I have seen a lot of Japanese mockorange shrubs in my life. They pepper many a landscape in my native California and can be found in other subtropical locations. Japanese mockorange is a tough shrub that can handle many different conditions found in urban areas.
This plant is classified as Pittosporum tobira. It belongs to the Pittosporaceae family.
Some common names for this shrub include Japanese mockorange, Japanese cheesewood, Japanese pittosporum, tobira, and Japanese mock-orange.
Preferred USDA Hardiness Zones
This can be a part of your landscape if you live in Zones 8-10. As the common name suggests, this shrub is native to Japan. It also comes from China.
Size and Shape
Most Pittosporum tobira shrubs will reach a height between 6-15' tall and spread a similar distance, depending on the variety. It forms into a round shrub or small tree.
You can plant this shrub in almost any location as it can grow in full sun to full shade.
Foliage, Flowers, and Fruit
The green leaves are obovate and spoon-like in that the edges curve down. Each is 2-4" long. I see a variegated variety most often which has creamy margins.
At the end of many of the branches, you will find bunches of white flowers. Each one is less than an inch wide and fills the air with a perfume that may remind you of orange blossoms (Citrus sinensis.)
A capsule forms after the flowers are pollinated. They open to show off three seeds surrounded by sticky pulp.
Design Tips For Japanese Mockorange
This can grow well if placed in a seaside garden as it can tolerate salt.
If you like the look but need a dwarf size, look for 'Wheeler's Dwarf' and 'Cream de Mint'. Each will get 2-3' tall.
You can grow more of these shrubs by planting the seeds or taking cuttings.
Japanese mockorange can handle most soil pHs, salt, clay, and heat. The best growth will happen if your soil drains well.
Maintenance and Pruning
This shrub can really take off in its early years, so you might have to be diligent in your pruning to keep it in check. As it matures, growth does become more manageable. If you are pruning away branches, do it after the flowers appear lest you lose the floral display.
You can also prune it to have a central leader and become a small tree.
Pests and Diseases
You might find these pests hanging out on your shrubs:
- Aphids including apple aphid, melon aphid, and wooly apple aphid
- Chilli thrips
- Glassy-winged sharpshooter
- Spider mites
- Root knot nematodes
- Scales including cottony cushion scale, greedy scale, green shield scale and pit-making pittosporum scale
Possible diseases affecting Japanese mockorange are:
- Alternaria leaf spot
- Bacterial blight
- Cercospora leaf spot
- Pink limb blight
- Phytophthora root rot
- Pythium root rot
- Rhizoctonia aerial blight and root rot
- Southern blight