How to Prune Variegated Pittosporum

Updated March 23, 2017

There are several varieties of variegated pittosporum (Pittosporum tobira), an evergreen shrub with a mounded growth habit also called Japanese cheesewood. The shrub grows 8 to 12 feet high with a 12- to 18-foot spread. Most variegated varieties have light green foliage with cream-coloured edges. Without heavy pruning, pittosporums bear orange-blossom-scented flowers in the spring. This plant usually is pruned into a rounded shape, although tree forms are attractive as well. Prune the shrub when it finishes flowering.

Remove dead and broken branches by cutting them back to their source of origin.

Use loppers to create a rounded appearance. Begin at the bottom of the pittosporum and work your way up and around the plant. Stand back occasionally to check that the shrub isn't lopsided.

Maintain the tree-grown pittosporum by removing lower branches as they appear. Cut them back, flush with the trunk. Allow the upper branches to remain unpruned to avoid cutting off flower buds.


Never prune more than 1/3 of the entire plant during one session.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning shears
  • Loppers
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About the Author

Based in the American Southwest, Bridget Kelly has been writing about gardening and real estate since 2005. Her articles have appeared at,,, RE/,,, and in "Chicago Agent" magazine, to name a few. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English with a concentration in creative writing.