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Japanese Mockorange

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Photo of the Japanese mockorange Image by Ferruccio Zanone via Flickr

Overview of Japanese Mockorange:

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.

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 8-10. As the common name suggests, this shrub is native to Japan. It also comes from China.

Size & Shape of Japanese Mockorange:

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.

Exposure:

You can plant this shrub in almost any location as it can grow in full sun to full shade.

Foliage/Flowers/Fruit of Japanese Mockorange:

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.

Growing Tips For Japanese Mockorange:

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/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 & Diseases of Japanese Mockorange:

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 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
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