Japanese Mockorange

Japanese mockorange tree with obovate leaves and small white flower bunches

The Spruce / K. Dave

Japanese mockorange shrubs can be found in subtropical locations. This plant is a tough shrub that can handle many different conditions found in urban areas.

Latin Name

This plant is classified as Pittosporum tobira. It belongs to the Pittosporaceae family.

Common Names

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 through 10. As the common name suggests, this shrub is native to Japan, but also found in China and Korea.

Size and Shape

Most Pittosporum tobira shrubs will reach a height between 6' to 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" to 4" long. We 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

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' to 3' tall.

Growing Tips

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.

Japanese mockorange tree branch with obovate spoon-like leaves and white flower bunch in middle

The Spruce / K. Dave

Japanese mockorange tree pruned in an orb-like shape in front of orange building

The Spruce / K. Dave

Japanese mockorange shrub with dense and waxy leaves with small white flowers in sunlight

The Spruce / K. Dave

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
  • Leafhoppers
  • Mealybugs
  • Spider mites
  • Root-knot nematodes
  • Scales including the 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
  • Dieback
  • Galls
  • Pink limb blight
  • Phytophthora root rot
  • Pythium root rot
  • Rhizoctonia aerial blight and root rot
  • Southern blight