum

Providing the planting situations are adhered to there are few if any problems with this dwarf or at least low-growing shrub.

Leaf spots sometimes develop, but are rarely more than a little unsightly. Powdery mildew may present itself, bought on by the general sheltered planting situation.

Pruning of Pittosporum tenuifolium Tom Thumb.

Pruning is rarely required unless you wish to clip it to shape. Otherwise a light trim or cut back of any winter damage should take place late spring.

Cuttings from Pittosporum Tom Thumb

This Pittosporum is best propagated with semi-ripe or well ripened cuttings in late summer. Not easy or fast to root so be patient.


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